What Do Runners Need?


This morning I added some more content to ‘A Knight’s Tale’. This was mostly new material. To give an idea of the point I have reached in my autobiography, there follows a sample of it. ‘Although I was to make up for it later, I was rather late in waking up to girls. When I was about fifteen, and working in my school holidays in the Despatch Department of Cawdell’s, formerly Kennard’s, store in Wimbledon Broadway, Dad cajoled me into my first foray into the unknown.

The Despatch Department, at the back of the building, was where suppliers made their deliveries. We would then carry the goods up to the various departments. Dad drove a van that took parcels out to buyers.

That summer, a young lady whose name I have conveniently forgotten, made frequent visits to my workplace from the perfume counter. “You know what she wants, don’t you?”, asked my father. “No”, said I, somewhat bemused. “She wants you to take her out”, was the frightening reply.

Plucking up courage, I made a date. On the appointed day I waited outside Wimbledon Town Hall for an hour. She didn’t turn up. I felt both chastened and relieved.

Her story the next day was that her grandmother was ill. I didn’t really buy that, and didn’t repeat the exercise.’

A small section from ‘No-one Forgets A Good Teacher’ has also been included.

On a dull afternoon I scanned the next dozen colour slides from my Streets of London Series. These were all produced in May 2005, and feature part of a regular walk from my Little Venice counselling room to Parents for Children in Islington where I conducted some consultancy.

Lyons Place NW8

Although their telephone number has changed, I think the van disappearing along Lyons Place NW8 is from the London Borough of Camden’s Home Library Service. Details from camden.gov.uk are

‘If you, or someone you know, can’t get out and about, you may be eligible for a home library service delivered direct to your door.

Who is eligible?

The home library service is for Camden residents who are confined to their home due to:

  • a disability
  • limited mobility
  • mental health issues
  • illness including need of short term help (e.g. following an operation or accident
  • isolated, frail or vulnerable
  • no-one available to visit the library for you

What is offered?

After a request, a member of the home library service staff will arrange to visit you at home to assess whether you are eligible.

The service includes:

  • a regular visit to your home, every four weeks
  • our staff will ask you what kind of reading, music and films you like and then
  • suggest and bring suitable material.
  • you can request specific titles
  • an information service is available
  • there is no charge’

Northwick Close NW8

You would need close on £2,000,000 to buy a mews house in either Northwick Close

Hamilton Close NW8

or Hamilton Close in St John’s Wood.

Prince Albert Road NW1

Prince Albert Road NW1 runs along the north side of Regents Park.

Park Village East NW1

At the eastern end is found Park Village East,

Delancey Street NW1

and Delancey Street, at right angles to which is Parkway.

Albert Street NW1

No. 55  is the Hog’s Head pub at the corner of Albert Street, NW1.

Runners Need Hair Stylist 2

Across the road, the juxtaposition of two signs

Runners Need Hair Stylist 1

amused me more than somewhat.

I can’t tell you anything about the hair stylist, but the Runners Need website tells us

‘In the heart of Camden, we opened our first Runners Need store over 30 years ago. Quickly becoming a fixture in the local community, the small team of passionate, enthusiastic, and expert runners are quick to offer help and advice whatever your level.’ They now have 27 outlets in the UK and Ireland.

Arlington Road/Parkway NW1

The far end of Parkway forms a junction with Arlington Road, where the Rat and Parrot pub is now 

a Masala Zone restaurant. There are more photographs on Google, but I was unable to download them. Information on the upmarket chain can be found on http://www.masalazone.com/locations/camden/

Lyme Street NW1

Happily, the Prince Albert in Lyme Street NW1 continues to thrive. london town.com has this to say about it: ‘A decent gastropub that retains enough of the ‘pub’ aspect to ensure a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. Leather sofas are well worn, despite a recent change of ownership in 2007. Food in the dining room upstairs is top quality and surprisingly reasonable with lighter options in the bar downstairs. The main man in the kitchen is David Gill has worked with Marco Pierre White at the Michelin-starred Canteen in Chelsea harbour and for Terrence Conran at the Butlers Wharf Chophouse. Ingredients include non-farmed, sustainably sourced fish, meat sourced only from British farms and producers and cheese from La Fromagerie. Just what a good gastro pub should be; many others could take a lesson from The Prince Albert.

Whatever your views on The Prince Albert’s foray into what its detractors say is overly complicated gastropub cooking, there can be no denying that the delightful adjoining beer garden, although small, is one of North London’s most appealing – and just about secures the historic Camden establishment’s ‘pub’ status. In fact, it’s best to see the upstairs restaurant and the ground level’s Boho-style drinking den as two entirely distinct ventures. Separated from the pavement by an iron fence and a sparse bush, the decked outside area is a favourite with the local cool Camdenite crowd, who come in their swathes, skinny jeans and all, to drink Bulmers and smoke rollies.’

Sheldon Square W2

My journey back took me past Sheldon Square W2, and its sculptures, one of which, striding into the picture on the right, is destined to walk in short shirt sleeves, whatever the weather.

This evening we dined on a fine array of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2016.


53 responses to “What Do Runners Need?”

  1. I was in London in 2005, sorry I missed you,
    I have a recollection of Camden, and taking a ride on a barge along a canal past the zoo, which was pleasant; and i do have some photos which I might very well post. So beware of competition 😈
    Strange people at Camden, my daughter, who was living in London at the time said they were Goths or something along those lines.
    Must be something to do with the climate, the weather was very mild in October / November when we were there, in fact quite pleasant,

  2. Another wonderful London tour, Derrick.
    The home library services is such a wonderful idea. I don’t think we have anything like that here–although I think you can get library books by mail, though I’m not positive about that.

    I liked that in the first Runner Need photo, they need a hair stylist and authentic Thai food.

    We had Chinese take out tonight, too. 🙂

  3. That is a rather succulent detail from your younger days. You were quick to mend the detour though. The London streets are as sparkling as they are interesting. Among many things you convinced me of, runners needing a hair stylist is the most amusing phenomenon.

  4. What an interesting post Derrick, a bit of everything to keep me intrigued, that story at the start must have a great follow up or have I missed something ?

  5. I enjoyed your sentimental journey and was educated in the process, as well. That little teaser from your book makes me curious about what other things you’ll reveal about yourself…

  6. Thanks for the interesting and amusing tour. Hubby runs but has no hair, so won’t be needing the stylist. So sorry you got stood up by the perfume girl. Perhaps it was a good thing, as she may have been a bit overpowering. 🙂

  7. So, clearly, your next project (after all, you haven’t enough to do already) is to visit each of the 27 branches of Runners’ Need, photographing the bizarre conjunctions of businesses that operate nearby. If you RAN between each one, you might end up with an Arts Council grant (as well as knackered knee-joints), but fame and fortune could be yours. Artistic careers have been built on less…

  8. Your post reminds of my grandmother (who died in 1995) who was visited regularly by her local home library service. My mother and I were only talking about this the other day and wondering how much those long-suffering people must have dreaded visiting her! She enjoyed the classics but as soon as she heard about Dickens’ extra-marital affair, he was no longer read by her. She enjoyed a romance but would not tolerate any profanity, no matter how mild, nor any mention of sex. If a book had been deemed unsuitable she would lecture the poor staff unmercilessly. ‘It was only the thought that this book didn’t belong to me that stopped me from ripping the page out and putting it on the fire!’

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