I lived there you see

So my eldest is flat hunting in the East End. Out of the blue he says

Dad, what do you know about Bromley by Bow?’

What? Other than the fact that the area is said to gets its name from the shape of the bridge built over the river Lea by Maude, wife of King Henry 1?

Or that it is built on the site of a medieval convent, dedicated to St Leonard?

Or that following the Dissolution, the priory chapel became the parish church, but Second World War damage and construction of the Blackwall Tunnel northern approach destroyed much of what was left?

Or that the notorious Kray twins had a club on Bow road?

Or that Mahatma Gandhi stayed in the community centre, Kingsley Hall when he visited the UK in 1931.

Or that the Bow Quarter was original site of the Bryant and May match factory and scene of the 1888 strike, when the workers, mainly women went on strike for better conditions.

Or that I celebrated my 25th birthday with a party in the Priory Tavern.

Or that the Spratts Patent Ltd manufactured dog biscuits from the 1860s (It says here) and erected the first billboard in London? It doesn’t say where though

… Isle of Dogs maybe … Barking …?

The view from our terrace. 1985 Bromley By Bow

View from my eldest’s terrace Bromley By Bow 2017

 

Look On The Bright Side, It’s Norman Whiteside!

It’s a Saturday morning and my mate Dinks is chuffed to bits, for despite his hangover he was up and out, early doors and into Stratford, found a DIY store and having measured up, bought the glass and putty needed to repair the toilet window at 35, Corbin House, Bow Bridge Estate London E3, his current place of residence.

For reasons which escape me, but which almost certainly involve large quantities of alcohol and possibly a hammer, the toilet window had been smashed. And, because like our flat at number 60, the bathroom is adjacent to the front door, it means a broken pane or panes of the frosted glass allow callers to the flat uninterrupted views of … Well, you see what I mean.

In order to protect the modesty of unsuspecting visitors (more so than the occupants, it has to be said, who couldn’t really have cared less) a photograph of Manchester United and Northern Ireland international Norman Whiteside of the appropiate size is placed strategically behind the broken glass. And it had been this way for months.

Norman Whiteside’s at the window

Until Dinks finally took it upon himself to repair it.

“Job’s a good ‘un” smiled a gratified Dinks, probably one of the world’s most unpractical people, as he stands back to admire his handiwork, rubbing the putty from his hands. “Fancy a pint?”

“But Dinks …” – I don’t know how to break it to him. – “The glass …”

“What about it?”

“Well it’s clear. It should be frosted … Did you ask for frosted glass, Dinks? … Dinks?”

“Fuck. Fucking Hell … Well, bollocks, I’m not doing it again.”

And so Norman Whiteside was returned to his rightful position.

And for all I know, he’s still there.

© Andy Daly 2016

 

The Baron Biddulph of Barking Bares All

Warning. Contains nudity. May not be suitable for minors or those of a nervous disposition

My mate the Baron was, and I hope still is a smashing bloke. He lived with me and the rest of the gang in the old LCC tenement blocks hard-to-let flats, alongside the Bow Bridge flyover. He worked in the Crown Suppliers dodge uptown and like all of us, he enjoyed a drink or seven. He was quite partial to having a few scoops of the old falling down water on a Friday night. If not saturday, sunday, monday, tuesday, wednesday and thursday come to that. In fact, all the years I know the Baron, he never refuses a drink.

Well what happens one friday night is typical of the kind of thing the Baron gets up to when he has been squeezing the hops since early doors. He is drinking since lunchtime with his work pals and has unfortunately forgotten to eat anything, so as you can imagine all that grog on an empty stomach naturally leaves him feeling a little tired and emotional.

Now being the sensible sort, the Baron figures the best thing to do is to go home and sleep it off; it being only five o’ clock in the afternoon. So this he does.

It seems he has a pretty good snooze, because before he knows it he is awake and it is already ten to nine. Late for work! The Baron hot foots it out of the door, down the stairs, across the courtyard and out of the estate onto the Mile End Road. He is headed in the direction of Bow Road Underground station, when he becomes aware that cars driving past him are tooting their horns and flashing their lights. The Baron also becomes aware how dusky the sky is looking for such an early hour.

Slowly it dawns on him that it is not nine a of m, but nine p of m. Nightime in other words. And not only that, but he has sleepwalked the whole way, and moreover has done so wearing only his Y-fronts.

Sheepishly the Baron retraces his steps, gingerly now on bare feet across the courtyard, enduring the cat calls of the kids who hang around there and for whom he has provided much merriment minutes earlier, up the stairwell to the flat door. Now here’s a problem. Of course the flat door is locked now, it having closed on the yale lock earlier when he “leaves for work”. This is where the story gets interesting on two counts. One: unbeknown to the Baron while he was in bed reading the insides of his eyelids, flatmate Peadar had arrived home in a similar state, as our hero , having forgotten to eat his lunch too. Two: the Baron decides in his wisdom to knock on the flat next door and borrow some kind of implement which will allow him to gain access. (His preferred route being through the toilet window – see “Look on the brightside, its Norman Whiteside“) Now, just put youself in the position of the neighbour for a minute. There you are, minding your own buisness on a friday night in your flat on a grubby East End estate. There is a knock at the door which you go and answer to be greeted by the sight of a deranged skinny white nobleman dressed only in Y fronts and apparently talking in tongues. “Hammer!” He pleads – and they give him one!

But the lunacy doesn’t end there. Oh no. As the Baron makes a bit too good job of demolishing the toilet window, he wakes up Peadar, still sleeping up to that point inside. Peadar thinks he is being burgled and begins to shout, taking a variety of voices in an attempt to trick his would-be assaillant that there is more than one person inside.

Finally, the two realise who each other are and as the Baron returns the hammer, Peadar opens the door.

“Jesus what a shock” says Peadar “I need a drink” says the Baron “Fancy a pint?”

And the moral of this little tale? Well if neither of them had forgotten their lunch, none of this would have happened.

Bow Bridge Estate

© Andy Daly 2012

Steve, in the unlikely event you should ever read this, I know you’re not from Barking, but Basildon didn’t scan as well.