THE WOODMAN – TRADITIONAL ENGLISH PUB

It’s pouring with rain today, all day.  Our visit to the flower festival aborted we decided to have a lunchtime drink in the Woodman in Chapmore End.  It is perhaps my favourite pub along with the Wonder in Enfield.  Small, simple, friendly unpretentious and nowadays it serves good and imaginative food as well as good bitter and now stocks sherry.  It is satisfying sitting, talking in such quiet and non-judgemental atmosphere just as people have for a hundred years or more.

There is a picturesque village pond full of optimistic ducks and a bright red, traditional telephone box.  One year we sat on the bench, next to the phone box  with Bill and Renee, enjoying being there.  Bill is no longer with us but I think of him on every visit.

Valerie had her sherry, Peggy lime and lemonade and me tomato juice spiced with Tabasco sauce.

The Woodman - Chapmore End; Quiet, unassuming, traditional.
The Woodman – Chapmore End; quiet, unassuming, traditional.
Ducks enjoying the rain, as I was!
Ducks enjoying the rain, as I was!
Ever optimistic they saw me and assumed I had food for them.
Ever optimistic they saw me and assumed I had food for them. You can just see a flash of red of the telephone box behind the trees.

Our first visit in 2001, about 4 managers ago, was a strange experience and inspired a poem.  We enjoyed it very much and have driven there for a drink witnessing changes over the years but it is still, at heart, the Woodman a great pub.

The Woodman – Chapmore End

 
We walk to the bar,
a terrier shakes and a cloud of dust
bounces around in the winter sun.
An old piano skulks near by,
its veneer of bird’s eye maple and dirt
concealing rhythm and passion.
There’s a Spanish guitar,
a concertina, all are silent.

Here the uniform is old clothes,
fleeces spattered with mud.
It’s seedy, untidy but;
is a real pub,
sells real ale
has real regulars.

We don’t have sherry, don’t have food.
The tall, pale android is polite but firm
wondering why we want these strange things
in a pub that sells good bitter.
There’s no smoke, no mobile phones,
it’s warm and a table’s free – so we stay.
Me with tomato juice Valerie with Scotch,
sharing crisps and a pickled egg
in an English pub.

© Anthony Fisher January 2001

ENHEDUANNA – THE FIRST NAMED POET. 2285-2250 BCE SUMER

I like Enheduanna’s poetry, her passion, emotion, lyricism, honesty. Innana is my favourite god and Enheduanna often writes about and to her, even though she is High Priest to Nanna  the moon god, at the Temple in Ur.  Translated by Samuel Kramer and re-writen by Diane Wolkstien and separately translated and re-written by Betty De Shong Meador, the poems and temple hymns are moving and stimulating  as well as giving a glimpse of life in Sumer.  Enheduanna’s father King Sargon was an Acadian, a Semite, and his reign marked the end of the Sumerian civilization.  Her writings were copied over and over and lived on  into the Mesopotamian civilisations.  Sumerian literature was highly regarded long after the great Sumerian civilization ceased to exist.

The poem Nin-me-sara nowadays translated as The Exaltation of Innana, though I much prefer the translation – Lady of the Largest Heart – is an entreaty to Inanna to restore Enheduanna to her position of High Priestess.  Here is Janette Yacoub reading extracts of the poem in Sumerian.

Recital in Sumerian of extracts from Enheduanna’s poem NIN-ME-ŠÁR-RA read by Janette Yacoub. Recording supplied courtesy of the Enheduanna Society

HOORAH! HONEY MANGOES ARE BACK.

Yes!   These delicious, out-of-this world fruits are back in Ponders End.

A box of be-jewelled and succulent Honey Mangoes.
A box of be-jewelled,  succulent and luscious Honey Mangoes.

Last year was so difficult with the ban on the import of this wonderful fruit from India and Pakistan.   My heart screamed with horror but my head knew it was right but now there is harmony.  To mark the occasion I post one of my mango poems.

