ODE TO WEMBLEY:
If you're an Iraqi and you live anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere then you will know of the 'little kathmiya' residential area more commonly referred to as Wembley. This small enclave in northwestern london is no longer famed for its towering football stadium but for the highest concentration of Iraqi's per sqaure metre anywhere in Western Europe.
Approaching it from Alperton with the smell of curries and spices still lingering, the multitude of bollywood film posters start to fade and the bright colours merge into an ever stretching length of grey concrete that is Wembley High Street. It is here that we get the gritty amalgamation of ethnicities and the anarchy that results from mixing Asian, Afro-carribean, somalian and Arab at the centre of which lies the building to which all gravitate to......the local Primark.
As you try not to get crushed by the throng of eager, desperate shoppers shout out the odd 'Wallahi 3abdi', 'Wilek Abu Jasim, wen ri7it', 'Shaniqua get yo'self down here before i slap you one', and 'Oi Priya, this top is well buff innit?' you join in the tangle for the cheapest piece of polyesster Chinese sweat shop produced material you can find marvelling at how you got the latest fashions for only £1.50 per outfit.
Leaving Primark, you are faced with the hell hole that is Wembley Central station. This dark, menacing, urine-smelling excuse of a train station. Unless you want to be mugged by the gangsters loitering outside the afro-carribean hairdressers or be vomitted on by the drunks in the corner, avoid it at all costs. There are other ways to get to central london besides the urinal that is the bakerloo line with its lack of arm rests in between the seats and the scaringly close seating arrangements of the 2 facing 2 booths which absolutely force you to make eye contact with whoever is sitting opposite. Now that you DON'T want to do.
Leaving the centre of Wembley you now make your way to the more respectable and leafy Wembley Park, a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel however is the number 83, the absolute slowest most painstaking bus in london. If you manage to get through this snail pace journey, without falling foul of the teenaged yobs carrying out a turf war between their schools on the upper deck or the group of pensioners who happen to be the only white people left in Wembley blaming you for the desecration of their once respectable suburb, then count yourself lucky.
Make sure you get off spack bang between the two giant supermarkets where you must make a difficult choice. Lidl or Asda? Either way be prepared, take out your breathmints, smooth down your hair or adjust your scarf for you will meet at least 10 iraqi families (that you know personally) buying basmati rice or boxes of satsumas like a nuclear holocaust is about to hit. Even if you try sneaking into Asda at 3 in the morning with your na3al still on, be warned: you WILL be seen. And unless your gaze is resolutely glued to the floor you WILL get a reputation.
Once you get through all the salmini 3ala flans and you've dodged the last two Um and Abu Ali's in the car park, its time for a little sustenance. Behold your wide variety of treats to tantalise your taste buds, you have a total of 4, yes i repeat FOUR different fried chicken shops....plus the pizza take away (all bismilla halal and thoroughly investigated by diligent youths)
Your trip is now coming to an end....you're passed by a couple of Um flans discreetly power walking with their abayas and trainers. Your options are admittedly limited, continue the Iraqi tour with Kingsbury, or go a little further down to Willesden. As for me? You would think I'd jump on the jubilee line and get myself as far from northwest london as i can (ie ealing) yet I find myself continuing to visit this hub of Iraqi activity and i consistently find myself here. Is it the joy of cruising down the north cirular? My love for Asda? The suprusingly reassuring fuzzy feeling i get from the sight of my fellow iraqis?
No its none of those. Its the multipack of Appelsaft from Lidl for only 47p.