Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Cockney Robins

click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
It appears that what I initially thought to be a highly amusing and perhaps semi-tongue in cheek letter from Mr J C Fentiman, was not so - I'm not a snob, but we don't want 'cocknification' - Guardian 21 May. I therefore write with regard to his latest offering, published in your letters page – Pie-and-mash lovers must be driven from Wanstead – Guardian 4 June.

What Mr Fentiman appears not to understand, as he surveys his Wanstead manor from his narrow perspective, is that he is now living in an East London village which is continually developing its own unique character. Firstly, in terms of the architecture, should he simply look up and around, when he comes down from his ivory tower, he would see that the Robins Pie & Mash Shop signage, which he finds so offensive, actually perfectly matches (by accident or design) the original white and black painted properties of the area.

Furthermore Wanstead's population is made up of mostly quite affluent working and middle class folk of a wide age range. Both groups have members (including some of what Mr Fentiman referred to as rough types) who are used to cockney grub as well as having acquired (due to the influx of young upcoming professionals) more sophisticated tastes in the foods that we now eat. Yes Wanstead, despite being closer to the likes of Basildon and East Ham, is of late assuming the same type of cafe society atmosphere as Hampstead; although it is not as far up its own backside...yet.

In any event even I, as a vegetarian with a preference for more exotic flavours, can appreciate how good old fashioned pie & mash (just as fish & chips) would appeal to some palates. As to the chosen method of eating one's choice of cuisine: spoons?! Whatever next? The savages will soon be eating with sticks or simply use their hands, heaven help us! I daresay that what Mr Fentiman would find most 'quaint' is that the spoons used for pie & mash and jellied eels were also probably licked clean to be re-used as musical instruments, to accompany a right old sing-song, after a good supper. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating 'knees ups around the old joanna' instead of grace after meals, but I hardly think that anyone’s grandchildren are going to be ‘culinarily’ traumatised by witnessing a person’s unusual use of cutlery. Nevertheless, rather than have it hidden away in some back street (as the gentleman suggests) give me the cultural celebration of openly rejoiced, genuine cocknification over uptight, faux gentrification any day.

Finally, by the way, Robins required no change of usage for the unit that it is trading from. The firm is operating in true keeping with the oft preferred and referred to like for like planning guidelines and, as a purveyor of pie and mash, the liquor it serves does not require an alcohol licence such as the one so readily handed to Mr Fentiman's more acceptable gauche, brash and flash Tesco store.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Leading Spokesperson
Green Party - Redbridge

1 comment:

  1. ...and Jellied Eels too, Yum.

    I have notified the Pie and Mash club so expect charabancs soon!