Saturday 8th May, 2010
A relaxing, if uninspiring, day. First, a casting call booked for 1.30.pm at Blackhorse Road (yes, I had to look it up too). It’s sort of north-east London, vaguely near Walthamstow - it hardly lifted my spirits, but still…onwards and upwards.
So I got out of the tube at Blackhorse Road and set foot onto a deserted wasteland, like an industrial business park that had been evacuated years ago through some nuclear alert. In fact, the area was epitomised by my visit to this place:-
I was running thirty minutes early for the call so, deftly dodging the drifting tumbleweed, I decided to go for a coffee, and this place was about fifty feet from the station. I entered and there were just two people sitting by the window and behind the counter was a forlorn looking aging Turk - you felt like: if he smiled, his face would be rent asunder. And there was no menu. Anywhere.
So I said, all chipper, “A cup of coffee please”.
“No coffee”, he moaned, “coffee machine broke”. I looked at his food cabinets, every one of them empty and I struggled to find any kind of food - and there they were: four lonely looking deflated croissants. And that was it.
So I left. Once outside I could not resist taking that photo (above), then off I went to the casting.
Casting was the usual stuff: snap, snap, snap, chat, chat, chat, thank you, we’ll let you know. I left the building (on this glorified business park) and, looking for a place to relieve myself - as you do when you reach my age - I turned a corner and was confronted by this.
Is it me, or do I just attract the weird? This fantasy of fibre-glass seemed to epitomise the strange and surreal day that was developing around me. And besides, if the sole reason for this blog is a chance to post this picture up, fine.
On my way home I decided to drop into Walthamstow. It was a dump in the 1960s when I was growing up and has succeeded in expanding its capacity for being even more of a dump ever since.
Today, the only reason I might visit the place on the off-chance is to drop into the sari shops along Walthamstow market to browse the fabrics for possible future waistcoats. What a disappointment. Times must be hard, there was nothing of any interest or stimulation fabric-wise. What has gone wrong?
And the market itself?: nothing special, the same as any other scuzzy old London market in decline. Identikit. Kiddies clothes and foreign footwear. Cheap shit.
Elections, hung parliaments and political paralysis mean little to these people. Look at their faces. Nothing has changed.
At least I had a chance to drop into Manze’s for some (delicious) pie and mash and not bad at £3.95 for one pie, one mash and licker (hot parsley sauce/gravy).
This place is probably the last remnant in Walthamstow market - in Walthamstow itself maybe! - of the “true” East End from the era that I grew up in (1950s/60s)…and the opportunity to admire the interiors. Sadly the marble-top and iron tables were no more, replaced by plastic ones - probably a victim of Health & Safety or Hygiene or something, no doubt.
I don’t know if this place has a Preservation Order on it, but it should have.
I could tell you how I also felt like following my meal with a plate of jellied eels (but I passed on that) - at least I shall save your stomachs churning at the thought…. I mean, what is it about jellied eels that seems to turn people off???? They are yummy.
…And that was it really….an odd sort of day piqued by two tiny moments: the strange and the sublime.
But is good old fashioned pie and mash enough to make me want to stay in the UK? Hardly. I shall purchase the latest copy of Living Abroad magazine and ponder on’t.
(At least I’m glad my mobile phone has a camera in it - here’s an early attempt to frame the mannequins picture).