Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hello old friend

Yesterday we were in East London for a birthday party, so decided to do that rather embarrassing thing where you revisit your old house and street.

I'm glad we did actually. It was really interesting to see how Wilton Way has changed -  the trendification continues. Our old flat was on the little row of shops that is now lauded in Time Out and the New York Times as the Williamsburg of East London. Since I was last there, a new wine shop has opened in the old post office, a hip hairdresser in the old hairdresser's, and an art book shop in a store that was closed for as long as I lived there.

It really is very impressive and a model for reinvigorating retail space that owes everything to people following their dreams and being mutually supportive, and nothing to Mary Portas. It's the sort of approach that could work in  Colchester, and I know that there are enough imaginative and creative people to make it happen. Maybe they just need to focus their efforts on a particular street to create a little hip quarter with its own vigour.

Anyway, back in East London, the thing that really made my day was bumping into my old neighbour Mr Abdul. He is an elderly Pakistani gentleman who used to run a small grocer's next door in the decidedly pre-hip days. The only thing vintage about his shop was him.

He is a delightful old gentleman and it was hard to pass him in the street without stopping to chat and then wondering where the time had gone. His younger son and I used to get completely lost in dissecting the weekend's football results.

It was a lovely surprise to spot him walking down the street, looking slightly out of place among all the fashionistas and yummy mummies that now make up the local scene. I extended  my hand to shake his, only to be embraced in a big bear hug. It was most unexpected and not a little humbling - it's nice to be missed. We had the two boys with us as well, who he always showed an interest in, and was probably surprised to see how big they have become in the past two years. We spoke about how he was (health not so good), his wife (ditto), his son and his family (still living with them, and looking after his parents - good boy! Got a good job with Deloitte, although his first love was football and he had trials with Ipswich).

And then we went our way. It's possible I'll never see him again, which is a very sad thought.

Elsewhere in my old manor there were lots of other changes, not least the arrival of Boris Bikes. In the past I've called for them to be in East London and now you can hardly move for them, certainly in the strip from the West End to the Olympic Stadium.

We also lunched at Hackney City Farm, still a haven for young families and still a big it with the kids. Nice to be back, if only for a day.

1 comment:

Sister said...