Nah not rugby HQ, I’ve been thinking about the town itself. Most readers will know that we’ve found a place inTeddington which is our UK base now. And we’re very happy here. The beautiful river Thames and the famous lock is just down the road. Our little town has loads of nice bars and restaurants and more interior design shops than you can shake an Alessi-designed spatula at. We’ve got some great food stores within easy reach and loads of activities for daughter R to get involved with. Just down the road is lovely Bushy Park and across the river historic Richmond Park. And down the river is lively Kingston just 5-10 minutes away and nearby Hampton Court whilst upstream is attractive Strawberry Hill, where C works, St Margarets where daughter S and live and just across the river from them Richmond town itself which is about as prettily dramatic as any place in the Greater London area. It has everything really. And in the middle of all this terrific area nestled by the Thames is the blight that is Twickenham, a town with a famous stadium nearby and not a lot else.
There is, to be fair, a pleasant little bit down by the river but the High Street and immediate area around it is just dreadfully dismal. It’s populated by crappy looking pubs all with a rugger themed name like the Up ‘n’ Under and The GarryOwen and ‘Ead up ‘is Bum (I might have made that one up) plus the usual collection of dreary retail outlets including a huge empty facility which used to house Woolworths. It gets used for occasional clearance sale stuff now. It’s hardly a draw store for the areas many, many yummy mummies. Also on the plus side there is a surprisingly good Waitrose which looks terribly lonely set in a sea of sandwich and nail bars and computer repair shops, and one fantastic fishmongers and that’s about it in terms of decent places to shop.
But the whole tone of the place is set when you come out of the scruffy rail station. Across the way is quite the ugliest Post Office depot in the whole of the UK but the real showcase bit of architecture is the building which looms over the station and the main approach to the town, Regal House. If ever a building was mis-named it’s this one. 60’s architecture as its most brutal and ugly, coloured in a hideous sky blue, it’s about as regal and splendid as a nuclear power plant. Its office space has been on the market it seems at least for as long as I’ve been heading to Twickenham to watch the rugby. And that must be nearly 20 years now. Here’s a shot of the inglorious blot on the landscape of this lovely corner of SW London. Believe it or not this is a publicity shot of its best side. The back-side of the building sits like a brooding presence dominating the view from the station platforms. A bit like Martin Johnson’s brow and it’s not a pretty sight. If you know of a building more incongruous than this I’d be fascinated to hear of it .