Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Irish Rover - Part 1


Tooting Broadway, London

I graduated college in late eighties Ireland and what awaited me was, well......... nothing! - No job opportunities, no prospects - nada! This was long pre Celtic Tiger and the dole was looming but London was just a hop skip and a jump away, so off I went like the multitudes of others to seek my fortune or at least pay may way.

I knew some college peeps in Tooting Broadway in south London, but their house was full, so I rented a bedsit (one room) nearby in Big Mama's house. She was from Jamaica and although a bit strict, she was fun for a seventy year old. Tooting was a very ethnic community at the time (still is by all accounts) and if you were Irish, you were assumed to be working in construction or terrorism.

I over heard her speaking to her daughter on the phone who warned her Irish people were drunks, smelly and trouble (a stereotype that in fairness wasn't completely undeserved at the time). At least she didn't mention the IRA!

I hated London back then. I had a shit job as an accounts clerk/dogsbody/ tea maker, in a shit construction company, in a city that was not very fond of the Irish (mostly due to the IRA troubles back then). I found out that I replaced a woman who was fired because her and the boss (my new boss) were found 'doing the nasty' on his desk and were caught in the act by the CEO. The bloke that interviewed me did a runner a few weeks later after embezzling a small fortune.

A slot opened up in the college peeps house, so I moved in there and bid 'Big Mama' farewell. It was an hour on the Northern Line tube (subway) to and from work which was like being squashed into a sardine tin which stopped for no apparent reason. Suicide (people throwing themselves in front of the train) turned out to be a common delay factor.

My salary barely covered my rent and expenses, but I was now an independent individual, free from the shackles of eighties Ireland, but not a happy camper in any way shape or form. My cooking skills were non existent but it was a case of learn to cook or starve, so I coped as best I could. Beans and toast was the staple diet!

Many a weekend was spent in the Swan in Stockwell or Biddy Mulligans Pub and followed by the National Ballroom in Kilburn. They were rough and raw spots where fights broke out regularly. Batter burger n' chips was our idea of eating out back then.

.....to be continued!

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19 comments:

Baino August 28, 2008 12:15 am  

Oooh the adventure begins. You know I travel vicariously through others so looking forward to future installments! 'Tooting' hahaha! (I'm such a child!)

Megan August 28, 2008 2:51 am  

I have never understood the beans on toast phenomenon. I suppose I should try it and see.

The mind is willing, but the palate is weak!

Thriftcriminal August 28, 2008 5:03 am  

Ah, the northern line. I used to stay with my mother during the summers sometimes, she lived on Chalk Farm Rd. and used to sell 2nd hand clothes from the states at the markets in Camden and Hammersmith.

roy August 28, 2008 11:20 am  

dya think you'll ever come back?

VE August 28, 2008 11:40 am  

Ever gone back there? I've been to London twice. I don't mind it there if I don't have live there.

Xbox4NappyRash August 28, 2008 2:13 pm  

Jaysus are you that auld?

Nick August 28, 2008 3:02 pm  

Ah, the joys of bed-sit living, I remember them well. I lived in one room in a damp-ridden house for many years until things started looking up. I mostly ate instant packaged meals, sandwiches and loads of fruit. I never cooked, mainly because I would have stunk the place out.

Quickroute August 28, 2008 10:15 pm  

@ Baino: - Never ending story this one!

@ Megan: Beans Beans good for the heart!

@ Thrifty: I was gutted to hear camden burnt down last year

@ Roy: I doubt it with property prices and taxes they way they are

@ xbox: I'm not auld - I'm just seasoned

@ VE: Yes - I went back for 2 years recently - It's better but not much!

@ Nick: I remember those days too - quick and simple was the way to go!

iWalk August 29, 2008 12:08 pm  

Remind me the days when I just graduated from my college...waiting for your next part!

Shaunj August 29, 2008 12:54 pm  

interesting stuff!
Are "spice burgers" a purely Irish thing or did they have them in England back also?
And what's in them?????!

Lover of Nature August 29, 2008 4:57 pm  

It seems everyone I've come across and has lived in London for some reason doesn't like it. I dated a Brittish guy while in China and even he said London was depressing.

Lover of Nature August 29, 2008 4:57 pm  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quickroute August 30, 2008 9:22 am  

@iWalk: Thanks - coming soon!

@Shaunj: English and Irish and they look disgusting - never had one but I imagine they made from the cast off of the cast offs

@LoN: It's gotten better over time but has a long way to go

Megan August 30, 2008 2:11 pm  

Beans, beans, great for the heart!

Quickroute September 02, 2008 5:10 pm  

@ Megan: The more you eat the more you .....

queenie September 03, 2008 6:37 am  

Ohhh Kilburn, exotic. Spent many happy hours throwing my toys from my Nans balcony of her flat in Kensal Rise and watching my Dad going all the way down to get them!

Quickroute September 03, 2008 5:36 pm  

@ Queenie: I ended up living in Kilburn but those details will have to wait for another day!

K8 the Gr8 September 13, 2008 9:04 pm  

Suicide (people throwing themselves in front of the train) turned out to be a common delay factor.

?!?!?!?!

That's horrific!

Were supernoodles around back then?

Quickroute September 13, 2008 11:02 pm  

@K8: I read that the Northern line in particular gets more suicide attempts due to the colour (black) which has a morbid attraction for the would be poor souls about to end it all - but yes it happens very frequently and is now just addressed as "an incident" or "person under the train"

Yes there were supernoodles but I wasn't a big fan at the time. I've developed a taste for them since though. I lived on 'boil in the bag' fare back then

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