About Me

"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Peter bows out: a bit of Clapham High Street that should forever be Greece has gone. Almost...

Peter the Greek's final, final closing down sale last week: another bit of old, untidy Clapham is about to disappear
to meet the tidy, buttoned up and thoroughly steel-gated demands of London's property vultures.
2015 will be remembered for plenty of bad reasons. For some of us, amongst much else, it will probably go down as the year in which two of the pillars of Clapham's small but tenacious Greek Cypriot community finally chucked it all in, and called it a day.

If you've been listening to ace SW8 podcaster Daniel Ruiz Tizon's marvellous interviews with Andy, the Greek Cypriot barber of Landor Road, (Part 1 here and Part 2 here)  (and if not why not?) you will know that he is now really on the verge of retirement, after half a century of expertly wielding the clippers and the cut-throat razor to the astonishing parade of characters who have navigated this important furrow between SWs 2, 9 and eventually 4.

So, if you believe him, Andy will be back on the isle of his birth, tending his vines and the olive trees, in January 2016. Meanwhile, it seems that Peter,  the Greek second-hand-goods dealer of Clapham High Street, has also finally had to shut up shop. His lock-up on Prescott Place will soon disappear and be turned into yet more expensive residential property.

His final day was officially  Monday 23 November - as the often repainted "Closing down sale" banner made clear. But by the end of that day the bailiffs had not turned up, so Peter kept on trading a little longer….and then, a few more days…but one day soon, he will be gone.

The vine begins in the soil of a tiny garden
outside  St Peter's Catholic Church...
You wander down Prescott Street today and the shop is shut-up. But even when the single storey lock-up is demolished, there's going to be a durable reminder of his two or three decade presence here. It's a grape-vine, which was planted back in about 2009 in the tiny bit of garden by the side of the catholic church, which by happy coincidence is dedicated to St Peter.

Amazingly the vine has thrived, twisted itself round the corner, and started out on a long journey towards the joys of Clapham High Street. If you look at it even now there are clusters of this autumn's black grapes still hanging down.

According to Peter, once it was established the vine needed very little maintenance, "Just a little cutting back in the spring".

Will he be there to do it next spring? "Who knows."

It has now advanced about two-thirds of the way along the wall of the Two Brewers bar and nightclub on its way to the main road. Peter's hoping he'll live to see it make  the full distance. He;s got another growing along the alley-way behind his flat. It seems vines like Clapham soil, and like Andy, Peter clearly knows how to cultivate.

Unlike Andy, Peter's not planning to return to his birthplace. He likes Clapham and wants to stay here. It seems though he still has further battles, to do with where he's living, to get through.

And it continues along the wall of the Two Brewers, one of Clapham's most
famous gay bars, on its way to the wide-open spaces of the High Street
But, as for the shop, from what he told me, he did not intend to oppose the closure, as he's ready to give it all up. The shop had been quite busy recently, and whenever I visited there were plenty of people trawling through the boxes of books, records, glass, china, and the rails of clothing.

For Peter himself, maybe not such a bad outcome - but for this curious bit of Clapham, which had hung onto its 1980s feel far longer than you'd expect in an area now swamped by a second or even third generations of blond and blazered and chubby-cheeked ex public schoolboys and their well-groomed gals - it's a serious loss. One more of a very small and fast dwindling number of independent, totally  ungentrifiable business ventures, makes its exit, stage left.

No comments:

Post a Comment