We sat cosy under a fig tree sipping Bellini’s in London’s Walthamstow Village celebrating the second opening of the Happy Birthday Edward Lear exhibition. Bewildered flies hovered under branches burdened heavy with fruit, they were not the only ones bewildered, for remarkably, it did not rain. Spritzing tangy Spanish cologne, more efficient than a shoo of the hand, soon cleared the swarm away. Unpleasant smells usually create strong boundaries. Inside the gallery, a long haired tortoishell cat, discerning in manner, whose name now escapes me, lounged by the cash desk glancing momentarily at a fresh batch of visitors. He feigns indifference. And, shimmering in splendid mid 1950’s curvaciousness, a stand alone pearlescent paneled gold trim cocktail bar displays a large cut glass bowl hosting dark green bottles of sparkly wine. Eclectic marvels both modern and vin-tage, are on sale in the gleaming interior of the Penny Fielding Gallery, the exhibiting artwork, a tribute to Edward Lear, complements well with the space.
At dusk, as the private view waned, our party headed towards a drinking hole, I was supposed to be heading home but got swayed, and glad of it too. Walthamstow Village is unusual in brick, and this green gem stone merits exploration. There is a timber structure on the wonk, and an Corinthian capital stands awkward outside a museum as though awaiting refuse collection day, this, alongside shops selling olives, and bijoux restaurants, adds further to the curiosity of the village. A gulp of a graveyard awoke me from the hypnotic cosmetic tranquility, perhaps The Beast of Ongar, a panther like cat last sighted in Walthamstow Marshes some years back, roams here? Further along the ancient Orford Road, at the point where it bends like a rainbow, lush gardens frame polite buildings. Elsewhere, another garden boasts a clay flower pot large enough to bathe two adults, if the adults were not intimate in the first bathing, one can guarantee intimacy pretty much soon afterward. But enough of intimacy. Gaspworthy and remarkable, a multitudinous display of gnomes decorate a lawned apartment block. Here, there is a sense of community, a sense of hand holding, a sense of support. Photographs were taken, the neighbour did not mind, he is accustomed to the request. One delights or gasps, depending on one’s barometer of taste vis a vis gnomes. I gasped a lot, I was wearing a pair of impossible heels. Soon we arrived at the cat friendly pub. But there is a bereavement, a much loved live-in moggie has departed, and a note pinned to the wall states that he is not forgot. What is it with cats and Walthamstow? Before midnight, we retraced our foot steps homewards. On the dim light street, a foreboding feline type shadow increasing grew, disquieted, but not drunk (I was driving after all), I turned around, we were being followed by….