diamond geezer

 Saturday, February 19, 2005

The real EastEnders
Albert Square

Estate agent: As you can see madam, this is a very desirable terraced property close to all local amenities.
Sonia: Oooh very nice. It's perfect for me and my Martin.
Estate agent: There are two bedrooms, a small garden and a knocked-through lounge.
Sonia: Great, we can spend all our weekends down at B&Q and IKEA.
Estate agent: And there's a fitted kitchen complete with washing machine.
Sonia: Excellent, I won't need to use that bloody launderette ever again.
Estate agent: And the whole house is fully double glazed.
Sonia: Brilliant, that means the neighbours won't hear me practising the trumpet.
Estate agent: And it's perfect for the first time buyer, just so long as they're a big City hotshot earning at least 60K.
Sonia: I'm training to be a nurse, and my Martin sells vegetables.
Estate agent: Sorry dear, East London is way outside your price range.
Sonia: Bugger. Looks like we'll have to commute from Weatherfield.

There really is an Albert Square in East London, and it's in Stratford. Sorry, you're probably pig sick of hearing about Stratford this week, but rest assured that this particular street is located on the non-Olympic side of town. Albert Square E15 isn't so much a square as two sides of a rectangle. It's a dead ordinary street landlocked into the residential jigsaw to the east of Maryland station. The Victorian terraces are owned and rented by a cross section of London's multicultural population. Their not-quite-identical houses have tiny front gardens full of wheelie bins, bushes and pieces of old carpet. Some of the front windows have well-scrubbed leaded lights, while others are covered by faded sheets of old newspaper. A big red skip halfway up the road is filling up with broken masonry as the street slowly evolves. And, down on the corner where the Albert House once served beer, a new 'exclusive selection of luxury 1 & 2 bedroom apartments' is being erected. This new development is playing heavily on the Albert Square name, pretending to potential buyers that the pub here has always been called the Queen Victoria. Somehow I doubt that Alfie, Frank or Peggy would ever want to live in something quite so characterless.

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