I lived in the East End most of my life after leaving Leeds at 19. I used to play football with Terry Kray, the Kray twins’ nephew; he was all right once your got past his lineage. A very close mate of mine, his dad was the twin’s chef at one stage, not a cockney himself mind a Geordie and a Newcastle fan to the day he died. I lived down Headlam Street in Bethnall Green behind the Brewery that is now a Sainsbury's. The Blind Beggar, scene of the infamous shooting, is a spit away. I knew a lot of local villains, thing was that most of the white working class there where into something even if it was only regular receiving. The pub I drank in was like a "hooky gear" cash and carry, mountain bikes, stereos, TV's. They were old school in their villainry mind, the gear that moved through the place was all boxed, new, and boosted of some truck or loading wharf. Heaven help any young lad who turned up with a stereo nicked from somebody's house, "a right kicking" would be administered to instruct him in the finer points of thievery.
Major problem I had with cockneys then and now is for most of them their reaction to bother is to gang up. They see nothing wrong with half dozen lads having a pop at one and even proud of the “kicking” or “shoeing” they’ve administered. They are a lot less inclined to duel man to man. The flip side to this is they’re generally wary of anybody from the North. Bristling in a Northern accent will generally given them pause, Geordie accents particularly have them spoiling their calvins.
The lad who’s dad cheffed for the twins was most amused to be told by me and a mate another lad from Leeds that he was our only cockney mate. This was in 1991, we moved to London in 1984! As I said though his old man was Geordie so he wasn’t fool blood cockney.
It’s changed and is changing the East End. Yes there are a lot of yuppies moving in driving up property prices, and yes a lot of the old east end is disappearing. Generally though, people who think it’s a bad thing never lived there. Either that or they lived in a loft in Hoxton or a couple of years post millennium before moving to the suburbs.
Fascista, Communista, Tory Boy or Labourista, come and view the whole damn vista, om pom push