My First Croydon Experience

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Aug 22nd, 2006
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Ah, Croydon.

Some people say that the best thing to ever come out of Croydon is the A23. But I can’t find it in my heart to glorify an exit route from this fine city.

Indeed, many people across the southeast of England poke fun at Croydon, looking down on it with condescension. Yet, all of these people have a Croydon story, a Croydon experience that they are waiting to share with you, if only you ask. It may be a repressed memory, and you may need to put them under hypnosis in order to get them to talk about it, but their Croydon story is there waiting.

Ever since the walls came down, and East Croydon was reunited with West Croydon, there has been a renaissance spirit uniting all Croydonians. (It may be interesting to note that while there are areas of Croydon still known as East Croydon, West Croydon and South Croydon, there is officially no North Croydon. That is because London is actually North Croydon, renamed after a bitter civil war in 1649.)

But I’ll never forget my first visit to Croydon. I believe it was before the walls came down, and I spent a week in East Croydon.

The trip started off on a bit of a surreal note, as colleagues took me to visit the Commonwealth Secretariat, which was a customer of ours. The Commonwealth Secretariat is like a mini-United Nations, comprised of all of the nations that are still considered to be a part of what was once the Great British Empire … and is now known as the British Commonwealth … an organisation that continues exists primarily so that the Commonwealth Games can be held, so that England has at least an outside chance of winning some type of international sporting event, since they don’t stand a chance playing against real countries.

Anyway, we were invited to a monthly pot-luck dinner/social event that was put on for Commonwealth employees. It was an interesting experience, and an enjoyable evening drinking them out of their supply of duty free Castle Lager at 50 pence each. The Canadian bartender did finally figure out that we wre not the new US delegation to the Commonwealth, but not before we had exhausted his supply of Castle (insert evil laugh here).

Declaring our international drinking mission a success, we returned to Croydon, and upon arriving at East Croydon station decided that there was still time to facilitate several more drinks.

So, we popped into a Croydon local. It was a nice summer’s evening, with several picnic tables outside of a particular pub. Keef, Frenchy and I sat down, and took turns walking back into the pub to get the next round.

After several rounds, an odd little man stumbled up to our table and babbled “You’re not going to let me in there, are you?”


“You’re bouncers right? And you’re not going to let me in there, are you?”

“You can do whatever you like.”

“You don’t like me ’cause I’m from the norf. You’re not going to let me in there.”

“Whatever. If you don’t want to go in the pub, you don’t have to.”

And the little man disappeared into the pub.

About 15 minutes later, he returned to our table. “You don’t like me ’cause I’m from the norf. I could rip your heart out, right where you’re standing.”

We look up at him wondering what this guy is talking about.

“You don’t like me ’cause I’m from the norf. I could rip your heart out, right where you’re standing.”

“Um … excuse me, but we’re sitting down.”

“You don’t like me ’cause I’m from the norf.”

At that point, Keef stands up, and we realize that this little man is less than 4 feet tall … and about half the size overall, compared to Keith’s 6 foot plus frame. Maybe he did think we were standing up all along. Keef gives him a push … and the little man runs off into a waiting car and quickly drives away.

Just a typical night out in Croydon.

Ah, but don’t ask me about Croydon. If you really want to learn more about Croydon, you should check out the Croydon Film Commission web site at There you will learn about Croydon’s “mini-Manhattan skyline”, it’s world renowned reputation as a “mecca for shopping and entertainment”.

Whenever I have a spare moment, you’ll find me with my web browser pointing to the Croydon Film Commission home page, continually hitting refresh so that I will be presented with a new “Croydon Film Fact”. Like this one … “Fact 114: Bill Murray was chased around Croydon in The Man Who Knew Too Much” … in fact, I believe the man chasing him kept screaming, “You don’t like me ’cause I’m from the norf!”

1 Comment

  • Peter


    Your link to Croydon Film Commission doesn’t work! Pity, as I’m struggling to find out anything about Croydon.

    The Borough Council’s website, for instance, has zero info on what’s good and/or interesting about the town and its surrounds apart from a few bare facts; famous places like the Fairfield Halls are only mentioned in passing. and Wikipedia are more helpful.

    Peter Mann