Mar. 9th, 2008

Old London

Mar. 9th, 2008 01:12 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
I emptied out the cellar on Friday and so, today, I had quite a bit of stuff to drive to the Recycling Centre (including the defunct vacuum cleaner, a sack of -- solid -- cement, and many many half-empty cans of paint; although if Geoff had them, I guess they would be termed half-full).

And, as if in one of those irritating shift and move puzzle games, I got to within 250 yards of the centre, only to be told that Surrey Canal Road was shut (many thanks Thames Water), thus necessitating another 10-minute drive so that I could get to the centre from the other side (the west side, I mean, not post-death. That would be a silly thing to do and probably impossible. Ghosts do not recycle.)

After dumping all my stuff (one of the guys working there gleefully carried off the vacuum cleanner as if it had a resale value on a par with my car - viz, a tenner) I decided that it would be quicker to drive back via the Old Kent Road. This took me along Ilderton Road, and some stark memories came flooding back.

I passed a pub called The Barnaby, where I last drank nigh-on 30 years ago. The parents of one of my undergraduate friends at UKC ran this pub back in 1978, and one Friday night I drove Les (a man who once legendarily lost his emergency Master's Loan after only 20 minutes when his straight ran into a flush at 7-stud) home from college. He invited me in for a bite to eat, whioch inevitably turned into a six-hour drinkfest.

Now, Ilderton Road is between the Old Kent Road and Surrey Docks (now renamed Surrey Quays, but what do they know?). This is about as Old London as you can get, and was even more so back in 1978. The pub was heaving that Friday night, and you didn't see many black faces. Well, you didn't see any black faces, or Arab faces, or, indeed, any faces other than the eponymous "faces" of the manor (yes, they spoke like that round there). Millwall supporters to a man (not many women to be seen, either), this was the heart of National Front territory in those days, although I'm sure that many of the people there voted Labour, if they bothered to vote at all. Bob Mellish was still MP for Southwark and Bermondsey in those days.

There was a TV series recently about the development of a block of flats in nearby Deptford, with the influx of whatever today's equivalent of the Yuppie is. But the last 30 years around Albany Road have seen the first wave of cultural integration, if not economic integration.

And yet, I wonder what I would see if I stopped off at The Barnaby on a Friday night. I just get the feeling that it's still Millwall land and would still be, predominantly, white English only.


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