The Day They Left.

Surrey Steps, off Strand Lane, north of the Embankment, November 2014.

Surrey Steps, off Strand Lane, north of the Embankment, November 2014.

… by Tim Wells:

The first thing I noticed was that the beigels had gone

and there was a run on fried egg sandwiches.

Katie Hopkins became a nice person.

The free newspaper on the bus had actual news in it.

It turned out there actually was £350 million for the NHS.

Farage said he’d buy those of us left a pint,

which was fortuitous ‘cos Wetherspoons had cut their prices.

No more forelock tugging for us, Squire,

‘cos what with all the empty houses

each and every one of us got a luxury flat,

each of which came with a rent cap.

The radio could have been better. They’d decided no Kate Bush,

no P.J Harvey but there was a hell of a lot of Coldplay.

Employment was a doddle. I’d always wanted to be a doctor,

or a plumber, or have me very own fish and chip shop,

and these days all the education was free so it was

certificates all round. Gilt edged ones with a crinkle cut at that!

At the job my working day had been halved, pay doubled,

holidays extended. The light began to dawn.

© Tim Wells. Written after the United Voices of the World picket of 100 Wood Street, 29 June 2016.

Photo © David Secombe.

Burroughs Eel & Pie House, Brixton.

Pie & Mash shop, Brixton, London, 1988Burroughs Eel & Pie House, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton. © Tim Marshall.

A University Education by Tim Wells:

The poshos behind me in the pie and mash queue
are puzzled. Firstly that there’s a queue, secondly
that the disappearing London they’d set out to discover
is thriving.
At the counter I order large pie and mash. Easy,
one perfect pie, mash smoothed to the side of the plate
and smothered with liquer. It fair sets a fellow.
There is some disquiet after me however.
Adding some toit to his hoity voice the chap behind
declares ‘I can’t seem to see a menu’.
The old girl serving stabs her wooden spoon
into the steaming vat of mash, stares at him blankly
and states, ‘this is a pie and mash shop dear.’
The rest of us punters burst into laughter.
A toff fumbles for change.

Pie & Mash shop, Brixton, London, 1988© Tim Marshall.

Pie & Mash shop, Brixton, London, 1988© Tim Marshall.

Pie & Mash shop, Brixton, London, 1988© Tim Marshall.

Pie & Mash shop, Brixton, London, 1988© Tim Marshall.

These photos of the staff and patrons of Burroughs Eel and Pie Shop, Coldharbour Lane, were taken by Tim in the 1980s as part of a series on Brixton cafes. Burroughs was originally J. Young’s Eel and Pie House, which opened in 1930. The shop narrowly avoided destruction during the 1981 Brixton riots but closed in the mid-1990s; the premises are currently home to Gyoza, a pan-Asian restaurant.
A University Education © Tim Wells. 


Rotherhithe. Photo Geoff Howard, poem Tim Wells (4/5)

Go-go dancer, The Lord Wellington, Rotherhithe, London, June 1974. © Geoff Howard.

Smut by Tim Wells: 

There’s so
much of it
and never
enough,
under the
fingernails,
and on
lapels.
A girl
with a
scarlet melton,
sipping
kir royale,
catches my eye.
Cassis
stains
the bar top,
dark
and viscous.
She looks
at me
sideways,
a cherry
in her drink.

© Tim Wells. 

Rotherhithe Photographs: 1971-1980 by Geoff Howard is available direct from the photographer at £25.


Before the Blue Wall. Photo: Homer Sykes, text: Tim Wells (3/4)

Transport cafe, Hackney Marshes. © Homer Sykes 2006.

My Bitch Up

Burning Geronimo through the East End, the motor skittish at jump, stop, start.
Music blasting out the windows, slapping Joe Public in the face as we roar by.
Tossing the used notes behind us, dirty knees and carpet burn noses.
Each staccato burst spent, surly, and spittin’ in the eye of every pocket money massive.
On Commercial Road some City boy lone ranger races us red light to red light,
every green a pistol shot.
At Limehouse John John faces him and mouths, “Ours is stolen.”
The silence: single mum heavy. Someone drops the sprog.

© Tim Wells.

A selection of pictures from Before the Blue Wall, Homer Sykes’s project documenting the Lea Valley prior to the Olympic redevelopment, may be seen at the Green Lens Gallery (4a Atterbury Road, London N4 1SF) until the 25th of July. Homer’s website is here.


Dmitri Kasterine. Text: Tim Wells. (3/5)

Tailor, Putney. Photo © Dmitri Kasterine.

Dead Man’s Pockets by Tim Wells: 

Things found in the pockets of Tim Wells, Saturday Night, 28.02.09

Right coat pocket – mobile phone (Liquidator as ringtone), spectacles.

Ticket pocket – a dozen of his own business cards, business cards for Niall O’Sullivan, Alice Gee and  S. Reiss Menswear, return train ticket to Epsom.

Left coat pocket – keys – England fob, poem entitled ‘Self-Portrait as a P G Tips Chimp’, flyer for 14 Hour 14th march show with Karen Hayley, Ashna Sarkar, Amy Blakemore and others.

Inside coat pocket – an Elvis pen.

Right trouser pocket – £8.56 in assorted change.

Left trouser pocket – empty

Hip pocket – Oyster card and wallet

Wallet (black leather) – £160 in twenty pound notes, dry cleaning ticket, Leyton Orient FC membership card from 87/88 season, visa and cash card, picture of Joan Collins in window nook, horoscope stating ‘The first thing you have to ask yourself is what has to go; the second is what is going to take its place; and the third is where will I go to celebrate. Day done.’

© Tim Wells 2009.


Homer Sykes: Britain in the 1980s. Text by Tim Wells (4/5)

Watching the Lord Mayor’s Show, 1980. © Homer Sykes/Photoshelter.

Epsolutely by Tim Wells:

Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

The first time I met the parents of my girlfriend Alexis they put on extra posh accents to impress. They were sweet, so was the tea, and already far posher than me. It only took one ‘Ello, luverly to meet you’ from me for them to realise they’d over-invested. But by then they couldn’t back down. Alexis whispered that they weren’t normally that posh and all she’d told them about me was that I was lovely. But they knew, that I knew, that they knew, that I knew, that they knew, that I knew, that they knew, that I knew, that…

Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

Bin men pick up rubbish bags with their pinky fingers daintily extended, John Nettles is the law and the starlings sing ‘You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful…’ in Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

I bought my girl chocolates. There were only Conscious Chocolate, Green & Black’s and Seeds of Change in the pristine shops. Middle-class chocolates with centres such as ‘the better part of town’, ‘a good college’ and ‘a bit of rough’ in Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

There are no coincidences but sometimes the pattern is more obvious. In Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

Alexis had a Porsche, in ‘not red dahling; scarlet’. She’d motor to Marks and Spencer’s, to the Downs and to country pubs for lunch. On our first outing she squeezed me in and sped off in a polite cough of dust. A few miles on she remarked worriedly that the car seemed to be dragging to the left. She drove a bit further and then pulled over. She walked around the sportster but could not find fault, drove further and said that the car was still not right. I asked her how many other fat blokes she’d had in there before?

I got the train back from Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

© Tim Wells.