Our friends in the north

Proving that northerners with chips on their shoulder are also a London phenomenon comes this travelogue from Euston-resident Skip.

In a recent article, he describes a visit to Brockley:

"I once had a friend who lived somewhere far-flung that began with B. You could reach him via an exhausting combination of tube, train and DLR. At the station were trees, fields and cows. This is not South London. This is simply a way of letting the good folk of Kent see Les Mis.

"Brockley was lovely. It has a few streets of Very Nice Houses that have been lovingly done up by people Who Wish They'd Bought In Kentish Town When They Had The Chance. It had a lot of trees (each decorated with a picture of a different lost cat), and a variety of 50s utility furniture and Christmas trees lining the pavements.

"It also has a Tesco. As Tescos go, it looked like those lonely outposts in Star Trek that are casually wiped out by marauding Klingons. Nervous staff stood behind a counter, ready to beam out at the first sign of trouble. The stock was almost entirely crisps and nappies. "It's really changed the area," said my friend Joe, "There's even a gay couple who shop in here sometimes. You never saw them at the 24-hour corner shop.""

Brockley Jon sent us this link in the hope that we'd pick a fight with Skip. But while it is news to us that anyone, anywhere wishes they'd bought in Kentish Town and it is worth pointing out that you only need an "exhausting combination of tube, train and DLR" if you start in the wrong place and come the wrong way, we don't think this article is worth a row. After all, Skip does skewer some of Brockley's best and worst qualities fairly neatly and living in a shoebox in soulless Euston is surely punishment enough.

Instead, this article prompts an interesting question. Many months after the furore that greeted Tesco's arrival on Lewisham Way - has it "really changed the area" for good or ill? No shops have been put out of business, we probably have a new Chinese Restaurant and a new step for a homeless guy to sit, but other than that, we can't see any of the ripple effect that we were warned about.

Have we missed something?

43 comments:

Brockley Kate said...

The cash machine is jolly useful!

Do dah said...

We have Costcutters and TSOTH both of which for me are much closer and on certain items less expensive than the Tescos.

As for Skip, he seems to be aiming for urbane city raconteur, but sadly is achieveing the level of low grade Grub Street hack.

Monkeyboy said...

This article will spark some discussion....

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/consumer/story/0,,2229591,00.html

Monkeyboy said...

This article will spark some discussion....

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/consumer/story/0,,2229591,00.html

The Brockley Telegraph said...

I think that the cash machine has created additional demand in the vicinity (I dont think the cash machine was originally talked about when we were talking doom and gloom about tescos before).

I personally wouldn't judge the decline/lack of decline just yet. This would take circa 2-5 years to judge and will most probably happen relatively. i.e. You will not see a existing shop 'expand' in the future, whereas maybe it would of done if there was no tescos. Obviously, this would affect grocery stores only and thinking about it....

...wasn't half a local grocery store closed to make way for the chinese restaurant? Well, theres your answer.

barryls said...

Moved to SE4 from W9/NW6 a year and a bit ago and loving every minute here.

The people are friendlier and the q. of life much better.

Vive La B.

lb said...

The numerous convenience store-type places along Lewisham Way seem to have been able to coexist with each other well enough up till now - I doubt Tesco will have made an immense difference to their takings. After all, the ones along Loampit Hill appear to be surviving despite the additional Tesco at the garage there, as well as the large-size Tesco behind Lewisham station.

The only people trying to claim the store's arrival has had any dire impact on the area were the Brockley Society in their newsletter, though given as they also tried to claim the Memorial Gardens were a mess (they're not) and that the road was lined with empty shops (it's not) I'm not entirely convinced.

Plus that cash machine is very handy, as others have said.

lb said...

By the way, looking at Skip's article I don't think the 'exhausting combination of tube, train and DLR' paragraph is meant to refer to Brockley, but to somewhere else he vistsed in the past. Bromley, probably.

Anonymous said...

I think the novelty has worn off a bit esp. as the Tesco's have less variety on some lines like juice and their wine is dear! Ironically they also have less crisps than costcutters Anyway we should pity this poor man 'Skip' as he appears to live in a railway station which must be horrible and even then does not seem to grasp the transport system.

drakefell debaser said...

