Walthamstow, London, UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Walthamstow, London, UK

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A Stag from the Waltham Forest coat of arms - by Táralómë

A district of East London, semi-notable for a variety of reasons, none of which at first glance appear to be very compelling. Cosmopolitan yet somewhat grotty, grotty yet somewhat cosmopolitan, it manages to successfully disguise from casual visitors the fact that it is actually quite a nice place to live.

Walthamstow has made two major contributions to world culture:

  • William Morris - Late socialist philosopher and designer of foliage-bedecked wallpapers. He left his house behind him, and it remains just about the only official 'sight' in the borough of Waltham Forest. When he lived in Walthamstow, it was still a village in the county of Essex.

  • East 17 - Boy band of the early 1990s. Named after the Walthamstow postcode, they even released an album called... Walthamstow. After a brief moment in the spotlight, they eventually faded into obscurity.

It has also made one minor contribution to world culture, namely donating its 'Wal' to the fictional borough of Walford in the British TV soap opera Eastenders.

Good points of living in the 'Stow, as some residents call it, are cheap rent, access to all the fun of the Victoria Line on the London Underground, and that superior feeling Walthamstow dwellers are apt to get when mocking the denizens of what they perceive to be nearby 'lesser' London areas (ie, Chingford and Leytonstone).

Things to do in Walthamstow

  • Go to the market and marvel at the unparalleled range of exotic vegetables on sale. These include yams, eddoes, plantains, kamalas, yams, christophenes, yams, chips and yams. Marvel also at the unparalleled range of cheap rubbish on sale, and the almost unparalleled range of things that 'dropped off the back of a lorry1 on very quick sale before the Old Bill2 catch us'.

  • Visit Doobry's Bagel Shop and eat a warm bagel.

  • Admire the wide selection of cod-medieval tat that adorns the walls of Ye Olde Rose and Crown pub. This salubrious drinking establishment was formerly known as just the 'Rose and Crown', but sometime in 1998 it passed the official historical age beyond which it is allowed to call itself 'Ye Olde3' (probably about six years). Other acceptable public houses include The Village and The Bell, but they lose points for not having any dead animal heads hanging off the walls.

  • Sit in Lloyd Park and watch the squirrels.

  • Go to the dogs - quite literally, by wagering some hard-earned cash at the Walthamstow Dog Racing Track.

In the early history of this small town in the outer rim of the London metropolitan area, a song was jointly commissioned by the Walthamstow tourist office and the Association of Fish and Chip Shop Owners (AFCSO) to represent the diversity of life there. The song was entitled 'Walthamstow' and related a romantic story of a young, motorcycle-riding rocker, Greasy Joe, and his short-lived romance with a biker chick, Ann. A group called 'The Barron' were awarded the honour of recording this masterpiece. For their services rendered, they found themselves on the New Year's honours list and ever since were known as the 'Barron Knights'.

1If something has 'dropped off the back of a lorry' it's stolen.2The Old Bill is a term of English Slang for the police.3Check out the Entry on English Pub Names for more information.

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