Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just What Is A Gladrag, Anyway?

Wait... could it be?
What’s that? You want to hear about my trip into Slough? Oh, well, take a seat! Just as fans of Mary Tyler Moore have Minneapolis, WKRP fans have Cincinnati and Lost affectionados have… letters falling through space, I have Slough.

Slough, of course, is the setting for the BBC version of the Office. I obviously knew nothing of it before watching the show, but evidently it has a reputation for being a boring, soulless parking lot of a city. Picture Mississauga without Hazel McCallion, only drearier.

Now, none of the show was actually filmed there; other than the Slough-centric opening credits, I understand everything was done on soundstages elsewhere. But, jeez… what an opening credits! If you wanted the essence of Slough distilled into a 30-second video, you need only look here.

This would be a lot more effective if YouTube hadn't deleted the video of the intro, trust me.
Before I go any further, I need to state that The Office is probably the best sitcom ever produced (Peep Show running a close second). I think every word, every frame, every glance given by David Brent to the camera is pure genius. Because of it, I have now divided my friends into those who watch it and “get” it, and those who don’t. Finding myself in London, not a 20-minute train ride from Slough… how could I not visit the sights seen in the iconic opening montage? So I did.

Not a kilometre from the train station is most of the action. Within a hundred-yard radius, one can find the bus station, roundabout, and car park. I spent a solid half hour wandering about here, taking in the Sloughness of it all. Do try and match my photos up to the intro above. Rather unfortunately, I think a shot or two was taken from the roofs of adjacent office buildings, access to which I… did not have.

Is that the roundabout?! Yes, it is!
The next stop was the Slough Trading Estates, home to the actual office of The Office fame. I don’t exactly know what a Trading Estate is, but Wikipedia says that Slough’s is the largest in England. At any rate, like Tim, Keith, Garreth and Finchy, I hopped on the bus, went around the roundabout and made the crosstown journey to the office. Eagle-eyed, I spotted it from the bus and made a little hike towards it.

Whatever a Trading Estate is, it seems to be some sort of commercial zone full of office buildings. Companies whose names I forget have their national headquarters around here. It’s a little like that area down by the lake in Oshawa, only less… industrial. Two office workers, presumably out on a lunch break, were more than happy to point me in the direction of the building from The Office. I wonder if they get that a lot.

The teal building sticks out like a sore thumb. Very difficult to miss. Walking up to it, a ridiculous sense of pride and accomplishment washed across me. Here I was, a smalltown boy not a month out of smallertown Saskatchewan, arriving at some useless tourist destination nobody in the world would care to visit.

There she is

Having had my fill of looking at and photographing an office building, I decided to find a pub at which to have a pint – as they say. Now, Chaser’s doesn’t exactly exist, but I figured there had to be something within walking distance. I figured wrong. So, after a fruitless walk around the neighbourhood, I hopped on the bus and headed back to the train station.

And that, my friends, was my afternoon in Slough.


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