Saturday, 18 October 2014


All the trains from London Bridge to Catford had been suspended this morning, so I was unceremoniously dumped at Lewisham Station and left to fend for myself in the hell of South-East London. Maybe the genteel world of Highgate has engulfed me, but Lewisham felt like a confusing, noisy shit-hole, full of desperately rude people. Perhaps that should read people whose cultural concept of rudeness is different to mine. I was buffeted about by people who refused to do anything but walk on their own trajectory, and stared at with venom by people I'm sure were looking for a fight to get their Saturday morning off to a great start. One black girl actually sucked her teeth at me! Cliche!! Only in Lewisham would you find a 12-year old boy wearing a weave in his hair. At least I think it was a boy. Sometimes I can't tell the difference between a boy and a lesbian.

I found my way to a bus which took my through the Lewisham Centre, which is essentially a shopping street next to a run-down sports centre which was so dilapidated we used it as a location for the post-apocalyptic 28 Weeks Later.

Catford wasn't a great deal more relaxing. Catford has a drive-thru' Macdonalds, a JD Sports megastore, a Mecca Bingo and a Lidl in the middle of a roundabout. Four locations for which I'd struggle to find a use!

Fortunately they've now removed the railings surrounding this mega-roundabout, which is rather grandly called the Catford Gyratory. It used to be that you'd have to go on a proper SAS assault course to avoid walking 100 meters out of your way.

I was in Catford for another instalment of Cake and Craft at Julie and Sam's. The rest knitted whilst I stuck photos into an album. I'm proud to say that I've always treated my photos with the dignity of a proper album. I now have over thirty books, dating back to 1991; my entire adult existence documented in pictures. Sometimes a friend will come over and we'll sit and go through an album from a particular year. It will always trigger a lovely nostalgic chat.

Tina told us all the story of a woman she sees every day on the DLR who wears a "baby on board" badge. For those who are out of this particular loop, the "baby on board" badge indicates that the wearer, though possibly not showing outward signs of being pregnant, is with child, and therefore likely to want to sit down on public transport. Perhaps it's cruel of me to suggest that some wear the badges to demonstrate their fecundity to childless women. Part of me thinks that the need to sit down only comes in the latter stages of pregnancy when the bulge is very obvious, but I'm happy to be told that morning sickness for some is so ghastly and exhausting that a seat is the only way forward. Anyway, the woman Tina sees has been wearing her badge for 18 months, and is still showing no sign of actually having a baby on board. She's therefore either an elephant, or she's pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. Shocking behaviour.

After Cake and Craft, which was more Elevenses and Craft, Sam and I went into Central London via Mountsfield Park, which represents a slightly more salubrious aspect of South East London. The only trouble was the weather: humid with yet more mizzle. It's so hot and stuffy, that walking up the merest hill became almost impossible. We're told a hurricane is on its way and I can well believe it. It was just this sort of weather which fuelled the 1989 hurricane; the most devastating to hit London in living memory. That particular hurricane was typified by huge oscillations in temperature which swung from the early teens into the mid twenties throughout the night.

I went into town to meet up with young Josh and his charming friend from university. We had drinks at the Soho theatre where Josh has just been accepted onto the new writers' scheme. On the way back to the tube, I took them on a quick tour of the highs and lows of Soho, and sent them into the night in search of a funky cabaret.  It struck me how little I know about what's hip and what's not these days. They'd had a tip-off about a "too cool for school" cabaret in a venue I'd not even heard of! I'm such an old fogey!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ben Catford was very different 50 years ago when Celia and I were there with her family freinds, even to two west country yokles lol we thought it very likeable xx