Get up, stand up……

…..and more importantly, stand up for what you believe in.

This post has been prompted by a whole host of different conversations (on Twitter and in the flesh) over the past few days that include people telling me that Gordon Brown “hates people” and me being called a fool for declaring my intention to vote Labour tomorrow.  And quite frankly, I’m sick of it.  Sick of being told that standing up for what I believe in is foolish, sick of people regurgitating half-truths from the media, and sick of those same people not having the decency to argue their corner in a reasonable fashion when challenged.  I started this election campaign as someone who had re-joined Labour (after a 15 year battle with myself about why I left in the first place) and who wanted to make sure his local MP kept his seat.  I’ve been out delivering leaflets and said some nice words about Sadiq Khan, which led to the slightly strange situation of me delivering leaflets with my own mug on them, and as time has gone on I’ve been drawn more and more into what this election is all about.  I can’t claim to have had any sort of epiphany on the streets of Tooting, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with my internal debate about what my support of Labour really means.  It means that rather than stand on the outside whingeing about how shit everything is (I can’t quite bring myself to even mention the whole Broken Britain thing), I’m now more than prepared to stand up and be counted.  Stand up for my local MP against a Tory candidate that seems to be straight out of the Cameron School of PR Robots.  Stand up against people who ask me to name “one good thing Labour have done”, and then scuttle back under their rock when I mention minimum wage, reduction in waiting lists and investment in schools.  Stand up for my local, wonderful community in Tooting.  What struck me more than anything else when I had my close encounter with Gordon Brown on Sunday, was what a diverse group of people where there to see him.  Not all hand-picked Labour members, but members of all parts of the community, of all faiths.  That’s what a Labour MP, and Sadiq Khan in particular, will do – bring people together.  All I’ve ever seen Tories do is divide people, rich & poor, union & business, and I don’t want this country to slide back towards those attitudes.

Does this mean I think Labour are perfect?  Of course it doesn’t, they’ve made mistakes, and some of them have been bad mistakes.  But when I look at most of the big issues that people complain about Labour, I can’t help asking myself, what would Dave have done?  Iraq?  Credit crisis?  Both would have had the same outcome under Dave, he certainly wasn’t against the war was he?  And while Labour certainly got too close to the banks for my liking, you can’t tell me that at the same time Dave wouldn’t have been equally cosy with them?  No government I remember has “saved for a rainy day” and Dave and the Tories wouldn’t have either.  Pretty much everything they’ve said about the economic crisis has been with the benefit of hindsight.  And as for all the scaremongering about having to go cap in hand to the IMF if their’s a hung parliament?  Well sorry, but that just sounds desperate “you must vote for us because…….” because what, because you think we should?  And that’s pretty much where we’ve got to isn’t it?  The Tories seem to believe that their time has come again and that they “deserve” to get back in.  Well they don’t “deserve” anything.  If the central part of your campaign is “look at them, aren’t they crap” and “look at Britain, isn’t it shit?”, then it seems to me that you don’t deserve anything.  And despite the alleged pile of cack that is apparently covering this country, they seem to failing to really convince the public that they are a viable alternative.  That’s because you have to earn the right to govern, not have it fall into your lap.  Surely, with the all new cuddly Conservatives, and an open goal in front of them, this election should be in no doubt at all?  Perhaps showing a bit of passion, as Gordon Brown certainly did on Monday, would help us all, I certainly haven’t heard any passion come from the Conservatives.  It’s all been a bit wooden really, almost a little bit too well rehearsed perhaps?  But the election result is still in doubt, and I for one will be doing my bit tomorrow to make sure Britain & my patch of South London stays a fair and tolerant place.  What are you going to do? Shrug your shoulders and whinge?  Well shame on you then.

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things what you can see near my house

As a gentle reintroduction back into the blogging world, I thought I’d have a gentle stroll around where I live.  With new camera in hand, the camera that is hopefully going to inspire we to share lots more stuff with you all, I didn’t venture further than about half a mile from my house. And this is what I found: signs that the long mooted gas mains work is finally happening further up my road and that they have surveyed outside my house ready to do us.  I just hope this Ben character is good at his job.

