It’s ten days now since I’ve waited and rung the environmental lot in Waltham Forest four times for a single now single soaking wet mattress to be removed from my front yard. The last I was told by the office supervisor was that she would send an email, send an email! ( Garlic bread?) to escalate the job. That meant there was a note allegedly and not in pencil saying that the job should be done within 24 hours. Oh do me a favour! Should? The word “would” is juggling for position.
That’s why Waltham Forest is a mattress borough. It isn’t a mattress borough entirely because there’s a transient society here: There’s actually an huge stagnant society doing the right thing.
On the corner of my road is a built corner protector, a piece of ‘street furniture’ (I know!) which is used daily as a prop for people’s bags of rubbish, broken umbrellas, old cots and mattresses, strewn and ripped clothes previously left out for AgeUK collectors and whoever trades in rags. One day the council truck came a-collecting and I asked why fly-tippers were being excused and money spent sending out trucks and men to gather and dispose of people’s domestic rubbish. Answer “Oh, it’s the foreigners, see. They don’t know about how to dispose of rubbish.” Well, not on my and their back yards then! By that logic only white British-born, you know the new ethnic minority, know how to get rid of rubbish.
Behind what was the Burwell Residential Estate off Lea Bridge Road on the border of Waltham Forest and Hackney is the disgusting mess that is Argall Industrial Village. Its name changes like the weather but I like “industrial village” because it is so not that.
There are Argall Estate patrol cars checking out that all is well on the land, so I was told. The single decker bus W19 actually travels into it but ignores its own timetable so that’s not much use to residents. The place is nasty. Litter swirls around in any whiff of wind. Abandoned stinking mattresses provide hiding places for feral cats and the Black Path is known as Rats’ Alley by locals who know too well the stench of yeast and bread from Kingsmill. Hoo Hing Supermarket is a neon-lit beacon for those who lose their way or who fear being accosted by underage vagabonds. Only the mini-industry workers aka Eastern Europeans and nervous dog-walkers walk the walk.
In 1986 Argall Industrial Village was dire and on the brink of going under. It went under and post Olympics it is doubly dire. Like Hackney Wick it provides recyclable buildings for weekend churches where the white-robed congregations are not fussed about what they step in. Unlike in Hackney Wick, where established artists mix oils with Forman fish whiffs, other creative types safe in E17’s Tokarska Gallery and The Mill would only evaporate remotely in Argall.
I’ve yet to see what’s good about it. I try.
“Where there’s muck, there’s brass”, I mutter.
My lovely neighbour over the back fence who is long dead told me how in the thirties on a Thursday morning you could hear each door shut on the Burwell Estate as each housewife in her scarf and carrying her shopping basket or wheeling her wicker trolley made her way across the factories ( now the Argall Industrial Estate) and through the rat-ridden pathway (now The Black Path) up into St James’ Park and onto Coppermill Lane for the market day. Love that story. Her brother’s still at the back of me. He served in the army up in the Orkneys during WW2. Great geezer.