Saturday, 28 July 2012

Special Irish interest at London's 2012 Olympics

There is a special Irish interest at this year's London Olympics.   Not just Katie Taylor and the rest, but your very own Gombeen Man,  who lived in Stratford for 7 of his 9 years in London back in the late Eighties/early Nineties. 

It's a bit strange for yours truly to see the reporters standing outside Stratford Shopping Centre, which he trudged through on a daily basis while travelling into Old Street tube station for the daily grind on many a morning, before landing a  job in nearby Limehouse which was a bit more convenient.   

Back then Stratford tube station was a bit shabby, as was the shopping centre - though not anything as shabby as Crisp Street near the Limehouse workplace.  Newham, the borough where Stratford resides, was one of the poorest local authority areas in England back then... it might  still be. 

I have fond memories of the place though, and our octogenarian neighbours who were a bit Alf Garnett...

They were sound once they got over the idea of a couple of young Irish people moving in beside them during the height of the IRA bombing campaign, which killed many in London and elsewhere.  (And yes, I am also aware of the murderous activities of the UDA/UVF scumbags back then too). 

Once Alf and the other 'alf  (Bob and Anne, actually) twigged we didn't have a stash of Semtex in the shed, and a couple of balaclavas under the mattress, they couldn't do enough for us.  Or any blow-ins who might move in, I should imagine.  Stratford was like that - at least in our experience. 

One other fellow-Irishman might have noticed it too... Stratford staged a couple of Brendan Behan's plays at its Theatre Royal as long ago as 1954, under the guidance of Joan Littlewood.  And if you have seen any of Behan's plays, you will recognise that was the very epitome of tolerance. 

Good luck to Stratford.  I hope it benefits from its status as the venue for the 2012 Olympics. 

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John said...

By the way, GM, I loved the opening ceremony, Danny Boyle showed the rise of capitalism in an amusing and entertaining way and well done the recognition of the NHS.I look forward to see what will happen at the closing event.

aine said...

like you GM I lived in Stratford
about 10 years before you though. I used to travel into Chancery Lane every day by tube from Stratford I walked through that shabby little shopping centre all the time. am originally from north london. IWe could have had the same neighbours it sounds like it, only the names were different, mine were Dot and Jim. True born cockneys salt of the earth people they were. They didn't mind a few Irish songs either, they heard a few from our house. In spite of the bombing campaign everyone just got on with their lives without fear that's the spirit of Londoners. I have fond memories of the place too because my eldest daughter was born in stratford.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ John.
I missed the opening ceremony John... have to YouTube that one.

@ Aine.
A fellow Stratfordonian! Nice to see it was not just me. And fair to play to Dot and Jim and their like.

Dakota said...

Opening and Closing Ceremonies were superb. Good Heart and Good Nature is what it's all about. That's why British Popular Culture is revered.

The Gombeen Man said...

It's true D. British pop music from the time of the Beatles (with their Liverpool Irish connections, who were in turn influenced by black music, Elvis and Motown) has been loved the world over.

Ireland started waking up back in the showband era, who played all the pop and rock'n'roll hits that were deemed "foreign" and a threat to Irishness.

You have to hand it to the Brits on that front, though the Aran sweater brigade might not like it.