Mango

In dull Ponders End, glorious, exotic colours!
Boxes red, blue, gold, I bought one
from a man in a khaki tunic, dense beard;
six, Royal, Honey Mangoes.
You like them don’t you.
I sell eighty boxes a day.
They were piled up on the pavement
outside the shop by the mosque
full of men in white; yes just men
all with beard and crocheted cap.
Next door they sell Barfi, Halwa, lentils
and twists of  deep-fried, orange-stained,
sugar-soaked batter.

From the door you can see
Weatherspoon’s* in the Picture Palace
where  Mosquitoes** were once assembled
by Enfield’s men and women,
whilst bombs fell in the High Street.
I remember black and grey days
my gabardine raincoat
ersatz jam with sawdust pips.

You exactly fit my hand.
Lie there listless, with yellow,
shadow-dimpled skin.
Shining, bright-coloured strips
are pinioned by a brilliant label
as some intimate jewel.

Sharply, I slit down to your core,
carefully spoon you open.
The flesh that meets my lips
is as soft as a woman,
sweet and subtly fragrant,
a complicated taste.

What else could you be
my Pakistani mango?

© Anthony Fisher July 2012

*British pub chain that specialises in using unusual buildings.
**World war II bomber designed by De Havilland.  It was made of wood so Enfield’s furniture factories could make sections that could be assembled elsewhere.

The man in the shop told me he now sells 100 boxes per day.

FROM BRICK LANE AND THALI TO FORTY HALL AND THE MAGNA CARTA

Up to 300 languages are spoken in London and when Valerie and I boarded the train to go to Liverpool Street Station it seemed that all were being spoken at once!  It was a lovely, lively atmosphere, a real buzz and good start to the day.  We were headed for Brick Lane to see what is was like, absorb the ambiance and, of course eat a decent meal. It is just a 12 minute walk from the Station and it was a lovely sunny day.  Brick lane is a narrow Street lined with what look like Georgian buildings maybe Victorian, I don’t know but it is an interesting place with people from all over.

A view down Brick Lane
A view down Brick Lane
Brick Lane suddenly empty
Brick Lane suddenly empty

Many shops sold vinyl records others Indian  sweets.

Trays of Balfi, Halwa and loads of things I did not recognise.
Trays of Balfi, Halwa and loads of things I did not recognise.

There were retro clothes and indoor markets from time to time.

There were so many restaurants there were barkers outside each trying to tempt people to go in to eat, amazing!  We eventually chose one.  It was bright, with a very welcoming atmosphere and staff.  One was bubbling over with happiness and excitement as he was going back to Bangladesh with his young family for the first time in 9 years, three weeks of being in paradise.  He spoke of fresh fish from the family lake, vegetables fruit and lychees from bushes as tall as him laden with these delicious fruit.  It was uplifting just to hear him talk. Genuine Bangladeshi music was being played and we felt very welcome.  We both ordered Vegetarian Thali and it was delicious, fresh, well prepared and cooked.

Freshly prepared and cooked, it tasted as good as it looks.
Vegetarian Thali. Freshly prepared and cooked, it tasted as good as it looks.

Now was the time to wander back to the station via Spitalfields indoor market.  The streets were quiet and empty, where were all the people?

P1000565

P1000564

Well they were all in the market and what noise! It must be how a hive of bees sounds and, this time, all three hundred languages in London were being spoken.

We were only able to stay in a short while and were soon home.

The evening we went to Forty Hall to attend a talk and poetry reading given by Alan Murray on Freedom and the Magna Carta. 

Entering Forty Hall
Entering Forty Hall

He read poems, talked and a recorder group with viols, Helios, played music of the time Alan was referring to.  It was such a change from Brick Lane and Spitalfields and I learnt how poets fight injustice and encourage others to do so as well.  I realised why governments imprison poets or exile them.  As we left I was truck by the evening view from the Front door down to the river past Elsynge Palace where Henry VIII planned the Reformation in defiance of one of the paragraphs in the Magna Carta.

Looking down towards the river and Elsynge Palace from the entrance of Forty Hall.
Looking down towards the river and Elsynge Palace from the entrance of Forty Hall.