Saturday, 6 December 2008

Dinner at Clapham Junction(A Nostalgic Multi-Racial Gathering).

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Dinner at Clapham Junction (A Nostalgic Multi-Racial Gathering).

Last Thursday evening (4th of November) a group of us, all boyhood friends , gathered for dinner at the Gourmet Cafe , Lavender Hill, near Clapham Junction. It was a meeting which had been a nightmare to arrange.

One of our group, B, a manager of a betting shop, had won a substantial amount of money by betting on Obama to become President of the U.S.A. He decided to use his substantial winnings by treating his mates to a dinner at the Gourmet Cafe, a lovely “eat-as- much-as-you-like “ establishment which is based in what used to be a bank. It is a stone's throw away from Clapham Junction Station, almost directly opposite Asda.

The evening was almost inevitably going to be a boisterous and jolly affair, what with there being 9 adults, some of whom had not seen each other for over 30 years. There was an awful lot of catching-up to do, anecdotes to swap, tales to tell...

One thing stood out -- one noticed how diverse our group was---one of Chinese/ South African origin, one of West African descent, one of Afro-Caribbean parenthood, one of Northern Irish background, two of Indian/East-African stock, one Anglo-Italian, one whose parents were Greek, and one full-blooded Englishman( married to a lady from Mexico)...It was a heart-warming dinner which would not have been out of place in the cafeteria of the United Nations Building!!!..Well, perhaps without the raucous laughter, and the puerile humour....

The Gourmet Cafe concept is a great one, and it seems to be a bustling, thriving place. Throughout our couple of hours there, we saw a constant coming and going of customers---a popular buffet with fresh food will always attract custom if it is in a good location, and the price is right. At this restaurant, you can fill yourself up for £6.90. Drinks are extra.

We then left for a nearby pub for even more chat and banter, and a few drinks. Fortunately, we had taken the precaution of eating well beforehand, thereby reducing the

possibility of suffering a hangover the following day...I felt sorry for those who had to turn up for work in the morning----after all, some of these guys were in fairly senior positions of great responsibility....

The bar staff kicked everybody out at eleven thirty ---far too early for a major city like London, but perhaps it is not economically viable for them to open beyond that time on a Thursday night.

We all felt a warm glow of brotherly love as we walked down to Clapham Junction, some to catch trains to Surrey and Sussex, others to catch buses to West and North London, and yet others only had to walk round the corner to go home.

This is the area around which we all grew up. Our school, Spencer Park, a stone's throw away, has long been defunct—closed because of a drop in the birth-rate—even the Chapel is now a French restaurant...

There were fraternal hugs all round, with all of us vowing to repeat the experience soon....I jumped on the bus feeling a warm glow, a reminder of a balmy past, a relatively- innocent time when we were teenagers growing up around Clapham Junction.
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