Saturday, 18 February 2012

What Eastenders tells us about life in London

Dum, dum, dum-dum, dum-dum. Or something like that.

Life in London can be tough. More so in the tough streets of East London. Luckily many of us will never have to experience this. Should we wish to, we can watch the docu-soap, 'Eastenders'.

Through my university career, and early adulthood, I engaged in an almost daily ritual with my housemates of watching Eastenders. I've since kicked the habit, however it has taught me lasting lessons on what life is like in East London.

Fried Chicken- In most London Boroughs this is the staple diet for youngsters and drunks alike. The greasy carboard boxes litter parks, gardens, and roadsides without prejudice. I have enjoyed 'dirty chicken' myself, taking advantage of such phenomenal offers as '10 wings for £2.50'.

However Walford is the last bastion of the traditional fish 'n' chip shop. In an age when chippies are resorting to offering fried chicken, or closing, Beale's chip shop stands like a colossus providing deep fried spuds to the busy market traders.

The Queen Vic- Pubs in Britain are shutting at an alarming rate. In fact as many as 6 a day are being boarded up. Those that are surviving are those lucky enough to be in a heavy footfall area and have had to convert to pouncy wine bars, or gastro-pubs.

What does Walford say to this trend? Fuck you, that's what. The Queen Vic has remained the same shitty pub it's always been. The decor is wooden, the atmosphere threatening. Drunks are unconvincing and everyone tows the line regarding the no swearing rule.

Not only that but several elements of bar decoration have been used in murders.

Want a feed in the Queen Vic? No dice, bar snacks only. Service is usually poor as some melodrama is being played out by the bar staff.

If you see any type of event advertised, always attend. Karoke, Pub Quiz, or ad hoc event will undoubtedly lead to some confrontation, relevation, or suicide from the roof.

Despite all of this the bar is rammed four nights a week with punters forking over cash despite the national trend of people having less money, going out less, and the price of booze rising.

The Mitchell's- In towns and cities across the land there is one family that you don't fuck with. Where I grew up it was the Cole's. In Walford it's the Mitchell's.

There's the two brothers leading the line. One who lives in Brazil, because, erm, well that's not clear. The other is a sometimes alcoholic, crack head, who turns purple on demand and has a possible penchant for dogging.

They're backed up by an ever changing cast of headcase women all with their own issues, from a complete failure to be believable (Sharon), to a mother who is so diminutive that the genetics are mind boggling.

Throw in a weasely cousin (Billy) and a gay son and the picture is complete. Frightening isn't it.

The Canal- Looking for a dead body? Forget the morgue, in Walford they keep their dead safely tethered in the canal. You might also find a tramp, and moody electrical goods.

The Tube- Walford East tube station exists on the District and Hammersmith & City lines. Perhaps for this reason it is rarely used. Luckily as the residents of Walford exist in a mini-economy they have no need to commute like other Londoners.

Those that do maintain a job outside of Walford are quickly exposed as liars and eventually find themselves flogging burned CD's in the market.

Buses- Avoid buses in Walford. They are a portent of doom. Should one be seen the following is likely to happen-

It will crash.
It will hit someone.
Someone will collapse in front of it.
Someone will collapse on it.

Cosmopolitan London- London has a diverse and eclectic population. It is this diversity that makes London the city it is. It influences our culture and music. One can see the Jamaican routes of the 'patois' that middle class kids in Kent and Essex spout on a daily basis.

The demographics of East London (as per Wikipedia) read as follows-

White- 69%
Mixed- 3.5%
South Asian- 13.3%
Black- 10.6%
East Asian, or Other- 3.5%

In Walford they read-

White- 96%
Mixed- 1% (sometimes)
South Asian- 0%
Black- 1% (sometimes)
East Asian, or other- 2% (sometimes)

Night Life- Every one likes to unwind, and sometimes the moody local won't cut it. You need an after hours party.

In Walford there is only one choice, literally. It's gone under many names but I remember it fondly as E20.

E20 is quite probably the smallest night club in London, and I've been to the Cactus Pit. In fact the back office is arguably bigger than the bar.

Still if you want to wet your whistle it's insane lunch time opening means you can be trolleyed by the time someone reveals they're someone else's mother.

Careers- London is a prosperous city. This is more than apparent in Walford. Everyone has a job, and everyone works cushy hours.

The wages can't be bad either as everyone seems to have enough disposable income to piss it away in the Queen Vic.

What are these astounding careers, I hear you ask? Cast your eyes-

Mini-cab operative
Black cab operative
Old whore
Market Trader
Fish 'n' Chip server
Fish 'n' Chip fryer
Night club owner
Cafe staff
Street sweeper
Corner shop staff
Young scoundrel
Petty criminal
HIV sufferer
Smack head
Low rent gang boss

Leaving- Thinking of leaving after your visit? Well there are several ways out of Walford. Some may seem extreme but you'll be so enamoured with Walford that you'll jump at the chance to take them.

Emmigration: Generally speaking you'll want to head to Spain, Brazil, or France. It's best to have either committed unthinkable crimes, or burnt all your bridges beforehand.

Death: You'd be surprised how many people take this method. Whether you decide to top yourself, die in a fumble arson attempt, or become the victim of murder due to your engagement in a tangled love triangle, it's a sure fire way to go.

Fake death: Another popular one. This enables you to return after spending years in foreign climbs. Not only will all your previous crimes be exonerated you'll be welcomed back with gainful employment.

The writer of this blog is taking part in a ludicrously long charity walk for Asthma UK. If you're feeling generous you can kindly sponsor him here.

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