Last week we went to White Hart Lane, although we had meant to go to Cambridge Heath, but we had missed the train to Liverpool Street, so we took the train to Enfield, and decided to stop at White Hart Lane.
Along the way out there was this lovely signage with a white peacock for a Peacock Industrial Estate.
When we first reached Tottenham High Street, we saw this strange makeshift store, blazing with strong lights across the streets, touting a bunch of Spurs and Anti-Arsenal football gear. We suddenly remembered that White Hart Lane was the home of Tottenham Hotspurs.
The entire street seemed generally empty as it would be on a regular weekday night… except that there were generators pumped up, lights-a-blazing, a weird kind of anticipation, crackling in the silence. Hotdog vendors waiting by far-too-brightly lit carts, distractedly joking with one another, giving us the feeling that they were still waiting for the main event to occur. Huge crowd control barriers and road closures and men and women dressed in neon high-visibility jackets waiting every few metres. Yet the streets remained disturbingly empty.
We asked one of the men in the neon jackets what was going on. He told us a match was underway and expected to end in half an hour. So we thought we would hit the pub before we were hit by an avalanche of people.
A few minutes after the game had ended, fans started filing into the pubs for drinks and their fix of greasy foods, the DVD sellers swinging into full gear. Before it reached its peak we decided to leave the pub.
Next to it the pub was a massive, slightly terrifying store full of Tottenham Spurs branded merchandise, encompassing almost every imaginable type of ordinary household object you could imagine – babies’ clothing, crockery, toys, lacy garters, speakers, garden gnomes, staplers, furniture, curtains, wallpaper, etc…
Everywhere outside you could se these strange proclamations of Tottenham’s “Sport-led regeneration”, which strikes me as a bizarre way to describe how one would want to develop or grow an area or a community; in an area which appears to me as a big stadium carpark and hotdog stand for a massive multi-million-dollar valued football club. How does “sport-led” regeneration even work? I’m really not quite sure. What is sport and why is he or she leading it, or who decided he or she should lead the regeneration? The plans for the building of these stadiums and new extensions to sports infrastructure involve demolition of existing buildings and local businesses; the displacement of normal businesses and communities for more and more of the footballs and the footfalls.
So, to those who haven’t been to this part of Tottenham, its like a funny alternative sport-centric universe in which all those fancy cafes and gastropubs and pricey restaurants that are usually found in gentrified parts of London are instead replaced by an ubiquitous swath of manly disportments; of chicken and chip shops, sporting merchandise outlets and stands, betting shops, and football bars where all other popular forms of entertainment are replaced by an epiphanic chanting crescendo of FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL!
But fear not, not all in Tottenham was so homogeneously football. We ventured into a rental wedding hall with a curiously empty reception desk. At the end of the long hallway there were a few children in party dresses sitting and playing at the foot of a lush red carpeted stairway going up. Children playing on their own is always a sign that it must be a friendly space (either that, or an elaborate trap). When I walked to the end, there was an incredible sound of festive drums and some sort of intense traditional music coming from the hall just beyond…