What's it like to live in the village that could soon be cut in half by Heathrow's third runway ? In the second of a series of special reports aimed at finding out what people really think about plans to expand the UK's busiest airport, Local Democracy Reporter Martin Elvery spends an evening in the company of the good people of Harmondsworth .
'Nothing here is quite what it seems'
Which way? Which way? The traffic systems round here are a complete nightmare.....
Off Junction 4 of the M4 at a rate of knots, then a weirdly shaped treacherous roundabout, drivers all over the road...then a sudden switch-back turning down Holloway Lane....why would anyone want to live here anyway?
Then I turn off left following signs that say 'village centre'.
Suddenly I'm almost in heaven. A quiet country scene that could be fifty years back greets me. Harmondsworth has a beautifully laid out village square with a cute little grocers store, two country pubs and a picturesque 12th Century church which would look great on any chocolate box. It's even surrounded by open space and boasts an incredible example of a huge 14th century barn.
But this village seems to good to be true, and like all good English villages - so calm on the surface - nothing here is quite what it seems.
Like any self-respecting journalist, I head straight to the Five Bells pub. Today (Wednesday June 5) Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced the Tory Cabinet has approved controversial plans to build the third runway which would slice the village in half. Literally destroying half its homes and leaving its quaint village square positioned just metres from the tarmac.
I'm expecting to find the pub packed with red-faced angry villagers seething at the day's events. Instead I find a pub landlord who has recently moved in and is bemused by the whole situation, and a couple of members of the Stop Heathrow Expansion group - a coalition of local councillors, MPs and residents which has been fighting the airport's various expansion schemes for years - quietly supping drinks.
They are not at all shocked by today's announcement which has been on the cards, but they staunchly believe that, even if Parliament votes to approve the plans, the courts will rule against them, just as they did in 2010, the last time around.
'Foolish to ignore the evidence'
Justine Bayley, who has lived in the village for 25 years, and sports a red SHE T-shirt, tells me: "Once the courts take a good look at the evidence and ignore the glossy propaganda videos, there are so many things that don't stack up."
"Any government would be incredibly foolish to ignore this evidence, " she says.
"It cannot happen unless the government says black is white."
I suggest that this campaign feels a lot more substantial than the previous third runway bid that caused the government to back down.
"But the same problems they found then are there now and will get rejected for the same reasons," she says.
I'm forgetting these are hardened campaigners. They fought against Terminal 4 and then 5 and when they were defeated, were promised by Heathrow it would be the end of expansion once and for all. Having suffered this betrayal, they successfully battled against a third runway, and now they are doing it all again.
"It's unjust that just because a company like Heathrow wants to expand, it thinks it has the right to ride roughshod over everything," Justine says.
'We're trying to educate MPs'
"We're trying to educate our MPs. It's a sad fact they will go into Parliament and they won't know where the flight paths are and they won't have read a lot of the information. We're trying to make sure they read more than just the briefing that Chris Grayling says he is going to distribute, " she laughs bitterly.
Christine Taylor, who has raised her two sons in the village and has campaigned against Heathrow for 16 years, adds: "The infrastructure round here is at saturation point and a lot of improvements they want to make will just keep up with existing congestion and not cater for expansion.
"Transport for London will have to invest billions in the infrastructure to support the airport. This equates to about £1,000 for every household in the country which will come out of general taxation and why would you want to keep all this infrastructure down here in the south east. Other parts of the country and other airports will lose out as a result.
'Foolish to lose homes'
They tell me the 780 homes Heathrow estimates it will have to compulsory purchase at market value, plus 25%, is the "barest minimum" needed to accommodate the runway and say in reality many more people will have to move but with less agreeable compensation deals. This, they say, will rip the heart out of the community.
"And where in the area can you find 783 houses like these? All of the new builds are flats. It's foolish to lose them during a housing crisis.
"At the moment we've got a village with two pubs, two shops, a church and a chapel, but if you take out the houses the community is gone," Justine says.
"It's very difficult for the elderly people as they don't want to move. Even if they stay here the support services for them in the village are disappearing and they might be forced to move to sheltered housing elsewhere where they don't have a community.
