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Sunday, September 08, 2013

When Wimpy bars ruled the land

They've closed down the Wimpy Bar at Southgate Circus. Sounds like a line from a Springsteen song.

We've lived round here for forty years and while we didn't go in the Wimpy any more we would point it out to the kids and say "that's where we went on one of our first dates". If I remember right we'd been to see 10 Rillington Place at the Odeon. That's not there any more either.

In the days before McDonalds Wimpy bars were all across the land. They were named after a character in Popeye who used to say "if you buy me a hamburger I will gladly repay you Tuesday". Wimpy was a place you ended up in the days when you wanted something quick, when it wasn't really an option to go for a pizza and there were no gastropubs.

Wimpy is twinned in my mind with memories of gigs. We went to see the J. Geils Band play the Lyceum at a "midnight court" show in 1972. Afterwards we ended up in a Wimpy Bar in Coventry Street. Then we walked to Kings Cross and waited for the morning and the first overground train back to Palmers Green. The following day I bought Randy Newman's "Sail Away" at a shop called Harum. When we came home from seeing Van Morrison at the Rainbow we stopped at the Wimpy Bar in Green Lanes partly because it actually had an alcohol licence.

If you ordered a tea and a Wimpy - never a burger, always a Wimpy - they would bring you the tea first. This was always lukewarm so you drank it quickly. By the time your Wimpy arrived you wanted another tea. Cunning.