08 Jun

Fings ain’t wot they used to be

This morning the BBC reported more police raids on houses in the East End of London as “part of their on-going investigation into the terrorist attack on London Bridge.”

It’s ages since I paid a visit to the East End, so I thought I’d pop along and see how the land lies these days.

The place has changed beyond recognition and presents a bewildering spectacle to those of us who knew what it was like in the old days. I thought the best place to start would be down by The Old Bull & Bush but, whether it’s just me getting disorientated for space and time at my age or what, I couldn’t find it. I called in Saleem’s minimarket…

“Nah,” said Saleem “The Old Bull ain’t there any more,guv. Most of the old boozers in these parts ‘as been shut down and turned into madrassas in’t they? For the learning ov the kids innit? My boy’s up to Taleemul Haq  in Class 8”

“So much seems to have changed?”

“Everythink, mate. Even the old songs. Nah the kids sings Let’s all go down The Strand – blow up the Kuffars. But If yer wants ter find art wot’s going on, like, get y’self a copy of the Docklands & East London Gazette.  Y’can read Urdu in’t yer?”

“East End traditional foods?”

“Ah, the nosh. Well, it’s the same mate innit – but different. We ‘as that jellied halal goat wiv coconut nah.”

“I see. But I suppose the really traditional things haven’t changed, and a Cockney is still someone born within the sound of Bow Bells?”

“Wot planet is you on mister? Fings ‘ave changed. Nah you’ve got ter be born wivvin earshot ov the call to prayer from 46 Whitechapel Road.”

“What’s that when it’s out?”

“East London Mosque mate. Wassermatter – in’t you religious?”

Perhaps I shouldn’t have said what i said next, but I was in shock: “And I suppose that’s where the Islamic State supporters buy their suicide vests!”

He gave be a long indulgent stare: “Nah, fing’s ain’t wot they used ter be. The boys dunt need no suicide vests, guv, There’s a geezer in the Mile End Road – know wot I mean? – wot hires out white vans. Get y’self wunna these, and ask yer old lady if she’ll lend you a few kitchen knives – and Allah’s yer uncle and Mohammed’s yer ant!”

“Some things don’t change. I see you’ve still got your taxi business.”

“Couldn’t manage wivvart it, mate. I ‘ad that Osama bin Laden in the back of my cab wunce.”

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