P1000031

In the gallery that hopefully follows the rest of this text, you’ll be able to imagine you live near me.  Now how exciting must that be for you all.  You can turn left out of my front door & see the road works that are slowly working their way down the hill and my house, turn left by the post box and you’ll see the evidence of someone elses excesses from last night.  I keep my excesses private and my rubbish in a bin.  Rock ‘n’ roll.  If you go down the right little footpath on the other side of Rectory Lane you can find hidden away the old clock tower and some random columns, all that is left from St Benedict’s Hospital for the Chronically Ill which closed in 1981.  Emerge from the private estate that now bears the name of the old hospital onto Church Lane and you can find the scout hut which also doubles as the Sharona Stage School every Tuesday night. (insert own The Knack joke here)  Further down the road and you have Mitre Electrics who prize their alternators so highly that they keep the best ones on view for you in a glass cabinet.  Almost next door is Paws, the best charity shop in Tooting but strangely situated in a slightly obscure side road.  Then as I make my way home along the main road you have the usual mixture of shops which include Rick’s Cafe the best only proper restaurant in Tooting.  And to get back to my house you have to avoid the lure of Tooting Progressive Club (something my Great Uncle failed to do for about 30 years) before finally climbing back up the hill to home.

So there you have it for now.  With new camera being kept in the cab, I’m hoping to capture a lot of my city to share with you soon, I already have one half written post that will emerge blinking into the light in the next couple of days.  I won’t pretend you’ve missed me too much, but I’ve certainly missed the regular exercise my brain was gettting, so it’s good to be back…..

places in wot I ‘ave aboded in that there London….

…..or how I’m desperate to prove that I’m a proper Londoner.  Partly prompted by a “conversation” with Mrs Cabbie over who was the mostest London out of the two of us, which of course I won, I decided to map out where I have lived in our great metropolis.  I will need to revisit that “conversation” with Mrs Cabbie properly at some point, as it brought up some interesting questions about what counts as “proper”.  Is it being born and/or raised in a London postcode?  And do the all parts of the London Boroughs count?  Because you can be in a London Borough, but not have a “London” postcode, just look at parts of Brent, Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge, Richmond and pretty much all of Bexley and Bromley. (and despite not really being London, they are the ones I blame for having Boris the Buffoon as Mayor)  I feel a long post about this subject brewing and I haven’t even mentioned the weighting that should be given over where you were born over where you have lived.  This could get messy.

But back to the main subject for today; places where I have lived in London.  And it seems I’ve covered a fair bit of south London, doing that young persons thing of moving from shared houses to first flat with girlfriend, to finally settling down in SW17.  If you can be bothered to click on the “View larger map” link at the bottom of the map, you’ll get a better view of my pan-London living and be able to see the list of places I’ve lived, to which I may add some photos and words at some point.  Starting in Pimlico, where I was born in Johnson House in 1968, we then went to Beckenham and lived next door to David Bowie before my sojourn in Surrey began, before finally heading back into town from the early 90s onwards.  I’m not going to talk in any more detail now, as I plan to revisit the more exciting places I’ve lived (have I mentioned that I lived next door to David Bowie??) over the coming weeks/months/years.  But for now, I’ll leave you all with (another) may to peruse and, possibly, enjoy.

lamppostgate

lamppostBlogging, it seems, can be a perilous business.  Open your heart to the great wide world of t’interweb, and some bugger goes and tells you that you’ve  made a complete dog’s dinner of your facts.  This time, however, my post on Cheyne Walk didn’t even make it as far as being published before Mrs Cabbie had “a word” in my shell like.  “Most ornate lamppost in London eh?  I’ll be the judge of that” she said (or words to that effect).  And went on to point out that not only should I know of an equally ornate lamppost, it is virtually on our doorstop.  So feeling slightly chastined and more than a little foolish, I used my personal parking space (the beautifully positioned 2 cab rank) outside Tooting Broadway tube to put things right.  And here are the results of that trip down the road.  And doesn’t it look good?  I won’t say better than the Chelsea Embankment memorial lamppost (I need to save a little face here) but certainly it’s equal.  So, with apologies to Mrs Cabbie and the whole of Tooting, here are a couple more photos for your enjoyment.

lamppost-close-upparking

no they don’t……

clam down, calm down...

clam down, calm down...

