Brockley and Brockley: Is life naturally comic or tragic?

Springfield Abe: And with that, a mighty cheer went up from the heroes of Springfield. They had brought the sacred tree back to its native soil, and though Flanders was stuck with the impound fee, he could easily afford it.
Shelbyville Abe: And with that, a mighty cheer went up from the heroes of Shelbyville. They had banished the awful lemon tree forever, because it was haunted. Now let's all celebrate with a cool glass of turnip juice.
- The Simpsons, Lemon of Troy

Yesterday, someone other than us said something very insightful on Brockley Central. In the discussion that followed Brockley Ben's chicken shop exclusive, reader Hmmm suggested:

I think you have to be 'a-look-on-the- brightside, happy, sociable, non jugdemental person to appreciate Brockley.

We think that's probably true, since it is possible to walk through Brockley and see both beauty and squalor at the same time. You can look at Brockley station and dwell on the ugly hut or focus on the rows of flowers planted by Brockley residents. You can complain that there are too few places to go out locally or you can take advantage of the huge range of local events organised throughout the year.

And because Brockley can divide opinion in this way, perhaps it attracts more optimists than pessimists. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why it's such a nice place to live. So, which are you - an optimist or a pessimist? We've started a poll - please cast your vote.

34 comments:

a question said...

Can I ask whether you think being a 'realist' actually means you're being a 'pessimist'?

Brockley Nick said...

That is for you to decide. Either answer is perfectly acceptable. You will not have your key to the city taken off you if you declare yourself a pessimist.

Mb said...

Shall I vote for Lou?

mintness said...

I'd prefer to call my attitude "positively defensive", just as I am when any equally-attractive-and-ugly place I've lived comes up in conversation, be it Brockley, Newcastle, Hamburg or elsewhere.

For that matter, I've never lived anywhere that *didn't* have that mixture of attractive and ugly going on (and that's just a Friday night out in Geordieland - arf!), and I really don't think I'd want to. It's what keeps a place interesting, not to mention affordable.

Either way, I suppose a willingness to defend an area to the hilt despite its flaws constitutes optimism more than it does pessimism, so count me among the optimists.

Anonymous said...

What about 'Mungalist'?

Dunno about pessimistic but definitely pedantic said...

Aren't optimist and pessimist nouns? So the question should be Are you naturally AN optimist or A pessimist? Or alternatively Are you naturally optimistic or pessimistic?

TM said...

I used to think that I was an optimist but having had a cause to register the amount of graffiti around St Johns Station recently, I have become very pessimistic for the future of the Human Race.

Brockley Nick said...

Oh yes, well spotted, missed an an in the poll. I don't need to poll to tell me the proportion of the Brockley population which is pedantic.

Paddyom said...

I have good and bad days in my view of Brockley. Generally i think its fine, sometimes I think its bliss but other days I think its a dump and im straight on rightmove. I guess everywhere has its up and downsides.

M said...

I have very polarised expectations of Brockley. On one hand, the effort that goes into local events is heartening. on the other, the twat picks up their dog's turd, puts it in a nappy bag and then just leaves it on the pavement outside my house f#?ks me off!

Brockley Ben said...

Nick: I think you mean "... *that* is pedantic"

Sir Humphrey said...

Nick, your poll invites an 'optimist' response. In the full context of the post, the question could basically be restated as 'are you One of Us, or not?'

@Brockley Ben - you've been spending too much time with your Word grammar checker!

Lou Baker said...

I am an optimist.

One day you'll all realise you're wrong.

Ed said...

I agree with Paddydom (and to some extent Giovanni from the originating post). Love it sometimes but regularly and genuinely upset by local goings on... (e.g. van driver that drive into the tea factory whilst parking on the pavement, my car vandalised outside the station, bass in my home from passing cars)

(clicked optimist but don't think this is Nick's best poll)

Brockley Nick said...

@Sir Humph - since it's an anonymous poll, I doubt anyone will feel brow-beaten into casting their vote a certain way - although perhaps a pessimist might...

Irate Paddy said...

Ed - bass off passing cars is probably the number 1 most annoying thing about Brockley. My walk back from Brockley station to Adelaide (7mins tops) averages about 10 each night, especially in Summer. I sometimes want to throw a brick through their car windows and yell 'yes, now we are all looking at you, you tw@t'... and I wish they'd bore off with their gansta'crap music...angry for no reason innit.

Sir Humphrey said...

I'm not suggesting brow-beating; quite the opposite actually - you've offered a carrot rather than stick. If we classify ourselves as optimists we become one of the reasons Brockley is such a nice place to be!

I'm also not actually disagreeing with your article, I'm just saying that it will lead to a skewed poll.

I love Brockley for all the reasons you mention and more, and take every opportunity to proclaim its virtues to friends who have the misfortune to live elsewhere.

westsider said...

I do appreciate that in one day we get quotes from the simpsons and gus van sant, references to christian slater classics and woody allen films. You don't get that from the news shopper. keep it up

Mung the Merciless said...

