Reflecting on the bus journey home the other day, it occured to me that I’ve never been to any of the pubs in my neighbourhood. Why? I think it’s got something to do with the fact that when I first arrived here years ago, the area was a place with “great potential” but not quite there yet. The Woolworths on the High Street was kind of run-down, not many houses had double-glazing and you could park almost anywhere for free because the car per capita density was quite low. Thinking about it a bit more made me realise that there were hardly any restaurants in the area either. That was the mid 1990s. But the housing was “affordable”, which is why I moved here to buy my first home.
Anyway, the pubs. There were quite a few. But in my mind they were pretty much “no go” pubs. You could tell by the look and demeanour of the clientele that would enter and exit those pubs as you walked by; these were the sorts of places that I probably wouldn’t enjoy being in very much. This was often confirmed by the regular articles and submissions to the letters columns of the free local papers that get shoved through the door every week. It seems that several of the pubs were trouble flashpoints, and often the focal point for much resident ire and Police attention.
A lot has changed in the last ten years though. Despite being a fairly average looking London suburb today, there are considerably more people (or else there are more people with more cars anyway) and it follows that there are more people with more money, and therefore more influence. The Woolworths is not as run-down as it used to be. Everybody has double-glazing and a few of the pound shops on the High Street are now small Asian fashion boutiques or vegetarian restaurants. You can’t park your car on the High Street for free any more. In fact you can’t even park your car any more because there’s never any space, it’s that crowded.
And the pubs: pretty much all the “no-go” ones have either closed awaiting redevelopment – or else are under new management and have been converted into family-friendly Indian restaurants instead. The Honeypot used to be one of those pubs. It is rumoured that it used to employ a permanent broken-glass collector. That was then. Now it’s a very popular restaurant called Spice Rack – and has an adjacent paan house and ice-cream parlour.
(With adjacent paan house and ice-cream parlour)
So – there really aren’t many proper pubs left in my part of my neighbourhood. I suppose I had better try out the two that are left before they disappear.