Bethnal Green Memories

In London yesterday for a couple of things, including the RAS Discussion Meeting in the afternoon, but on my way to that I thought I’d wander through the part of London where I lived many years ago, so got off the tube at Bethnal Green and went for a short walk.

Bethnal Green doesn’t seem to have changed very much and the street I used to live in looks very much the same as it did in the 90s. I couldn’t resist taking a quick snap of the front door that leads to my old flat as I walked past. I wonder who lives there now?

So much has happened since then it’s hard to believe I lived here for the best part of 9 years! I feel a complete stranger in London nowadays. The past is a foreign country.

Visiting places you used to live isn’t really a good idea. It’s likely to make you feel a bit strange. There are always ghosts hidden among the memories. Perhaps that’s why I keep having dreams that feature former residences. Only in the dreams those places are never quite the same as they actually were.

I remember having a weekend break in Newcastle with an old friend just after my Father died in 2007. At one point we walked past my old school and went in the grounds to have a look. That experience affected me rather a lot and I still don’t know why. The past is the past and it’s not comfortable when it intrudes on the present.

Yesterday, as I carried on walking towards Whitechapel, I suddenly remembered that when I moved in to that flat my Mam gave my a microwave oven. Thirty years on, I still have it and it still works well. It’s in the house in Cardiff. I suppose I’ll have to throw it away at some point. But not yet.

When I lived in Bethnal Green if I wanted to go into Town I would take the tube from either Bethnal Green on Whitechapel, depending on where exactly I wanted to go. This time I found that Whitechapel tube station was closed for refurbishment, so I had to walk on to Aldgate East.

3 Responses to “Bethnal Green Memories”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    So the house you had in Cardiff flooded in 1979, long before you bought it?

    • telescoper Says:

      I presume so. I think the whole area was flooded. I’ve seen pictures of people in boats going down Cowbridge Road, and Sophia Gardens was completely flooded, as was part of Cathedral Road. Pontcanna is to the North of, and slightly higher than, these areas, which may just have saved it from the worst, but I doubt it escaped unscathed.

  2. “The past is the past and it’s not comfortable when it intrudes on the present.”

    Obviously, one wants to avoid bad memories, but in general I like a connection to the past. Such connections were wonderfully explored by Bergman in Wild Strawberries (a good example of a title lost in translation), but also by Joyce in “The Dead”, perhaps the finest example of English literature (written by an Irishman who spent most of his life on the Continent and made his living by teaching languages and various other odd jobs rather than mainly from writing).

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