For a few days before flying out to New York to visit my cousin, I stayed with her mum in London. While there I ticked off a few odd jobs around her house, took her out for a pub lunch or two and dealt with an unexpected breakdown of her freezer. I also went out alone to walk The Greenway, an embankment footpath that runs from Beckton (where my cousin's dad worked for the North Thames Gas Board in the 1960s & 70s), through East Ham (where her mum has lived alone since losing her husband in the late 1970s), Plaistow (where my dad was born), Stratford (where my mum was born) and on to Victoria Park in Hackney. It also passes directly alongside the church where my mum and dad were married in 1955. The disparate strings of my immediate family, all pulled together over the course of one 4½ walk.
To the untutored eye, The Greenway looks for all the world like a reclaimed railway track, though this is not the case. My mum, dad, aunt and uncle all traversed The Greenway regularly when they were growing up in the area, but they knew it (and my aunt still refers to it) as The Sewerbank, a slightly less salubrious, but accurate moniker for the manmade embankment that hides the Northern Outfall Sewer. It was re-christened in the 1990s.
Here's the frankly magnificent 1980 Tom Jones cover, from Rock n Roll's Greatest Failure.