Meeting the public

Last night I went along to the SE5Forum Meeting at Cambridge House. Most of the business was the election of the committee and confirmation of the constitution (hopefully a copy will be online soon), so discussion was thin on the ground. I’m sure that future meetings will have scope for extra participation.

It was actually quite wonderful to see so many different people from all ages and backgrounds coming together because they want to have some input into their living environment; it made me feel a flutter in my cynical black heart.

I’m not sure if any of my regular readers were there, as we were using real names instead of nome-de-webs. I did meet someone (sorry, I forgot your name) who thanked me for the site, which briefly made me feel like a mover and shaker. If you were there and want to place me, I was in a black t‑shirt and brown shorts, and sweating profusely as I’d just scarfed down my dinner and rushed over on the bicycle.

You can see a few photos from the meeting here. More to follow at the site, sometime in the near future.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

48 thoughts on “Meeting the public”

  1. Peter, I think it was Eugene who thanked you for being you.

    And after you left about ten people said in awe “Peter Gasston was here? Where is he? Where’s he gone? I wish I’d met him” You mover and shaker you.

    I’m so knackered today I don’t know what to do. It’s the weather of course.

    And I don’t drink proper beer, even though I’m not a web designer.

  2. I had cider last night for the heat. I believe it is full of arsenic. That’s how it feels today. I am out of sorts. And my mouse has been playing up.

  3. Yes, I have verbal diarrhoea. Yesterday in the humid heat, the cider had turned to cheap calvados in my system and I was very jittery. As I shuffled through Lucas Gardens on the way to buy my Guardian, there were three skeletal, dance-of-death drug people dealing, in the bushes but only just, very publicly. They had that hell-bent air only the crack and smack people have. The main dealer looked like Gandalf gone horribly wrong. There were two community wardens on the main road so I said jitterily, “I think they’re dealing in there.” The poor fellows really should be put in a van and given a couple of years of treatment and care. However, my own absinthe-fiend-like condition made my citizen’s concern somewhat hypocritical.

  4. Out of thread but:

    British Raj. They went out of business but decided to refurbish anyway. And went out of business proper.

    Solicitor’s office further down the road: Possibly the new office of the Neighbourhood Renewal team who have been housed in the first floor office at Camberwell ‘leisure’ centre for a couple of years.

    S’funny. Not a lot of people knew that…

  5. The Raj — Funny how restaurants seem to think they can get away with nice decorations but rotten food — In Camberwell folk aren’t going to make the effort to go to the restaurant if it’s crap — because there is a lot less disposable income than some of the more affluent areas of North London…

  6. There’s also Safa just across the road, which made going to the Raj pointless.

    I’d like to see a Mexican or Latin American restaurant opening in the area, as has been happening down at the Elephant.

  7. LH — La Bodeguita isn’t a bad place is it? The only jewel in E&C Shopping centre along with TLON Books…

  8. LH — Well worth an evening there, food is homemade style and is very reasonably priced — and on some nights DJ’S and salsa dancing (if you like that sort of thing…)

  9. @Mushtimushta: Take a look at

    There used to be a Brazilian restaurant in Camberwell, which is now the Cypriot Centre (I think) on Datchelor Place (if memory serves).

    And there was, of course, the Espana tapas bar — now closed for ‘refurbishment’…

    But yes, a a place like La Bodeguita would go down well; mind you, so would a Japanese; I do like my Sushi.

  10. There’s a restaurant in Kensington called, I think, Giraffe that has “Global Cuisine” and “World Music”. Funnily enough I’ve never been.

    Personally I like Patty Island for the Stewed Chicken and wish they’d open up a restaurant. Or what about an Argentinian steak house?

  11. The Brazilian restaurant was owned and run by Luciano, who was married to a lovely English woman who’s name I can’t remember.

    The food was good Luciano was charming but he struggled with running it all on his own with occasional help from a couple of Brazilian friends / students (employment issues; paye; NI; vat; rent; rates; etc) which caused problems.

    Luciano was the first manager at Pacific Bar (which I woned and lost a lot of money over a battle with Southwark Entertainments Licensing Department — all unwritten history now but it nearly put me out of house and home), which then became Babushka; The Snug: The Snug in second guise; The Castle and now, rumours around of it being possibly something else before long.

  12. As model tapas bars in UK I like Meson Don Felippe on The Cut, that huge one in Clapham I used to go to a lot when it was half the size, and recently Tapas Brindisa at Borough Market (steeep prices mind).

    Pray tell more about La Bodeguita, what do you like about it? I’ve not been there.

