Memories · Notes from West London

Cadby Hall

My subject is memory. Most of the things that I want to remember come to mind easily. Some of the things that I don’t want to remember also come to mind easily, which is a shame. Every now and then a name or word fails to come to mind and, when it finally does, I make a note of it somewhere.

The first example of this that I can remember was Jane Horrocks, in 1996. I was telling some friends about the production of “Macbeth” that she had appeared in at the Greenwich Theatre the previous year and couldn’t recall her name. I spent a few minutes asking things like, “Who’s that actress, from the north, you know the one I mean, she was in ‘Little Voice’. She was Bubble in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’? What’s her name?” It came to me before too long, and the name Jane Horrocks returns to my mind whenever I temporarily forget another name or phrase. It happened one evening last month, walking with my 13-year-old son around Brook Green here in West London.

There are links to personal and family history all over this part of town. I showed him two buildings that were home to training rooms where I delivered literally thousands of hours of corporate training in the 1990s. One of the buildings had been built on the site of the old Garryowen Dance Hall, a popular haunt for people who had moved here from Ireland. It was just down the road from the Hammersmith Palais, which survived, one way or another, until 2007. My mother’s older sister, working as a nurse at the old Fulham Hospital at the time, met her future husband at the Garryowen. Their wedding took place at Holy Trinity Church on Brook Green, which is where my son and I were heading that evening. We also walked past the Queen’s Head pub on the green, which is where I took delegates from training courses for lunch back in the 1990s. I ate there hundreds of times but until 2012 had never had a pint of beer there. We walked past the girls’ school that one of his cousins attended.

We were early for mass at Holy Trinity so we carried on to the Hammersmith Road. I was able to point out, in one direction, the location of my father-in-law’s old school (long since pulled down) and the pub that used to be the Red Cow (a music venue from my youth) and is now called Latymer’s. In the other direction there are glass and steel buildings where there used to be a huge building complex that made the food for Lyons restaurants (Corner Houses and Tea Houses). What was it called? It operated round the clock producing sandwiches and cakes for the hundreds of Lyons outlets all over London. Right up to the 1960s it was a big local employer, and took on a lot of casual labour. People who wanted to earn a few bob on the night shift could just turn up and get work. That’s what I heard. It’s possible that my dad did a shift or two there when he first came to London. I once heard Michael Caine on TV tell a story about doing a shift there, making doughnuts through the night with a bunch of Jamaican guys. The story ended with something like, “You do not want to know what some of them used to make the holes in the doughnuts”. I think I know what he meant.

What was the name of the place?

There was a 1982 movie called “Moonlighting”, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, about a group of Polish builders coming to London to work (illegally) on some house renovations. The lead role was played by Jeremy Irons. Several of the scenes were shot in the food store that took up part of the ground floor of this building whose name escaped me. Jeremy Irons’ character had a scam that enabled him to buy two bags of shopping for the price of one. He would select his groceries, pay for them, bag them up and then leave the bags round the corner. Then he would return to the shop, select exactly the same items, bag them up and walk out without paying. If confronted by a shop employee he would show his receipt for all the items that were in his shopping bags. The food store was called Europa if I remember right.

The whole building was pulled down soon after the film was made. The new buildings on this part of Hammersmith Road were home to AOL Netscape at some point in the last 20 years, and also to LBC Radio. Maybe they still are. I visited LBC in the late 1990s but not AOL. My son and I returned to Brook Green and the name came to me: Cadby Hall. As I mentioned earlier in this piece, whenever a name or phrase comes to mind after initially failing to recall it I make a note of it somewhere. This is the first example to be recorded here, this Blog continuing to function as my exobrain.

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