Westbourne Grove

January 27, 2009

From the basement Spa, a Rhodesian, and Jan from Jarrow ran a silk screen printing business. Dave Hart, a Blackpool graphic artist was often seen there. The partnership was broken up by the arrival of Gabi Herman, a diminuative German, of forehead scars and who had been abused by her father.
Part of the break-up seemed to be a move to Church Row, Willesden when the squat became dispersed. Trail bike and a car were stolen from the Willesden streets. It was above a Cypriot hair salon, and we had to pass through the house of a postman to access the flat. Willesden was an anthropological experience, squalid, a place only students could endure, and out of the way.
Nestling in between the main north west sewers of Finchley Road and Kilburn High Road an old drove road, wound it’s way to the horizon of Fortunes Green. Just short of West End Green Jan found a basement were we continued silk screen printing. Only days later we moved in to a luxury flat given to us by a wonderful Jewish couple who had taken a shine to Jan. This was the start of a Golden Age for us.
I had arrived in London in September to go to North London Polytechnic but after sharing nice flats with fellow students I did not care for, so gravitated towards squatting. The first of these was in Stevie Smith’s Avondale Road in far away Palmer’s Green, but I did not bother to find out what she wrote. Then to near the straw on the floor Chippenham PH, Paddington were Norman Wisdom was a nipper. The other students trashed this spotless flat with a nice view down Saltram Crescent, thence to Stamford Hill and on to Green Lanes. Pivotally, I met Jan again, who had met Spa in Westbourne Grove and we moved into a squat in Bravington Road, just off the Harrow Road.
That year was proverbially a sweltering hot summer.
Back in Jarrow at the Co-op Dairy. At about 5am Bob Holt the driver picked me up. With Bob, a good looking wiry fancy man from Low Jarrow, I headed out in the Diesel Thames Trader to Marsden and South Shields delivering milk. Bob only gave me 50p, so I supplemented my income. This involved me and a friend “Milk Checking” all the way back from the Chelsea Cat. Shillings left out were swapped with tokens, the cash pocketed.
So we would sneak up the paths. Very confusing for those involved when they went round to collect the monthly bills. South Shields criminals were known to me, and there was a South Shields connection to Lance. Boys had been brought up by men and used as prostitutes.
When Lance died muggers, thieves, lords and ladies attended his funeral in London. I met him only a few times and that in the Westbourne Park Road squat; now demolished. Lance lived under the arches at Charing Cross. An old-fashioned burglar and general villain, he showed us the handful of pepper he kept in his pocket to escape arrest.


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