  13. I remember when Luciano closed down the Brazilian restaurant to become manager at Pacific; I was quite annoyed that he’d been poached, because I used to love the shark in his restaurant. Now I know that it was you, Mark, who took my shark away.

  14. Mark — is the Clapham tapas bar you’re talking about El Rincon Latino on Clapham Manor Street? If so totally agree, a great place. Second only to Meson Don Felippe which I love.

    Has anyone been to the new Portugese deli on Coldharbour Lane? Looks like it might be OK from the outside…

  15. The Portugese Deli on Coldharbour lane (Chave Do Doro) is very good — My flatmate whose family come from Maderia introduced me to their custard tarts — a revelation !! They are absolutely delicious. I have always hated the nasty damp, floppy aenemic english custard tarts, but there are wonderful!

  16. The custard tarts are called ‘Pastel de nata’, they are usually made with condensed milk. Absolutely delicious when made properly.

  17. Just down from the Sun and Doves — thinking about it may have to abandon my work and go and get some custard tarts now!

  18. El Rincon Latino on Clapham Manor Street is excellent, family run too — they are from Asturias — Northern Spain — is where the true Gastronomy comes from on the Iberian Penninsula!!! (and Northern Portugal) The La Rueda Restaurant and Tapas on Clapham High Street used to be excellent but in recent years the food just hasn’t been up to the very high standard it used to be…something simular in Camberwell would be great though

  19. La Bodeguita IS excellent, good Columbian food and the atmosphere reminds you of a South American cafe. There is a Bolivian restaurant on the Old Kent Road, not sure what it is like tho as have never been. As for Mexican food I am not convinced vthere is a good Mexican, ie NOT Tex Mex this side of the atlantic — at least since Si Senor on Dean Street closed to become a Revolution but would love to be proved wrong.…

  20. Let’s have a few more La Bodeguita’s and a lot less Subway type establishment’s please!!! — Apparently La Bodeguita has secured a prime location at the centre of the new Elephant & Castle redevelopment because even Southwark Council (never the sharpest tools in the box) have realised what a great contribution they have made to the Elephant these past few years…

  21. Custard tarts… custard tarts… It’s all coming back to me. That Brazilian restaurant in Datchelor Place was great, really friendly, fab food. The Pacific was great, great name, nice atmosphere. Now it’s a processing centre for anaemic…Is that Chave do Douro, “Key to the Douro [river/region of Portugal]” or Chav with Gold, Duh!

  22. anyone checked out the new Thai place where that awful Spanish restaurant used to be? On Coldharbour lane sandwiched between a couple of Crown & Glory’s.. must have only opened in the last couple of weeks..

  23. The restaurant in Church Street which used to be 4 Real …, and before that Calabar Kitchen, looks as though it’s about to reopen as Miura Bar and Kitchen. A separate door leads to Miura Members’ Lounge. When I walked past on Saturday it was full of boxes of supplies and equipment — I saw champagne and a deep-fat fryer about to be unpacked.

  24. There is an interesting development by Southwark Council — “swapXchange” — you post up goods or services you want to offer or dispose of, and say what you’d like to have in exchange — a bottle of wine or whatever. Some people leave it to the other party to decide what to give in exchange: There are a number of methods these days of disposing of things you don’t want — online auctions, Freecycle, etc. But the beauty of this one is that it’s local.

  25. Luc, Saw the Thai place yesterday when i was walking home — looked interesting. I think we need a volunteer to try it out.

    Looking at these posts you’d think all we ever think about in Camberwell is food — about right really. I feel a Camberwellonline restaurant meet up coming on — maybe a prize for the person who can introduce us to an undiscovered Camberwell gem.

  26. The Miura bar is open now, I went past at around 12.30am on Saturday night/Sunday morning and it was rammed. An exclusively black clientele — maybe taking business away from the mysterious Fus club a bit further down.

    As for talking about food, I think that’s mainly because it feels like 90% of the businesses in the area deal with food or drink.

  27. It is also the bouillabaise of clientele that is interesting to us, web designers cheek-by-jowl with dinosaurs, peope who are clearly artistic in some way, many from foreign parts; natives and aliens, familiar faces and other.

    Talking of other, I was pedalling past Denmark Hill station yesterday and there was my old friend the white, crazed junkie looking a little better for his absence from SE5, ready to latch on to people on the Grove, women in particular. He looks a bit like a hungry, shrunken Jimmy White. I wonder if he takes the train to Denmark Hill from wherever he is homeless (this is his opener).

    I am sympathetic in some way, but he calls me foul names which brings out the Zidane in me. I often think, mm, it’d be quite nice to have the time to read Proust in nick.

