The Tooting Popular Front.

I live in Wimbledon Borders…well, when I say *Wimbledon Borders* I actually mean Tooting, SW London but like most folk in Tooting if we want to impress a bit of fluff in a bar then we say Wimbledon Borders, you see, Wimbledon borders Tooting. I seem to be falling into the trap of what most English folk do and go for location aspiration, one of our politicians, a slippery little bugger who would give even Harry Houdini a run for his money, coined the phrase ‘being economical with the truth’ and most folk in Tooting can be somewhat economical with the truth of where they live.

Talking of which, about 40 miles due south, just before you splash into the sea is Brighton. Brighton has kind’a merged with it’s sister town Hove over the years but if you ask anyone in Brighton where do they live they will say ‘Actually’… This is a bit of an in-joke as Hove considers itself a few steps further up the social ladder than Brighton, so when you ask anyone in Brighton did they really live in Brighton they would invariably say “Hove actually” and now even the very posh just say “I live in Actually..”.

Tooting of course isn’t *that* bad or undesirable but on my travels around the world nobody has heard of Tooting but everyone has heard of Wimbledon.. Most Brits of a certain vintage will remember Tootings most famous resident, Wolfie Smith and the Tooting Popular Front with great fondness but I guess everyone else will just have to google him.

Tooting means ‘the dwelling of the sons of Totas’ and was mentioned in the Doomsday book but it’s strange to think that even in relatively recent times this area was countryside. Up the road is Springfield Psychiatric Hospital, or ‘home sweet home’ as I call it, the Victorians would always build their loony bins well out into the countryside and I’ve seen pictures of Springfield surrounded by cows and haystacks and yet I live within the boundaries of London.. or Londonium as I like to call it.

Tooting itself is actually referred to as New New Delhi by my friends as it is the main Asian shopping area in London, like most cities different ethnic groups tend to clump together and so Tooting has become the place to buy anything Indian or Sri Lankin, which of course means that there are excellent markets selling fruits, veg and spices unknown outside the Indian sub continent but even better nearly every other shop in the High Street is a proper curry house..

However, because of the effect of second and third generation families sending their children to University rather than working in the family restaurant, we now have the rather interesting situation of a shortage of Indian waiters for the restaurants..so now we have Polish waiters in Indian restaurants waiting on the tables and trying to pass themselves off as Asian and adopting comical Asian accents. Most folk out of town don’t notice this but the great unwashed of Tooting can spot non-Asian waiters a mile off and it gives us great amusement to use the few words of Gujarati we know to the waiters and get blank stares.. it’s an interesting turn around of events when an Irishman knows more Gujarati than the waiters in an Indian restaurant 🙂

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