I have always tended to nostalgia, it’s just something I do. Usually I think about people and the times in my life I knew them and the memories that are triggered accordingly. Recently tho’ brought on over the last few days owing to a long chat to my Dad and an email from Germany I have been thinking about places, ones that have some meaning for me that are now no longer there, at least not in the incarnation that they were when they were of significance to me. I decided to write them down in a last effort to preserve them for my own memory.

regentmilkbarext1.jpg
Firstly the Regent Milk Bar on the Edgware Road in Paddington, it was a place more part of my Dad’s past than my own but somewhere he did take me when we walked around Paddington after his Mother (my Grandmother, obviously!) died. We visited some of his old haunts and areas he knew and one of the places we went was the Regent. It was a step back into the 1950s which meant that it gave me a tangible connection to my Dad’s past as well. The place had always been run by Italians, just like a good ice cream parlour should be and the ice cream was thick and home made and slopped onto the cornet with a wide spatular. I think we went there a couple of times. It is now sadly deceased. (My Dad tells me it is at least immortalised by virtue of being the place that Gwyneth Paltrow gets her morning coffee from in Sliding Doors, amusingly enough that same film features a pub down by the Thames in Hammersmith called the Blue Anchor which is on the other side of the river to my school and in which I was a frequent visitor during my schooldays, it is in fact the pub in which I had been drinking after my last A level exam when I returned to school in the evening to find the housemaster waiting for me at which point I was expelled from the boarding house!) The Regent’s existence and lamented demise reminded me of a place that had that sort of link in my past the Ice Dream Parlour from what I recall had a similar style in 1950s decor, I don’t know if it was run by Italians, all I remember was that to a young boy on the King’s Road in the 1970s there was nowhere else you’d rather stop at. It was the height of the parental treat to go in there for a sundae one afternoon, glass bowls, banana splits, knickerbocker glory, I guess many people in the US may still have these sorts of things to look back on but here there weren’t that common to begin with and they are practically extinct now.

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In Berlin there is an area called Prenzlauer Berg, it is in the old East side and is full of imposing grey stone buildings that give an aura of now forgotten grandeur. I have always liked it there it is one of my favourite parts of Berlin and at the time when I was around there it wasn’t quite as trendy as it is now. Prenzl Berg was the area in the East where the Bohemians lived, the cafe society area but it had a more literary feel than Kreuzberg or Neukoelln which were similar type places on the Western side. There was a place on Kollwitzplatz called the Cafe Westphal, an outside that resembled a Czech milk bar I used to go to in the centre of Prague. I discovered the Westphal originally with my Ex who was living in Berlin briefly at the time when I was living in Rostock. The Westphal was a spacious cafe with engulfing sofas, a pleasant but quiet atmosphere and newspapers all over the place. The first time I was there I think I spent the whole day there! I went back some months later when in Berlin again with a group of friends and I took them there, we spent practically the whole day there as well including 2 of us nodding off entirely much to the mirth of the group who were sadly armed with cameras! I hasten to add this was because it was a day called ‘Herrntag’ (Men’s Day) and we’d been on the piss since 8am! The tea at the Westphal was good, the cafe warm and comfortable and importantly the prices low, I guess with its central location it was doomed. I hear the owner of the building put the rent up and that was that. It is now a trendy Italian restaurant, something for all the tourists but with none of the character of the original area. That makes me think that Prenzl Berg has probably already gone the way of Chelsea and Camden in London or Schwabing in Munich and other areas that were much more interesting before the commercial explosion.

