Welcome to the McCreadie hotel in Forest Gate, London. Otherwise known as the Hammered House of Horrors.
It is set in no obvious acres of parkland in an area of London you really don’t wish to go to which has oddly been christened Forest Gate. The Forest is long gone and if there is a gate it needs to be locked. Permanently. To say Forest Gate is a shithole is to do a massive disservice to shitholes the world over. So apologies to Middlesbroughs and downtown Cincinnati. This place is the real deal and, to be fair, the only logical, spiritual home for the McCreadie Hotel.
It wasn’t always thus. Once upon a time Forest Gate was a standard bearer for multicultural London. It was the kind of place I loved to hang out in. A bit f*cked up but with every kind of community there. All rubbing along. What London is all about, or so I thought…
Then came Brexit, inflicted on us by people from Cornwall, Wales and Sunderland. And even though it resolutely voted against it, things changed overnight in the capital. There were hidden forces just waiting to be unleashed…
When I was holed up in Forest Gate, at the McGreedy, on my first night mice ate through my phone charger. Seriously. I used to hear them running around the bed and squeaking and although I was knackered, I seriously doubted if I was better off there or outdoors. The sounds of couples fighting violently as they came down from whatever drug they were on, echoed around the halls. I think on my second day. I’d had enough. Half dead but just about able to stand I got to my feet and staggered to the room two doors away where this couple were screaming merry hell at each other. I knocked quietly at the door and then whispered in his face. ‘Shut the f*ck up and shut your girlfriend up too. I am tired of hearing your disturbing noises. If you don’t shut up I swear I’ll do it for you. Go and yell at each other in the street.’ He saw that I was near demented with tiredness and wisely, they went out to yell at each other in the street, as suggested.
When I picked myself up, I found a local takeaway owned by a lovely Persian man. He told me how Brexit had changed everything. Just a week earlier two feral Polish guys dragged a young muslim lad out from the takeaway into the street to give him a beating for no other reason than his religion. He jumped in and stopped it. Weeks earlier, a group of Muslim lads decided to knock seven bells out of a white lad, same bullshit reason. ‘Where did all this hatred come from?’I asked him. ‘I don’t recognise my city anymore.’ He shook his head sadly. ‘It was always there. These people were just looking for an excuse and Brexit gave it to them.’
Anyway, weeks after I got made homeless for the third time there was someone kind enough to put me in the McCreadie hotel for a week. I didn’t realise how tired I was. Your body does a weird thing when your life is in danger. It keeps pumping out adrenalin. So there I was. In an actual room. With a roof and a door. And a lock. And when I got there I dissolved. Honestly once that door was locked I dissolved. When I finally woke up. I think it was two days later. Didn’t know where the f*ck I was. Managed to find the local Wetherspoons though. I can always do that. I liked it there. Even though its rough in Forest Gate those people took to me. There is a community of feral cats living at the pub and I saw myself.
I had the room for a few more nights. But I had no money. So I would walk or hike to Newbury Park station, to make a few bob. But I became Ill. A year on and off the streets, I’d never been Ill. I still never get Ill.
But this time I was. I would be out all day, right as rain, but as soon as I got back to my room in the McCready, I started to wretch into the bin. I lost my voice completely which made it hard for me to shout at wankers but more importantly to sing. Singing saved my life.
I saw my mate Carl in Ilford and whispered to him that I was in the McCready and I had no voice. He rolled his eyes. ‘Its because you’re inhaling the crack smoke’ he said. He was right. People on crack and smack get housed, before people who don’t. I used to see them rocking from side to side and I resented them. Forgive me but I did.
Anyway I managed to get out of that hellhole and into somewhere else. A lot of my friends are now smoking Spice. You don’t even want to know what that does to a human brain or heart. I’m okay. By the skin of my teeth. There but for the grace of God.