  28. Peter / Luciano: I didn’t poach him: he came willingly and in part we timed Pacific’s opening to suit his shutting his own business and it was an interim before going to Brazil to set up a Churrasquiera.

    Chave do Douro: Chavs, Gold, Keys and the Geography all in one: is good, the staff very on the ball and friendly, it’s good value and the Pastel de natas are authentic. Of course.

    La Rueda: that’s the one. Used to be very good — very Spanish — but that was twenty years ago.

    El Rincon: if you go there in a large group for set dinner they dole out gallons of awful wine, loads of rubbish food and act mysteriously when you ask where the other dishes you were expecting don’t come — like ‘oh we definitely served them and you all ate them — touch. Then a bill for £35 — £40 a head arrives and you can’t be bothered to argue the toss in case you actually Toss your…

    Miura: watch that space… if it doesn’t go the way of all other incarnations that occupied that site I will EEAT my HAT. (it was a French restaurant 20 years ago and La Mexicana 15 years ago). It should be a Deli, wine and coffee shop.

  29. Poached manager, mm. The music in the Pacific was really good. Now, if you’re trying to have a conversation in there, you’re distracted by Britney Spears bobbing around on a huge screen.

  30. Hannah, I know reading through this has made me chuckle that we’ve turned a discussion on the forum meeting to a restaurant review.

    Your event highlights this weekend should be

    Sat & Sun: Lambeth Country show @ Brockwell park. Great day out (Dagmar, wee Dagmar will love it, they have animals & bike display teams and a village green where she can sing & dance to her heart’s delight!). I realise it’s in Lambeth, but I’ve never needed my passport yet 😉

    Sun: Farmers market @ Dulwich college 9–1. lovely little market for buying fantastic sausages/ meat/ veg & fish.

    Sun Pm: turkish event on Southbank.
    went last year & had a ball, you can’t argue with a kebab lunch followed by Belly dancing!

  31. (First posting, regular reader.)

    Are people still updating the CamberwellWiki? I feel it’s looking a bit sorry at the mo. Some of the restaurant reviews would be really great on there.

    I went on yesterday and just plonked on the website for the BuddhaJazz (although I’ve yet to visit).

    Also — is there an online diary somewhere? Southwark’s website (as mentioned previously, I’m sure) is not comprehensive. Perhaps scope on Wiki?

  32. Hi Roana,

    The wiki is still active, but there’s not much interest in it at the moment. When I get time (sometime in 2012, as far as I can predict) I’ll be giving it a bit of a redesign to try to make it more attractive.

    There’s an events calendar on the website; it relies on public submissions so if it’s not comprehensive, that’s down to the users.

  33. Lisa, many thanks. We’ll be in the actual country this weekend. Camberwell Rosie aged 3 really likes the Vauxhall City Farm where her favourite creature is the cat. Baby Poppy aged 4 months is a piggy.

  34. More on the Lambeth Country Show… I’ve been the last 2 years and wouldn’t miss it for the world. Quite a surreal experience really…Rastafarian poets share space with sheep shearers and falconers. My favourite is the guy who carves ‘mushrooms’ (and only mushrooms!) out of tree trunks with a chainsaw…all weekend! Never seen anybody buy one though! Then there’s the funfair, the owls, indeed a whole farm. Fantastsic ethnic food stalls (my recommendation is for the jerk pork). Or take a picnic. This is a HUGE event and I don’t think gets anything like as much publicity as it deserves. Outside of London an show like this would set you back at least a tenner to get in, the LCS is free.

  35. LCS: Also, the stall that sells carnivorous plants is amazing — I highly recommend having a look if you’re down there. There’s a whole family working together to keep the specimens looking their best. Less “Von Trapp”, more “Fly Trap”… (sorry).

  36. Absolutely correct Lotty.

    Oxymoron: ‘collocation of words that have contradictory or sharply incongruous meanings’.

    Like: “Cruel to be Kind” “Conspicuous by Absence” “Thunderous silence” “Make haste slowly”

    All sound a bit like what’s been going on in:

    “Camberwell Green”

  37. That is brill, Mark. You should run an enlightened pub or something.

    Easy SE5.

    Interesting Islington.

    Nothingy Notting Hill.

    The last one isn’t quite an oxymoron. I went to Oxford and found many of my fellow students really stupid. There is a fabulous Icelandic word, “heimskrur”, meaning “He who cannot leave home,” which means “stupid”. People who are stuck in their ways are stupid. Camberwell is such a flux of people, you just have to keep thinking, which is great.

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