The Economist journalist ‘s tongue in his cheek echoed what so many knew, that the William Morris Gallery was tarted up because the Olympics was a-comin’. I move amongst people who have been rate-payers in Leyton for half a century and they have no idea that there is a Walthamstow Village or that the William Morris Gallery in the big house in a park somewhere up Forest Road is a public place for everyone to enjoy. Each time I visit the Gallery I never see evidence of the multi-cultural society which is Waltham Forest. Yer can’t please all of the people all of the time, eh?
And as for the “thrift” shop opposite, fast becoming a cultural wing of all things Lloydy…. hands off ye gentrifiers. That is the Sally Army Shop and the best second-hand shop in London. I will stand on the kerb and watch it transform into another hipsters’ den. What isn’t sold there? A handbag with a clasp selling at £42 in the Village will cost you a mere 50p and you get the original dust and a smile from the right ole proper counter staff.
The William Morris Gallery was changed to hit the spot so a new entrance with a shop was constructed, a tea room was put in, and the toilet doors were cleverly camouflaged with swirly Morris wallpaper designs. Upstairs, up the beautiful curly stairs, past the gorgeous huge and shiny door-knobs, the curator holds gigs for poetry and art lovers. Cue pre meet up delights at La Delice and a pint after at Ye Olde Rose and Crown whilst residents in Priory Court and Warner flats wonder why the lights are still on in Lloyd Park.
Time will pass and the die is cast. There is a programme of events right into 2013 but unless the coach-loads are pulled in then the volunteers have their work cut out and someone will have to justify the millions spent. One visit to see the Essex do-gooder’s swirly stuff is, by all accounts, enough.
What a fabulous evening. We High Street Seniors looked like we meant business in our yellow Hi -Viz jackets , carrying red rucksacks and walking with intention through the streets of Walthamstow Village at orange streaked sunset in jolly good company. Most of the seniors had not been to Walthamstow Village before so we stopped as dusk came down to check out the Ancient House, Vestry House Museum, St Mary’s Church, The Welcome Centre, the Almshouses, on and on. Total white people’s history to our multi ethnic High Street Seniors. (Well it is Black History Month). We all enjoyed looking and learning, then went around to Orford Road to qawp at Beautiful Interiors and The Asian Centre before a little sit-down in Beulah Road. Years ago I found out that my cousin owned the butcher shop in Beulah Road. I went along to see her and lo and behold she’d moved away the day before. The day before. That was when the village was nothing. Nothing to show off about, well before Asian centres and beautiful interiors. Aah and I see the music and theatre house is sold. High Street Seniors passed the warm lights of the pubs and Spar and went to Orford Social Club. I love the entrance and I love the wooden shutters on the window insides. There we listened to Louise’s talk about The Matchwomen’s Strike. Absolutely worth the walk and the visit.
On Monday we meet at 9pm for 9.15pm at the front entrance to The Waltham Oak on Lea Bridge Road, E10 www.googlemaps.com Buses 56, 257, W15 going towards Whipps Cross stop 2 mins away. Just a gentle walk for seniors at dusk through Walthamstow Village and environs. All welcome. If it’s raining it’s off.
Jolly good company!
After a couple of phone calls and a few text messages 5 seniors and I went on an impromptu walk up in Walthamstow Village. None of us was interested in watching on the box “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: Mother’s Day Special”. It is a fact that this year “Mother’s Day” has been promoted ceaselessly by the big marketing guns and retailers. Motherhood has reached seemingly the supreme heights of glorification outside of the mosque, church and temple. Lap it up. Indulge. (Baileys at a tenner instead of £18 in Morrisons. Can only be good!)
Our oldest High Street Senior on Saturday was 75 which as we know in 2011 is young. On that fine evening we met at 8 outside “Beautiful Interiors”. Lots going on in that shop always and currently there are pop-up shops. Penny usually does a wine and nibbles launch for any new venture, artist, exhibition and if you get on her emailing list, you’ll know what’s what.
We walked through the ‘village’ and up around towards St Mary’s Church. Waltham Forest is a very leafy green London 2012 borough. To me Walthamstow Village is a mostly quiet area just a stone’s throw from Walthamstow Market and the station. ‘London Greeters’ will be out in force to show it off. Years ago when I was size 12 and sizes were just being invented, I used to do the Christmas Post in Walthamstow Village. We called it Walthamstow Toni then. All the small one-up-one-down, packed-together terrace houses each had a front door porch and in each porch was always a low-burning paraffin heater. Always remember that smell and warmth. And the folk used to tip me generously.
It was nice to revisit as a High Street Senior especially together in the dark because unless you’re going to the local pubs up there or having a restaurant meal (expensively), then the area is dead and quiet at night. For an hour or so we claimed the streets before the foxes wetted their patches.
We hadn’t sorted going for a cuppa at the end of our outing. A W12 bus is always nearby; one of those hail and ride types. We all went home armed with leaflets about healthy hearts and the flyer for Thursday’s Olympic and Paralympic Games site viewing event. See Up Your street5 issue 13 in events on this site.
High Street Seniors is registered with the Mayor’s Cultural Diary to do high street walks during the Games. They are not guided walks per se but informal gatherings of seniors who want to enjoy a walk at dusk, together at the end of the day. During the Games there will be balmy evenings. There we will be, out, after bed-time!