Tag Archives: pubs

Gentrification and crap beer.

Briefly to Islington to see my brother for a Christmas drink. Its easy to get to now that the East London Line goes to Highbury and the Northern Heights are almost connected to civilisation 🙂

Revisited some old haunts to see what;s changed. Mor his old haunts than mine I was in Durham, Kenya, and Brighton for most of the time he hung around there in the late 70s and early 80s, but I still have some memories of it. Like taking snuff and wering a proper hat at some gig in the basement of the Hope and Anchor. Which is where we went first. Not a good idea even for nostaligia. A pint of rubbishy beer badly kept in a pub which isn’t even a parody of its former self, despite the handful of out-of-place old band posters. Its more like a standard off-the-shelf 1990s London Pub interior, with fake flock wallpaper, fake chandeliers, second-hand cheap oak tables, coffee machine, and large clear windows so you can see in and decide not to enter and join the small numbers of customers. It looked like someone bought it by mail order. A soulless place. Too clean. At least last night. Maybe its more fun when there is music downstairs, but there was none last night.

Walked down Upper Street which these days seems to be made up almost entirely of different sorts of Asian fusion restaurants. You want Japanese style roast beef, Mexican/Turkish wraps, Australian vegan pies, gluten-free Thai? I’m sure its here somewhere.

So we took refuge in the Camden Head, which (like the eponymous Camden Passage) has confused generations of last piss-artists by not being in Camden. It still looks like it used to (which is pretty amazing) and it wasn’t too cold to sit outside smoking, nor too crowded to get a seat inside. Most of the customers seemed to be 30-something women with posh accents out on the piss, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Beer the now-ubiquitous Doombar, which was a great improvement. So we stayed for three or four.

And then as if to prove that North London always was connected to civilisation I managed to get back to Lewisham in half an hour by tube and train. OK, it was a bit jammy and I had to leap through closing doors twice, but it worked. Left the pub at 10:26, got off a train at Lewisham at 10:50. Would hardly have thought it possible.

No photos as it was dark and I didn’t take my camera…

Late free lunch in Deptford

A meeting of the school governors of Lewisham Bridge school at 4.45 (its usually at six). And Lewisham Bridge is in a mess (Google it). The mess got worse. The kids are being bussed to the Mornington school near New Cross station, because our school is to be demolished and rebuilt as a 3-16 all-through school on the old site. Except it isn’t, because the Council didn’t apply for planning permission before the kids were “decanted” (as they say). And then English Heritage listed the building. And protestors occupied the school. And now the council is planning to move the school back for one year and move it out again and move back again a year after that (or maybe two). And its all a mess.

Because we started so early there was a two-hour gap between thay meetin and the next one I needed to go to and I used it to walk round Deptford High Street and in and out of the railway arches. Photos when I get the chance to upload some.

And yes, Deptford in the evening can be wonderful. I bought some little coloured glass jars
for a pound each. And saw lots of people of all sorts walking up and down, including a black bloke on a bicycle who stopped a friend on another bicycle outside a cheap Asian knick-knack shop (I ought to go back and buy a big cooking pan) and asked him out for a drink and said “I sold a Volvo today – three thousand quid”. Where else do people who sell cars ride bicycles? And I met J and H and N on Edward Street on their way from a quiet afternoon drink at the Dog and Bell (the Deptford pub that really isn’t like most people’s idea of Deptford – real ale, Belgian beer, all the day’s newspapers, and art exhibitions) and off to Brockley to buy some weed and go home and watch Dr Who videos.

And (not for the first time) I wondered why I always stay at work or in town so late. It might be good to spend more time in Deptford in daylight.

Then a Labour party meeting at 8pm (it would usually be 7.30 or 7.45) round the corner. And Steve Bullock (sorry, Sir Steve Bullock) the Mayor talking about Trust Schools and the proposals of “hard” federations and “soft” federations, and the proposed relationship between Goldsmith’s College and Deptford Green School and Addey’s School and Crossways (whatever that is) – which to be honest sounds like a good idea to me though the meeting was mostly against it – and another one between Colfe’s School and Catford High School and listened to the rest of us trying to tell him that all that means nothing to most people (the best contribution was from Laura Seabright who I think actually is a teacher at Deptford Green) and certainly isn’t going to win us the next election, either locally or nationally.

Actually in other ways it was a good meeting and we heard some really good stuff from Joan Ruddock, our MP, about a possible new railway station on Surrey Canal Road, and the upcoming Copenhagen talks on the environment, and some stuff they did in Greenland – but like the man said, all politics is local, and our schools are as local as you can get and we are fucking them up. Well, Lewisham Bridge, anyway.

