Whether it’s hand-in-hand couples walking their spry dogs, families eating at street-side cafes or blokes drinking tea while compiling their latest blog post, Chiswick high street is a strip teeming with activity.
It feels like a city within a city, a self-sustaining, autonomous part of London. I used to have friends that never crossed over into neighbouring suburbs, almost as if it would be perceived as defecting to a foreign land. While that assertion is on the extreme side, I do see the allure of staying put and enjoying the friendly, spirited community vibe that Chiswick encapsulates.
It does, however, feel like a territory on its own, an exclusive club whose members are, for the most part, of a higher socioeconomic grouping. To put it quite simply, it’s posh, trendy safe, pleasant and exceedingly expensive.
Reflecting back, I now see why some of my mates never crossed the great divide and entered into nearby communities like the Acton’s. One neighbour, akin to North Korea and South Korea, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the US and Mexico, and maybe soon, Great Britain and Scotland, lives a charmed life while the other toils, barely able to keep its head above water.
Unlikely to ever change, the disparity is palpable and omnipresent. But anyone who says life is fair obviously hasn’t spent enough time with his or her downtrodden neighbour.
Invariably a part of human nature and, unfortunately, not being able to change it on my own, I’m going to enjoy this overpriced pastry and tea amidst the congenial atmosphere for which Chiswick high street is renowned.
I’m sure, begrudgingly so, this moral dilemma will be short-lived.
Overcast, dreary and drab in London this morning, I thought it best – to avoid the debilitating symptoms of cabin fever – to amble down the street to my local coffee shop for a stimulating brew.
And while it sounds like an ordinary run-of-the-mill activity, I cross into a bustling dimension where kids dance merrily in the doorway, music pulsates pleasantly overhead, friends congregate and discuss the week that was, individuals hone in on their laptops or get lost in their latest read while the baristas take pride in consistently producing liquid, arabica inspired, forms of art.
A model Qantas jet sits imperiously on a stand at the entrance, reflecting the establishment’s Australian roots. Wishing I could shrink to the size of an ant and hop aboard to a destination far flung, I come back down to Earth and settle for a chart topping flat white.
I’m not coffee connoisseur by any means, but it’s nice to have found Artisan – through a mate’s recommendation (cheers Tonks) – a coffee shop whose lively ambience is trumped only by its barista’s coffee-making skills.
It’s a far cry better than festering indoors hoping the sun makes its long-awaited cameo, which is a trap I too often fall into.
For who knows when the temperamental star (by classification and not performance) will extend its warm touch.
But when it does, thanks to the stimulating nature of a triple flat white, I’ll be outside in a flash, like a cheetah ramped up on speed, to welcome the sun’s far-reaching, albeit sporadic, embrace.