Isn't this kind of binary thinking an inaccurate and reductive way of expressing how our minds interact with the external world?

As far as I can tell there'll be small but steady improvements in living standards, diversity of olives , nice plantsa around the station etc., offset by our impending journeys toward the grave.

westsider said...

Mung it's based on Melinda and Melinda, the film about whether life is a comedy or a tragedy

Howard said...

I'm certainly a pessimist by nature--in fact, that's very probably my greatest self-imposed problem! But I'm an optimist about Brockley. I pitched up here because I needed somewhere to live I could afford, and it turned out much better than I could have expected. It's also improved quite markedly in the 13 years I've been living here.

I agree with mintness about Newcastle and about Hamburg too for that matter...

Pessimist said...

The inertia of Brockley is incredible. One would not believe it is zone 2 in London. When change is planned it seems often in the wrong direction, something out of a film ‘what went wrong in the ‘70s town planning’.
Some small examples: La Lanterna (the longest restaurant refurbishment ever), the horrific building on Mantle Road that will be followed by other horrific building on St. Norbert Road, the MOT turned into Van Hire, the fights in the streets

Monkeyboy said...

None of those observations are specific to Brockley. You could equally say The Broca, Browns, The Orchard....etc, etc.

Not sure why being in Zone 2 would automatically lead to an area having Chelsea like boutiques springing up.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Much of Zone 1 is in Southwark and parts of that are far grottier than Brockley. Council flats overlooked by tourist spots - lovely.

Mondee said...

@Prssimist, you really are a pessimist! I think I'm naturally quite pessimistic but I wouldn't put forward such a one-sidedly negative image of Brockley. For every example of inertia there are several dynamic acts - The Orchard, Brockley Mess, The talbot and other successful eateries; BXAG planting the muddy hill by the station in their free time; Friends of Hilly Fields successfully campaigning for the new playground; the man who single-handedly campaigned for years for a cricket pitch on Hilly Fields and has now got his way; this blog; open studios; brockley max; I could go on. If you only look for the bad things - and don't get me started on noisy neighbours, dog poo on pavements, Lewisham council's atrocious record on Conservation Area enforcement etc - then that is all you will see.

Ed said...

Where then does humanism fit in?

Paddy - I think beyond a certain level noise is actually illegal, not that we have the resources to enforce many of these lesser crimes, the result being that a generation grows up thinking it is fine to cycle on the pavements, use their mobiles whilst driving and bass people out etc.

The bass only really gets to me when super loud and when I am relaxing in the living room. Grrr.

In NY they have signs up threatening fines if horns etc are sounded in residential areas.

Whilst we won't get the council to do anything I am thinking of doing my own sign for a lamppost outside the tea factory...

I never realised how much we need a Batman. We may have to settle for cctv, which we don't have despite constant complaints about over surveillance and local gun crime. FFS!

Pessimist said...

@Mondee - all comendable things, and chapeau to all those who in the last 10 years have achieved important steps against all odds.

However you have just confirmed my point about the Inertia of Brockley. Everything seems to be left to the initiative of few local saints who take on these tasks partly because of vocational spirit and possibly beacuse of inertia led frustration.

Monkeyboy said...

Is brockley better or worse than the rest of London in that regard? It's always a few individuals who make a difference so not clear what you mean. Brockers managed to plant the station, organize a very credible little festival, street parties... Etc. Not sure what you mean by inertia.

Mondee said...

@ Pessimist, I just don't know how different that would be anywhere else. Of course changes tend to be driven by a few individuals - it would be chaos if everyone tried to have their say (look at this blog for confirmation!) Can you name a part of London where everybody in the community joins in with everything?

Pessimist said...

Well for a start in most of London if one parks on the yellow lines his/her car gets taken to an expensive compound.

I do not recall having seen a single person leaving their dog dirt behing last time I went to Hyde Park.

I do not even think anyone one even think to open a garage without proper authorizations in Regents Mews, because if they do they would get fined and closed very quickly.

The Police force are present and walk the beat. I do not recall seeing drug dealing in Trafalgar Square or Borough Market.

Shall I go on? Perhaps we have been living here too long and we forgot that things can work in a respectful society where everyone does his share.

Monkeyboy said...

So your comparing central London, very touristy parts of central London, to a slightly rough borough. Not really answered the question have you. What about acton, kings cross, parts of brixton, thamesmead, etc......

Brockley Nick said...

"I do not recall seeing drug dealing in Borough Market"

I used to live near Borough Market and I do.

My name is Monkeyboy and I'm a cheesaholic said...

A cheese dealer did get me hooked on high grade parmesan. The first wedge was free, before I knew it I was on 500g a month. That's how they get you kids. I'm ok now, I'm using sainaburys Taste The Difference range and my doctor is thinking of moving me on their standard range by Christmas. It's a journey.......

fellow chaddict said...

I used to regulalry free-base cheddar by the station. Ever tried a speed ball with some cheese and a pickled onion?

Latest Tweets

Brockley Central Label Cloud

Click one of the labels below to see all posts on that subject. The bigger the label, the more posts there are!