….yes they do, no they don’t, yes they do, NO THEY DON’T!!  It seems from this sign, that a battle between the two premier leg powered forms of transport is about to erupt in SW17.  Despite Wandsworths best efforts to keep these uneasy bedfellows apart through clear signage and demarcation of the paths across the common, someone, clearly, is still very upset about cyclists who are either not riding slowly or giving way to pedestrians.  Or, quelle horreur, both.  Let’s hope that 2009 doesn’t  become known as the year of the Great Cycle/Pedestrian War of Tooting.  Wasn’t it just easier when there was one path that people shared, and then did their best not to run each other over?  As those crazy petrol-heads would say, everyone is probably too busy looking at all the signs to concentrate on their walking and/or cycling.  St George’s A&E is full to the brim with the casualties.

the calm before the storm

the calm before the storm

I’m from tooting

my street - with the mighty Crown House in the distance

my street - with the mighty Crown House in the distance

Actually, I’m not.  From Tooting that is.  But it’s where I’ve lived for the past 10 years and hope to carry on living for many years to come.  Like many a Londoner, I have a slightly mongrel accommodation history.  Born near Victoria coach station, brought up mainly in Lower Morden, now resident in Tooting.  And in  between an assortment of sarf London addresses that include (but are not limited to) Battersea, Camberwell, Wimbledon Chase and Wandsworth Road. But fate, and cheaper house prices, brought me & Mrs Cabbie to Tooting, somewhere that I have since found out holds a few Cudlip connections.

My great Uncle Fred lived here for well over 50 years after his medical discharge from the war.  It’s possible (but not confirmed) that he was born in Tooting as well, it certainly seems that his dad lived here at some point.  Fred was a typically (for his generation) enigmatic figure who always seemed to pop up at family get togethers but generally kept himself to himself.  When he died a couple of years ago, I found out all about his war record, something (of course) he never spoke about.  I can’t remember which unit he was originally in but he ended up in the paras after an incident with a stolen tank.  Apparently, after a few jars, he’d persuaded his sergeant to have a bit of a spin in a tank that, strictly speaking, wasn’t theirs to play with.  He’d then been given the choice of a bit of choky time or transfer to the paras.  He chose the latter.  He’d only been in the paras for about 3 weeks when he parachuted into Arnhem, got cut off from his mates and then literally, walked into a landmine.  Left for dead, he was rescued by the Germans and eventually ended up in the Western Eye Hospital (leave on the L, L Seymour Place, for all you cabbies).  It was from there that he moved to Tooting, after being encouraged to discharge himself due to his continual trips to local boozers with fellow patients.  I’m not saying that Fred liked a drink, but the only times I saw him in Tooting he was always on his way IN to the Tooting Progressive Working Men’s Club, never on the way out.  I hope he’s found a decent watering hole now.

Grandma Cabbie also lived in Tooting for a while, although the exact details seem a little hazy.  It’s one of those bits of family history that parents like to drop into the conversation in a casual manner every now and then.

Just a quick word about the title of this piece before I go.  I happened to be at home watching daytime TV some years ago (must have been very ill) and got drawn into watching some sort of debate about multiculturalism.  I don’t remember the show, or who was host, but I do remember one Rastafarian guy.  Questioned, in the style of Paxman v Dizzee Rascal, about his heritage and roots his reply was simple and somehow perfect,  “I’m from Tooting!”.  To him, and we can all learn a lesson here I think, nothing else mattered.  Not where he originally came from, or where his parents came from, but where he is right now.  Wise words indeed, and all in all, I’m delighted to say I’m from Tooting too.