So after two meetings and lots of walking and photos (& the last walk a very nice stroll to the bus-stop talking to a rather pleasant and intelligent House of Commons assistant I don’t think I’ve met before) I was feeling hungry and thirsty and possibly in need of a cigarette so into a pub at about 10.30pm and yes there is a darts match on and its the trophy competition at the end of the season and so I get a few pints of good beer and free burgers and salad off the barbecue and talk to G and K who aren’t even twenty yet and are running a door-to-door sales business in Gravesend and have bumped into their first cash-flow crisis and are having trouble paying their staff. And M who is more or less homeless and has been put into sheltered accomadation by the council and dislikes it hugely because she isn’t old enough for that yet and would rather live almost anywhere else but can’t so comes to the pub all evening instead of sitting around watching Big Brother on the TV and talking to the old folk waiting to die. And R & M talking about how nothern chips with gravy are better than our poncey southern chips. And T whose wife died from a heart attack a few years ago and is thinking about suing the doctors who had failed to diagnose a heart problem only a few days before. And TD talking about about – no, but this is a family-friendly blog

But if there is something better than free barbecue in a pub garden after two stressful meetings in one evening I don’t know what it is.

And it was all too much and I went home – and THEN they showed the fourth part of the current Torchwood story on TV. Which you really need to see. And is sort-of kind-of almost relevant.

And THEN they showed a repeat of the BBC TV coverage of the Apollo missions from forty years ago which I saw live at the time and you really need to see that as well… James Burke (remember him?) … Cliff Michelmore chewing his fingers for Apollo 13.

And tomorrow: to Bromsgrove – and beyond!

Sometimes pubs just work

One of the good things about this walking round London lark is going to a pub to cool off afterwards. Not that I wouldn’t go anyway, but its a good excuse. And part of the point of going to the pub at all is to talk to people. If you only wanted to drink & watch TV its a lot cheaper to get cans from the supermarket. So one measure of a good session in the pub is the conversations you have with people you didn’t expect to meet, or about subjects you didn’t expect to talk about.

I went into the local last Thursday to cool off after walking round Deptford and Peckham (hot day, dusty feet, crowded bus home) A few pints of cold cider felt like a good idea. (The delay in making this post shows how busy my life must be… not. ) And again on Sunday after yet another hotter and dustier afternoon walk after church (pictures later honestly), for more cider and chat. Except that this time there were jellied eels. And roast potatoes and bits of cheese and little Yorkshire Pudding things with small slices of what I suppose is beef in them in a rather nice but sloppy gravy that people other than me spilled on their shirts. And prawns and cockles and mussels and whelks. That’s getting to be traditional London pub Sunday, of the sort that probably never really happened. It almost makes you want to sing My Old Man said follow the van.

Sometimes pubs just work.

And who did I talk to and what did we talk about?

With a rather pissed electrician just off shift about the “invisible army of workers” [his words] who maintain the buildings, railways, roads, sewers and so on in London. Can you have a 45-minute conversation with a stranger about Victorian sewers? Yes, it seems you can.

With J the Barmaid about repairing houses and about the Brockley Tenants Co-operative which (we agreed) seems to be a lot better landlord than the so-called Housing Associations which are really much the same as the Council houses used to be except that they aren’t accountable to elected councillors so you have even less chance to get a hearing from them. As illustrated by a court case she won against Bromley Council some years ago when they basically sued her for money she owed but that they had denied her a realistic chance to pay back by not answering letters or phone calls and having their office closed when she went round. She got compensation that exceeded the amount of debt. [And as an aside I know some people who seem to have sold their house to the BTC and are living in it as tenants. If social housing really worked that would happen more often. It ought to be good enough to choose]

With Dave the Bus-Driver about bus timetables. Well someone has to. And about what happens when they find you drunk and passed-out upstairs on the last bus.

With a bloke whose name I’ve forgotten but he’s on one of the darts teams about taxi drivers and their earnings. He’s not a cabby, but he has strong opinions on those who are.

Not a real conversation but the presumably Chinese woman who walks round selling presumably pirated DVDs tried to sell me one.

With a couple of taxi-drivers watching the 20-20 cricket, talking about 20-20 cricket and about bowling and about why they thought Sri Lanka were cheating Pakistan got a cheer from our pub when they won. Maybe two. I’m not a cricket fan but I can get into the rules and the complexity of it. The very existence of a complex system seems to induce a desire to understand it in my brain. I want to know what the rules are and what effect changing them might have. Like that odd notion from school about electrical charges and magnetic fields causing opposite fields in any metal brought into them.

With J. the Tabloid Journalist about next week’s headlines. He got them right

With N who is apparently going to go to sing at a friend’s wedding in a church in the South of France next week, He showed us the leaflet with words in French and Italian. And then with him & B the Church Organist about music. [I think I must be one of those Philistines who doesn’t like music really but loves the sound it makes]

And later with B and John the Buddhist about more music and other such hippy stuff. Which led to the stand-out remember-it-for-years line of the evening, in that when he heard that B had played on the same stage as Herbie Hancock [how cool is that?] J said: “I know Herbie. We’re old mates”. Which I suspect is true.

With D the Teenage Barmaid about Glastonbury where she is off to do more barmaiding as the price of entry and about festivals in general. “When I were a lad…” Except that when I was her age I didn’t go to festivals and I do now. With tents and all. And apparently the headliners at Glastonbury this year are Blur, Bruce Springsteen & Neil Young. I though pop music was meant to make people my age feel old?

With John the Geordie about, well, it was now getting hard to remember seeing as the two pints of cider had turned into however many pints of cider you drink between 5pm and 10pm and I don’t quite remember that part.