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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Peckham Pelican, Peckham

When I used to spend time in San Diego (bored rigid by its plastic people and sunshiny superficiality), my idea of a fun day out was to slum it over the border in  Tijuana. Tequila, tacos and more soul than glossy California could shake a stick at: me gusto! BUT... I would not want to live there. I feel much the same way about Peckham, aka the Dalston of the Sarf. I love its exotic food stalls; rudeboy fashions; "Praise the Lordy" old West Indian dames in their mad mother of the bride hats and Sunday best floral prints; not to mention Frank's rooftop Campari bar, Peckham Springs art gallery (ahem, and bar), and those fascinating lurid beauty parlours wherein, there's so much acrylic weave going down, one carelessly misplaced Marlboro and the whole damn neighbourhood will become an inferno. On my latest awayday, I discover a new bar. All squat party decor, council refuse tip-dodging 1960s furniture, and DIY art - a surrealist spinning wheel after Marcel Duchamp, that's virtually identical to the original. Set in a concrete wing of a peeling Art Deco building, the ultra lo-fi Peckham Pelican is set to take off; located, as it is, away from the main ragga drag, towards arty Camberwell College. From a short list of cocktails, I ask for a bloody Mary. The manager smiles, ‘We’re out of Worcester sauce but I’ll cycle down to Tesco and find some.” £20 million pads or not, don't expect that level of service in Chelsea. While Bradley Wiggins sets off on Le Tour de SE15, his sweet female charges (so green, I wonder if their parents realise they are not upstairs in their bedrooms drooling over camp Justine Bieber posters) set about pizza making. My 3-toppings-for-8-quid special isn't particularly special, but as it's edible and made with love and isn't from Jamie's Italian; I'm happy as Larry - whoever Larry was. ( Grayson? Olivier? The Lamb?) To smoove 70s soul, I pore over a fascinating pile of ancient top shelf magazines found among the random junk dotted around the joint. Take Parade. Price, one shilling. Sample article: "Don't believe the current health scares. If  you ONLY smoke 25 cigarettes a day, your only worry should be the expense.' Life in 1964 was so simple. I could happily stay in my Peckham time warp forever.
92 Peckham Road SE15 5PY 7701 0225