I had been threatening to move but it seems that I just can’t tear myself away from Shepherd’s Bush. And who can blame me? Of all the Bushes that people live in it is surely the second best one, after the Australian Bush. Though where’s their Sainsbury’s Local and Esquires coffee shop? Nowhere that’s where!
It’s the eccentrics that I love, like the man who stands in the middle of the Uxbridge Road on a Saturday afternoon, playing music, festooned in flags, dancing and waving to the passing (usually gridlocked) motorists. But he’s by no means the only one.
Last week, on my wife’s birthday, we were going out for breakfast and passed a cartoonish man with thick spectacles and brightly coloured clothes, driving the wrong way up the road on his mobility scooter, which decorated with bunting and cuddly toys. He gave us a cheery greeting and we all laughed together. So I was a bit terrified when I turned to carry on to see the exact same man driving towards me again. How was this possible? My initial thought was that there was a glitch in the Matrix and I did a literal double-take to check and saw that the first man was still there.
Of course he was and the (some would say) more likely explanation that the pair were twins proved to be the case. But twins in late middle-age on mobility scooters and dressed in identical clothes like they’d come out of an even more twisted Alice in Wonderland. The second man was just as cheery as the first.
It was as if I had hired a mobility-scooter-o-gram to celebrate my wife’s birth. And of course I pretended I had. Because no one could believe such a thing could happen by happenstance.
And the magnet that keeps the Great British eccentrics safely within the orbit of Shepherd’s Bush Green is the Post Office. I have written a couple of columns about the batspit crazy buffoons and murderous crackpots that I have encountered in there. I used to regularly tweet about the tortuous long waiting times and strange things I had witnessed in the queue and the diligence and patience of the staff. I don’t know how they cope in their stressful job without punching everyone in the face. But they don’t punch anyone in the face and remain polite and friendly in the face of madness and hostility.
Even more impressively, in the last couple of years, the new manager has made the place run so efficiently that I barely have the chance to tweet. Once it took over 30 minutes to get to the front of the line, but now you’re seen usually within seconds.
So of course, having turned this place into a success, the Post Office want to shut it down and move the operation to a much less central and less accessible WH Smiths. Smiths are probably thinking of the extra money, but they do not realise that their store will now act like a lighthouse, drawing in the idiosyncratic Bush moths, who won’t spend any money in the store and will NEVER LEAVE!
So I send this message out to Ian Post Office (the head of the organisation that bears his name): Please don’t penalise the good people of the world’s second greatest bush or the amazing staff who have turned a dogspit store into a flagship store. Leave our post office where it is.
Because if the force that keeps the Bush people here is taken from us, the rest of you will have to deal with them.
Never meet your heroes? Balderdash. On Monday I interviewed Dawn French for my Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (online Christmas week). She is just as lovely, funny and naughty in real life as you’d imagine. And she actually likes and respects her double act partner. What kind of a monster is she? Next Monday I am interviewing Tony Robinson from Maid Marian and Her Merry Men (I think he might have been in Blackadder too). Come along!