I have been to that Tescos a few times but I have always been disappointed with whats available, particularly fresh vegetables so I don’t bother anymore. The cash point is of no convenience to me as it is quicker to go to Barclays near Crofton Park Station.

Anonymous said...

I quite often end up going to the Tesco petrol garage instead. Come to think of it, as well as those two there's the Lewisham MegaTesco too, all pretty close to each other.

Tywhitt michael said...

Its obvious:

He got the tube to London Bridge

The train to Lewisham

The DLR to Deptford bridge

Then walked up Tanners Hill.

Hey presto Brockley spread before you.

No I wouldn't have gone that way either, but then I wouldn't have started from where he did!

drakefell debaser said...

yeah the whole road is Tesco'd up, the garage is pretty good so i dont understand why they decided to open a new shop when they could have just made the garage one bigger or better.

tyrwhitt road said...

I reckon this article is closer to Brockley's heart than the one Monkey Boy recommends


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/waitrose-to-open-convenience-stores-in-pursuit-of-16327bn-market-863051.html

But then what do I know?

Monkeyboy said...

hey, I'm strictly on the fence on this one. Just threw the article into the mix.

jon s said...

The Waitrose convenience stores will be competition for the take away business of local restaurants/Delis/Cake shops/etc. and their own online business, not really Tescos.

Wouldn't mind one though a good penetration strategy is to go to areas without organised, chain competition (like Brockers).......

spincat said...

the good thing, i have always felt, about the absence of tube trains in south east London is that it keeps idiots away

fabhat said...

i am always oddly annoyed by the use of the term overland - it's just the train - it's not a confused version of the tube...

Anonymous said...

Bizaarly people never seem to use 'train' much - and 'overground' always ends up sounding snappier than 'mainline rail services'

spincat said...

the usual phrase, used when lazy journalists describe visitng a south east london restaurant/club, is that they had to 'trek' or 'trek out' to it, as if they were a beleagured husky team and not someone getting on a perfectly sensible train or bus...

Hugh said...

Ironic thing being that journalists earn nurses' wages so couldn't afford to buy in Brox.

Hugh said...

Monkeyboy, that link you posted doesn't work. Give it us again old son.

Headhunter said...

Yeah it's quite funny that London journalists just can't seem to get their heads around SE London. Time Out runs a column at the moment in which one of their journalists is taking a trip on every bus route in London in numerical ascending order. This week he reached the number 36 which he says runs from Queen's Park on the Bakerloo Line (note the comforting reference to the Tube for N Londoners) "finishing deep in the south east at New Cross Gate", note the use of the word "deep".

NCG is actually probably closer to London's official centre (one of the statues in Traf Sq) than QP!

However change is afoot, Time Out is starting to discover Peckham which it often labels the new Shoreditch or something similar in articles, so perhaps sometime they may notice Brockley isn't in Kent....

lb said...

I'm going to again point out that the following paragraph:-

"I once had a friend who lived somewhere far-flung that began with B. You could reach him via an exhausting combination of tube, train and DLR. At the station were trees, fields and cows. This is not South London. This is simply a way of letting the good folk of Kent see Les Mis"

is clearly not about Brockley, but referring to another place visited in the past, so (whatever his other faults) "Skip" isn't labouring under the delusions that Brockley has to be reached via train, bus and DLR, or that it's in Kent.

Having said that, the majority of journos I know live in North London and take cabs wherever possible. - I'm not sure they've even seen the DLR.

Brockley Nick said...

@lb - possibly it's pure coincidence that he's talking about two different places beginning with B in South London. I read it as a rehashing of the old joke about how anything further south than Bankside is really Kent.

In any case, I can't imagine any destination in South London that would best be reached by taking the tube, train and DLR from Euston.

"Perhaps he didn't set off from Euston," you say? I don't intend to spend any more time considering the possibilities ;)

Tom said...

aargh, self-consciously fashionable people irk me somewhat. looking down your nose at something because it's not been in the correct magazine, or might not impress your friends, is the behaviour of a child.

Hugh said...

Most people love children.

Tom said...

snobby children though? surely they are the worst

Monkeyboy said...

