Saturday, 18 March 2006

Early London

A reader's email reminded me of some early London memories. The particular memory was as a kid in the 70s cycling with my sister and dad to Dunkin Donuts (for at least two decades I thought it was Duncan Donuts) on Farringdon Road on Sunday mornings to collect 8 donuts - two each a white iced one and a brown iced one - to take back for breakfast. The streets would be deserted, not a soul around, just the buildngs, the sunlight and a very occassional car.

We would sometimes pass Smithfield meat market, stopping to peer inside at the men carting big slabs of beef around on wooden trolleys or over their shoulders. Sawdust and the smell of raw meat.

We would also walk around Covent Garden which at the time had many open spaces, where buildings had been demolished, that were turned into public gardens - sunken, below street level, full of hippies. Covent Garden is claustrophobic now by comparison.

I remember riding routemaster buses down Pentonville Road from the stop by the reservoir on the corner of Amwell Street. One time there was a man with one leg - his trouser folded up where the other leg was missing (caused much embarrassement asking my mother why he only had one leg). I also remember a man in a sheepskin coat who got up from the bench seat to stand when it got crowded, his coat being too thick for 4 to sit comfortably.

We used to go to Regent's Park for picnics in the summer. I wanted to live in one of those cream coloured houses with two columns outside. In the summer of 76 mum's flip flop got stuck to the melted tarmac and broke. Which I expect was funny, although I don't quite remember.

Our local grocer was Mr Lloyds (commonly known to everyone except me as Fatty Lloyd on account of his rotund figure). A large man who wore a navy blue and white stripped apron. The counter was wooden (I think) and they stacked the goods in triangular configurations. We also bought 10p mix bags of sweets from the sweet shop. You'd get fried eggs, spaceships, liquorish, buttons with sprinkles, coca cola bottles, bubblegum, marshmallow banana thingys amongst other things. My sister was always fond of a sherbert dip.

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