Bethnal Green Road

Years ago, I went to a talk by Anthony Burton, the then Director of the Bethnal Green Museum, about the Bethnal Green Road.   He treated it as a foreign country.   Since I have been forced to think carefully about the cultural consequences of a vote for Brexit (I’m on a podium about it on Wednesday), I thought I would take a walk down it to see how the Bethnal Green Road has changed.

I had my first cappuccino in Jonestown, a neo-1950s, new wave coffee bar:-




Then I went to Pellicci’s, established in 1900 and now listed, the queen of east end cafés, which must now be in every tourist guide because it was packed with cultural tourists as well as a few old East Enders tucking into full English as I did (it’s a long time since I’ve had proper fried bread):-





My third stop, which was the raison d’etre for the trip, was Padron, the new Spanish delicatessen which advertises productos de España:-



My impression is that if the Bethnal Green Road is representative of anything – I’m not sure it is – then it is evidence of the strange, mixed, polyglot culture that England has become.   How much of this will disappear if we vote for Brexit ?  Of course, it’s impossible to tell, but some of the easiness of interchange is surely bound to go.


5 thoughts on “Bethnal Green Road

  1. Edward Chaney says:

    you left out a pic of the new mosque in braintree street…? which podium are you on? would you like an ancien regimer (and representative of the people) to be there? xe

  2. pbmum says:

    Calasparra rice on the Bethnal Green Road! I used to buy that in Valvona and Crolla to make paella when we lived in Edinburgh.

    My nan and grandad lived off Bethnal Green Road in Hollybush Gardens. When my grandad was on his deathbed in 1992, aged 100, he used to send me down Bethnal Green Road to get him saveloy and chips, always with the instruction to wait to be served by a particular woman (whose defining feature was that she had one eye) who gave extra large portions.

    Whenever I see the photo of you peering at your phone I think of my grandad. Not because of any physical resemblance (he was a small wiry man covered in naval tattoos!) but because somewhere I have a photo of him sent from his travels proudly posing on the phone. Must have been a way to display just how modern he was!

    I’d hate to see us leave the EU, not least because my children’s school experience has been greatly enhanced by their learning how to swear in a number of Eastern European languages. If we do leave I shall offer them the chance of applying for Irish passports – we have an entitlement because my dad was Irish. Freedom of movement for young people is a difficult thing to give up.


  3. pbmum says:

    Not G.F. Kelly, I’m afraid. Have to say that people’s breakfast choices are never a surprise to me. I have teenage sons (both over six foot tall and with hollow legs) and so have continuing evidence that time of day is no barrier to any food choices.


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