Speaking of the commercial explosion I confess I was naive enough to think that one place that might be spared it was Lewisham, a place I spent many years around during my student days and for a few years thereafter. In around 1994 a pub opened on the High St. called the Quaggy Duck. This is before the vast array of Wetherspoons had fully taken over. The pub was generally not too busy, the beer was good and the interior varnished wood. I liked it immediately. I was back in Lewisham in September during the ESF looking for something to eat and I thought I’d like to pop into the Duck for a pint only to find that it is now the Marlow’s Wine Bar and upon further research it appears to have had another incarnation in between. I didn’t have the heart to go up Lee High Rd. to see if the Noodle Bar and the Coffee Shack and Howard’s Record Shop were still there. Maybe they were which would have given me a little solace but if not it would have been another area that had completely shaken off the parts of it that I knew. The 3 places I mention were not glossy commercial places although the Noodle bar and the Coffee Shak were perhaps symptomatic even then that Lewisham was undergoing a change from the previous days of transport caffs and Pie n Mash shops. I think the Marlows Wine Bar tells me more about modern Lewisham than I really wished to know. Sadly I couldn’t find any pictures of the Duck and so it’s memory remains only in my head and that of a select handful of others who may have passed thru’ it in it’s short history.

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One thing that did amuse me tho’ as I drove back from my Dad’s was seeing a sign for Radio Jackie which used to be a pirate radio station I listened to in the late 70s to early 80s. It used to have its studios in the high st. of the place my Dad lived. “227 Radio Jackie, The Sound of South West London” went the jingle -ah that takes me back. The car stickers were everywhere including on my bedroom window. There was a big campaign to try to get it granted a license but I remember it was raided and closed down. I then started listening to all sorts of Radio stations after that mainly things like Radio Berlin Internation from East Berlin and Radio Moscow World Service and Radio Tirana which was suprisingly easy to pickup, I never understood why. Anyway I digress into nostalgia again, Radio Jackie is now back and legit and still using “The Sound of South West London” as its catchline and the same red RJ symbol . I listened to it on the way home and thought I was 12 again! If you’re interested at all, altho’ why should you be, Radio Jackie has a website here

Part 2

Song Of The Day – The Ramones ~ My Sharona

Original Comments:


Song Of The Day – The Ramones ~ My Sharona

posted Monday, 29 November 2004

links: digg this del.icio.us technorati

Your pearls of wisdom are always welcome (8)

Katie made this comment,
Who’s suzy?
Visit me @ http://screamtoasigh.blog.city.com

comment added :: 29th November 2004, 18:28 GMT+01
libragirl made this comment,
I love the Ramones. Thanks for reminding me I need to download the CD to put in my I-pod. I am so obsessed about my I-pod & I haven’t even gotten it yet.
Great blog.
Are you really in Russia?

comment added :: 30th November 2004, 01:54 GMT+01
Pimme made this comment,
We don’t just have vintage ice cream parlors, we also have new ones designed to look old, complete with all the fixtures and decor.
Visit me @ http://pimme.blog-city.com

comment added :: 30th November 2004, 03:18 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
I have loads of pictures of people. I just wish I had more photos of places.
John

[Redbaron responds – Ah the luxury you have John, sadly I have neither. It’s easy sometimes when you see loads of photos and especially video footage from the 60s and 70s to forget that in those days virtually no-one had a video camera and many did not have a camera. We take all these things for granted now and I try to take pictures of everything to ensure that nothing is lost forever should I ever need a memory.]

comment added :: 30th November 2004, 16:38 GMT+01
Rachel made this comment,
I just got a new camera, and I realized that I have very few pictures of anything that means anything to me, so now I’m bringing it everywhere.
Visit me @ http://palmysinfullbloom.blog-city.com

[Redbaron responds – S’a good plan Rach, it’s why it was important to me to have a digital one, I have a 35mm camera for landscapes and planned shots but with a digital camera I can take stacks of pictures without worrying about cost or running out of film and if any don’t come out I can delete them.]

comment added :: 30th November 2004, 17:31 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
Very interesting flashback into your yoof, Red. Makes me think it would be nice to do a series of nostalgia trips (verbal & visual) into places-one-has loved-and-lost.
Natalie

comment added :: 30th November 2004, 21:15 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
Thanks for the flashback… very interesting to hear of one’s memories 🙂
FallenAngel [fallenangelsj@hotmail.com]

comment added :: 1st December 2004, 18:35 GMT+01

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