Fuck Time Out is a series profiling the caf’s, barber shops, family-owned Italian’s and old man pubs that, against the odds, are standing strong against the real-estate tycoons of London.
By Megan St Clair
My favourite memory of the Palm Tree in Mile End is going there while the football World Cup Final was on. We went because the Palm Tree wouldn’t be showing it because the Palm Tree has no screens. We spent a wonderful evening chatting to a variety of people about the reasons why football is basically nonsense. The Palm Tree is a top joint.
The Palm Tree is located in a sort of weird end-of-terrace-but-the-rest-of-the-terrace-is-not-there building (to use the technical architectural term) by the canal in Mile End Park. A bit further up this park joins the lovely, terribly chic Victoria Park and a bit further down it runs into the sanitised wealth of Canary Wharf. Back when I lived in London’s Mile End, this area was amidst a battle between high-rise luxury apartments and soulless student accommodation and, well, places like the Palm Tree. And, I fear me, we have lost the battle. Apparently the Palm Tree is for sale.
Now, I could go on a rant about gentrification and the like and blame the hipsters and the beards and the ironic 80s jumpers or whatever they’re wearing these days. I could rail against Time Out and its utter shiteness (I will never get back those awful, confused minutes of stumbling around whatever the fuck that monstrosity is that they’ve created in Lisbon) but this is just capitalism at work. The Palm Tree, to my albeit ignorant eye, seemed to be doing pretty well when I would frequent it. It was a popular pub and was usually busy at the weekend. But it’s worth more to developers than we could reasonably expect the owners to refuse. I’d probably take the money in a heartbeat myself, in their shoes.
I don’t have a quick solution to all of this but I do think we should be asking what the fucking point of having a fancy flat anywhere will be if all that’s available are chain pubs and restaurants. What I would advise you to do is go to the Palm Tree right now. Take the most annoying Carluccio’s-eating fool people you know, buy a pint and maybe some crisps and sit and weep together for what we stand to lose.
Weep for the weekend jazz, weep for the sight of elderly men being asked to dance by tipsy young women wearing fashionable clothes. Weep for the fact that the bar no longer enforces but retains the structure of separate bars for either different football supporters or for men and women (I feel like I’ve heard both versions and been equally convinced by each). Weep for the flocked wallpaper and for the ancient till. Weep for no fucking TV screens. Weep for a barman who once responded to a young, hip lad’s request for chips by telling him there was a casino down the road and then cracked his shite laughing for a good thirty seconds. Weep for the metaphorical and literal horror of an old, beautiful building, the only one on its street to survive the Blitz, being swallowed by a sea of glass and concrete.
My beloved Palm Tree, if this is goodbye, then so long, old friend. May we live to see your like again.
Editor’s note: The Palm Tree is not closing, we called the landlord and he said “Utter rubbish. Probably some nutter who we barred. We’ll be open for many, many years love – don’t you worry.” We <3 The Palm Tree.