weirdwalthamstow

My embarrassing Higham Hill post

In Drink, Places on April 9, 2017 at 5:32 pm

I bet that subject line got your attention.

So I’ve lived in Higham Hill for 13 years yet haven’t really explored my local area much. Walked up Higham Hill road a couple of times and a bit of Blackhorse Lane. I think the problem is I’ve rarely had the time. I used to work in Surbiton, then a West End job working crazy hours, then my current job in Chiswick. The 3 years I was out of work in the recession contained crippling depression. Spending weekends at my partner’s near the high street means I’m not much in my home area.

But today I got home and got the vacuuming done and thought “Fuck staying in on a sunny afternoon. Fuck being that guy.” So I went out for a walk. Time for a nice, cold beer. Time to try some local pubs.

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Facelift?

Just a 10 minute walk up the hill from my flat is the Warrant Officer. Lots of scaffolding on the outside didn’t stop it being open on a Sunday afternoon and it was pleasantly quiet. The sound system was playing various Americana  from Country to blues to a ‘Lighter Shade of Pale’. Speaking of pale I chose a pint of 13 Guns yank IPA. They had a couple of ale taps on but I was in the mood for something cold. £4 tells me I’m not in the pub at the West Midlands council estate I grew up in (seriously I get change from a twenty when I buy 6 pints at Xmas). I settled into a corner armchair to let life go by.

I’d rank the Warrant Officer under ‘nice estate pub’. It seems to have a bunch of middle aged and retired men making up the clientèle in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. It’s got a couple of TVs (not on, fortunately), pool table, free wifi. Apart from the mix of old chairs the décor revolves around military insignia and a case full what I think are replica flintlocks.

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Look, in the middle, a case full of guns!

Eschewing the wifi I sat, made a few notes for this post and enjoyed the music. I think I’ll be back for a quiet pint again sometime.

Fortified with a beer I decided to go look for  Higham Hill Park, which was just 2 minutes away. It was a bit smaller than I expected (Lloyd park has spoiled me, and is nearly as close) but has good facilities which were being well used; tennis courts, basketball courts, playground and playing field.

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So many of the trees are in blossom. Since there were loads of kids in the park I deliberately tried to avoid photographs with people in them.

I found myself a patch of grass to write some notes. And then stretched out for 20 minutes. It was warm with a cooling breeze and I found myself occasionally chuckling at how I never make time to make time for myself. I watched planes overhead leave contrails and pigeons flirt with each other.

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So, more beer. On a previous walk I’d noticed another pub and decided to try the Prince of Wales on St Andrews Road.

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Prince of Wales’ unassuming exterior.

No interior shot of this one. I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact I wasn’t the only bloke in the pub watching the football. This is your classic estate pub; choice of Guinness, John Smiths or Fosters (I went for lager on a warm day). Judging by the missing paint it’s not seen a decorator this century. Two of the three TVs in this smallish bar were showing the game. There’s a pool table and a one arm bandit if Sky Sports doesn’t get you excited. Looking out back there seems to be a beer garden.

While I may not be kind the ‘stow needs a mix of pubs to serve all of its residents. As we don’t have a ‘spoons it is pubs like this and the Lord Palmerston which serve the ‘basic’ end of the local beer trade.

While I doubt I’ll return to the last venue I hope to spend some time chilling in my local park. Certainly, I’ll drop into the Warrant Officer of an evening for a pint.

And next time I get chance for a walk I’ll try and venture a bit further North into my neighbourhood.

A World to Win. Posters of Protest and Revolution

In history on January 1, 2017 at 1:19 am

So just before Xmas I had a chance to go see this exhibition at the William Morris museum. And unusually I puposefully did not take any pictures. I was so moved by this beautifully curated (by the V&A) collection of protest posters with the stories behind each one from all around the world over the last centuary. I don’t want to spoil for you the intersection of activism, design and art that is collated here.

The pictures are grouped by themes and allow you to see different angles on similar causes from different cultures and times. There is a jukebox in the middle of the room that is full of protest songs from the likes of NOFX, John Cooper Clarke and Deacon Blue! It souldtracks the exhibit wonderfully and I could have spent hours working through its catalogue.

The exhibition is free (although I ask that you drop some change in the WM Museum collection box on the way out). The show is yet another win for the reinvigorated building; it’s funny to think the council wanted to slash its opening hours to a tiny amount. If they try that again I think some posters will be arranged…

Oxjam

In music, Uncategorized on November 22, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I posted a little while back about Oxjam, a charity music event supporting Oxfam. My partner and I got to go along for a couple of hours and I had a really great time.

In my 20’s I went to a lot of pub gigs and I had a thrill of nostalgia as we went up to the Rose & Crown’s function room, made our donation and got the traditional stamp on the back of the hand. We’d come in as the Wondersmiths were playing.

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The Wondersmiths clearly loving what they do

They’re  a melodic punk band to me. The singer reminded me a lot of Jordan Pundik from New Found Glory. As ever witha  pub gig the sound balance meant he was drowned out sadly, but performed with much zest!

The room was pretty full with around 30 people, although I later realised the back function room had been opened as a bar with some more in (I went downstairs to get real ale off the taps).

After a break it was time for Velodrome. I did not realise at the time but this was in fact organiser Katherine Evans! I wish I’d known, I’d have loved to meet and congratulate her. There was some wonderful unintentional comedy while her sound tech tried to stop the speakers from exploding.

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Velodrome opens her set.

Wow, what a set. With a couple of costume changes (I am so very annoyed the photo of the Tiger onsie did not come out) she was reminiscent of Bowie or Freddie Mercury. Playing guitar and bass with her laptop she reminded me of Laptop (Jessie Hartman’s solo project). Musically her dulcet tones and rhythmic guitar brought to mind The Nields on the guitar songs, but also The Knife on the more electronic tracks.

I was so very happy to be able to buy a CD of her music on the way out. Although tape albums were available; very hip. I was tempted, but having hundreds of tapes accumulated through my teen and student years I try to at least move forward with my technology. (I’m enjoying listening to the CD as I write this).

Sadly I was limited to just a couple of hours of this all evening gig. And I really mean that; I am genuinely sad I missed all the other bands. Very well done to Katherine, the volunteers and the bands involved. I’d love this to be an annual event. It’s exactly the sort of thing I hoped to find when I started this blog.