Once, long ago, I was walking north along the southern end of Lower Clapton Road when a man stepped from a shop and said to me: "Come inside and smell the leather." He wore a leather cowboy hat and leather boots. I know what (some of) you are thinking. You are wrong. "Come on in," he persisted. "Come in and smell that leather." I could, in fact, already smell it. Peering into the shop, I saw the bags, boots, coats and shoes that were emitting it.
Just as Lower Clapton Road was never as crime-ridden as its old reputation suggested, neither is today's Clapton as a whole all posh coffee and bicycle boys with beards. This picture, taken earlier today, tells its own story as the two police officers on the scene confirmed. There'd been smash and grab raid on the Springbok Jewellers. In broad daylight too.
Here's the latest local shop refurbishment as photographed on Sunday. The impending Cave of Plunder will fill the space vacated by the erstwhile (ahem) sauna and massage parlour between Ladbrokes and Dunya, opposite the pond. At Yeah Hackney the proprieter has revealed that his cave will be "a gift and gadget shop...a treasure trove of quirky and unique gifts for all ages," also offering "retro milkshakes and weighed sweets" and a fancy dress department in the basement. I may re-name this blog Gentification Times.
I bumped into an old friend in the fruit and veg section the other day. He was swooning at the mushrooms - six different kinds, all attractively displayed. "I think we'll all be winners," he said.
That's the first person I've heard describe the imminent arrival of Tesco in such terms, and I can see what means. No recent visitor to Palm 2 can fail to have noticed that Abdullah and his team have been sharpening up what I imagine retail gurus would term their "customer offer". The delicatessen has broadened its range and the fresh produce is looking fresher. Home made soup has been available since (I think) before Christmas and the front of the shop has been reorganised to be more spacious. Now they're offering to refill your Ecover bottles and even to look after parcels delivered to your home when you are out. They've also revived the home delivery service they tried out a while back (text your orders to 07889935310. Must be for £15 or more).
Why has this pillar box on Cornthwaite Road been blocked up for several weeks? Why are the ones at the bottom of Chatsworth Road opposite Millfields park and outside the former (thanks Gordon) post office by the roundabout at the top of Lower Clapton Road not blocked up? Why have I not got round to phoning either of the two numbers shown on the blocked up pillar box to ask? I can answer that last question: I haven't got round to it. Perhaps I will tomorrow. Perhaps you will before I do. If you do, please let me know what you were told (click on the pic to make the numbers more visible. Or believe me when I tell you that they are 08457 740740 and 0845 6000606).
The last fruit and vegetable stall in the market where Jack Cohen founded the Tesco empire 80 years ago has shut and traders blame competition from the supermarket for its demise. Martin Wiles, whose family have been trading in Well Street Market, Hackney, for 50 years, held a party for customers and friends before packing up. His was the last daily stall in a once-bustling market. Now there is one weekend clothes stall left in the whole street.
Mr Wiles, 53, from Romford, said: "It's pointless trying to trade around here at the moment. It's just so quiet. When I started 35 years ago there were 50 stalls on a Saturday. "Just like high streets across the country, a supermarket has killed it for independent traders like me. It rips the heart out of a community. The difference here is that this market is where it all began for Tesco."
You know that former Turkish social club called Mesudiye on the left hand side of Lower Clapton Road heading south? The one that's recently become a sort of covered fruit and veg stall where you can buy a bowl of anything for a pound? Well, this photo is hanging on the wall in there. Just thought you ought to know.