"They are promising thousands of jobs and apprenticeships, but are they going to be the kinds of jobs our children will aspire to? A lot of the jobs and apprenticeships we've seen so far are training to fold bed sheets in hotels or become a barista in a coffee shop. We don't want our children to stay here if these are the kinds of jobs they are going to get.
But despite their convictions, a wander around the sunlit village, knocking on doors speaking to people in the very houses which are to be destroyed, paints a very different picture.
'It's a foregone conclusion'
I don't find fear and loathing for Heathrow and residents riling against packing their bags.
Contrary to what the campaigners tell me, almost everyone I speak to thinks Heathrow will definitely happen and just "want them to get on with it".
There is some sympathy for the lost village, but above all there is self preservation and a wish for life to move on after all the years of debate.
The owner of the local convenience stores is just coming in as I'm loitering talking to people outside his shop.
"It's a foregone conclusion," he says matter-of-factly. Then gesturing around him, "they are already doing work testing ground in the fields around here and up there, why would they be spending money doing that if it wasn't already a done deal.
"It's unfortunate, the shop will go, but what can you do? I won't be able to get another shop around here, I will retire and do something else."
There is a tinge of sadness in his eyes but also a level-headed acceptance.
I bump into a scaffolder who looks as though he has sampled one or two ales in the village pub. "For work it's absolutely brilliant. There will be work around here for years," he says, shaking me by the hand and swaying slightly.
"I came here for work and I thought I was going back in time, I would love to stay here and settle down, but it's just the way things are going. There will be work here though for at least ten years which should take me to retirement."
'The quicker the better'
Derek and Joan Cobb, who have lived in the village for 25 years and raised their family here, tell me they both worked at the airport and their whole livelihood has been around Heathrow.
"The quicker it gets accepted the better. The debate has been going on so long and we just want them to make a decision and get on with it," Joan says.
"We welcome it. It will create thousands of jobs. Why would anybody not want it to go ahead, especially when we are going to leave the EU?"
The only problem they forsee is the deal won't be done quickly enough for them to be able to recoup the cost of their house and move on.
A retired taxi driver who picked up from the airport for years, complains: "It's the uncertainty. We just want them to make a decision. The community is changing here anyway , it's not the same as it was, more houses are being bought up just to let out now, so the community is changing. It's good that they are keeping the High Street, but we will be happy to take the money and go."
Jill and Terry Buttivant are equally frustrated by the delays. Terry can remember watching the planes dog fighting above the fields that became Heathrow during the Second World War, and going scrumping for apples in the trees around the edge of what was then a training base for Hawker Hurricane aircraft. But he is not sentimental about it now.
"We can't do anything to the house, there's no point in spending the money on it," he says.
"They just need to get on with it. It's the only practical thing to do. It's the best area for getting in and out of London and we're surrounded by roads and communications links so it's the best place for it. "
My last call, an airport worker, is even more unequivocal: "I am retiring soon so I just want it to go ahead and I want to move on with my life," he says. "It's unfortunate for the village but it needs to be done."
Crucially none of the residents I speak to say they have much in common with the SHE campaigners. "None of them actually live here," is the most common answer I get.
'A fair deal?'
But the other crucial and quite incredible thing is that people are still very uncertain about is how much they will actually get for their houses . They all tell me that they think getting the market value of their homes plus 25% is a "fair deal", but then quickly admit they have nothing in writing stating actual figures, and seem unclear about whether the "market value" is the value of homes before or after they were blighted by the threat of expansion.
Their uncertainty given their general acceptance they will have to sell up is staggering.
It makes me think that, rather than being seduced by huge sums the airport has offered and excited by the prospect of financial gain, people are just worn down by the years of talk. It has ruined their love of the village and their hope for a peaceful future here, and now they just want to get on with the inevitable, even if the sum they are offered isn't like winning the lottery.
Their grim acceptance is a stark contrast to the fierce denial of the SHE campaigners and in the end shows that for most people it's not about preserving an ideal or chasing a dream of a better life. It's just about survival, it's about carrying on in the best way you can in the circumstances you are in and about acceptance of things which you feel you can't control.
Whether people should feel like that living in a modern representative democracy is another - much more difficult - question.