Hugh, the link should work if not try " julie Burchill Tesco Guardian" in google. You'll find it.

Anonymous said...

That Guardian article is a touch of class - love it! And a point that sadly needs making in todays society.

Hugh said...

You mean the society where people don't bother learning how to use apostrophes?

Anonymous said...

What an apt follow-up to an article about pretentious tossers...

Anonymous said...

Hugh may be interested to know that a News Editor for a Sunday Tabloid lives around the corner from him......so journalists can afford Brockley.

Monkeyboy said...

Excellent! Can we have our own local 'Nazi Orgy Sex Romp' expose? I know a local Nazi who would be well up for it.

Tressillian james said...

Really, Monkeyboy - don't be so harsh on yourself

Monkeyboy said...

Hey, don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

Luke Silburn said...

Dragging this back OT, as mentioned upthread the convenience store next door to Tescos has halved it's size in order to accomodate the new restaurant. From talking to the cashiers there, that was a direct response by the proprietor to the arrival of Tescos.

Also the sandwich shop which opened last year at the far end of the parade on the other side of Lewisham Way has now closed down. I doubt that it would have survived if Tesco hadn't opened (the location was terrible IMO) but I understand (this is second hand hearsay so who knows?) that Tesco turning up within six months of them opening didn't help their morale and may have caused them to pull the plug quicker than they would have otherwise done.

For us the main boon is having a cash point just around the corner. Although being able to pick up a remaindered bunch of flowers for a quid is nice.

I agree with the brockley telegraph - the impact will play out over a longer period than a year.

Regards
Luke

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Yes, it will be interesting to see.

I havn't formulated a view yet as to whether or not the increased demand (via the installation of a cash point) has equated to offset the increase in the supply (to prevent any further closures) so I would be very interested to hear what happens to this strech of the road.

Anonymous said...

As a lewisham way resident for 18 months, I was keen on the arrival of Tesco. Yes, I knew it would be expensive, no I don't like the idea of independent businesses going to the wall (if they are quality), but the fact is that the 'grocery' stores on the 'Way' were/are horrible places. They are dirty, expensive and with very low quality produce in a lot of areas. It seemed to me like they had local residents over a barrel. Now they have had to shape up to match a cleaner, better quality rival. The demographic of the area has altered with some Brock residents now clearly prepared to have a quick in and out raid of Tesco/ATM. On the whole, this is surely a good thing?

Trixie said...

Anonymous said... 'the fact is that the 'grocery' stores on the 'Way' were/are horrible places. They are dirty, expensive and with very low quality produce in a lot of areas'
You clearly have't been in any of them then...!
Regarding Tescos, I use the cash machine sometimes, glance at the reduced items as sometimes you can get steak for 45p! maybe buy meat but everything else is of worse quality or is more expensive than the chinese shop next door. Tescos also has absolutely NO variety. The veg from the chinese shop is great (esp the tomatoes) and the variety of chinese, turkish and polish foods and seasonings is massive.
If you really have lived here for 18 months I would hope that you would have tried a local shop with an open mind. Tescos food is not better quality, just more neatly packaged.

Anonymous said...

I have indeed used the other shops - there was no alternative for the first few months of living here. The fruit and veg has always been rank. A decent loaf is also impossible. These basics tend to be what I use local shops for. The service is also rubbish - particulary in the chinese place where the guy is always on his phone, or the staff are busy talking amongst themselves.
I absolutely agree tesco is expensive and a bit of a con, but at the very least it is clean, they throw rotten produce away and the staff work for their living.

fabhat said...

the chinese shop sells the best polish bread, and whenever I've been in there, they are very friendly. I don't buy veg from there, but have bought big bunches of herbs for much less than tescos sell them for. The tesco is full of ready food and high cost items, rather than staples you might want. I do use it for organic milk and flowers as well as the cashpoint, but would rather use the local shops if at all possible.

lb said...

I've no idea which local shops people are finding decent vegetables in, I've been in them all and they're all terrible. Tesco ones are pretty bad too, but at least they're not half-rotten.

You can usually get the best vegetables at the TFC (Turkish supermarket) in Lewisham in my experience.

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