David Cockney works out of the East End. As yet undiscovered, this British artist enjoys the customs and lifestyle of old school Londoners. Whelks – with David Cockney is a wry look at life in a London boozer. Most pubs in the UK (if not closed down) have morphed into ‘gastro – pubs’ where food is now more significant than drink.
Flock wall paper, comfy velvet seats, snugs, etched glass, tobacco smoke and wrought iron bar surrounds have been supplanted with a new – lean, keen and financially productive style. No longer a ‘womb’ into which people can retire from the tumult of the World – pubs are currently decorated in an assortment of Farrow and Ball greys – reflecting the colourless society inhabiting them.
Carpets which used to absorb sound, have been stripped out in favour of noise enhancing wooden floors. In fact, anything adding to the intolerable din of the ‘modern pub’ must be included. Now they are designed to amplify screaming kids, barking dogs and screeching harpies – a cosmopolitan melange of’mix-it-up’ yah-yahs – fresh out of the ad-man’s dull brain , that’s yer London boozer a la mode.
Once upon a time, public houses were the place where people went to drink and socialise. No more. A pub crawl today would inflame national obesity stats. Whereas it was customary to consume a pint of beer in each hostelry en route – the present day equivalent is to scoff down meals instead.
Whelks – with David Cockney: set against a back-drop of framed Velasquez reproductions hung over flock wall paper – remembers a freer society where enjoying yourself in public was customary. Mr. Cockney (not to be confused with that other geezer what lives up North), likes natter, bar snacks with a ‘King Lear’ plus a few Harry Raggs (Fags) in the process.
Dave’s local, The Crown and Thistle, is run by a landlord known as ‘Ginge’ on account of his hair colour (his real name is Bert). The wildlife at this watering- hole come there mainly for the booze! Bar snacks are a secondary consideration. However, an old alley cat known as ‘Fishy George’ keeps shop outside. George wears a white coat and straw hat, purveying fine sea-food from a wicker basket. Attending tables and seats in the pub’s dark interior – he sells winkles, cockles, mussels, jellied eels and …..
Bert’s favourite tipple is a pot of whelks. A much overlooked source of protein for the lesser classes of London, whelks are an acquired taste and you need decent ‘Corns’ to tackle em. Whelks avoid being swallowed, dodging about the palate – which is where beer comes in. A ‘King Lear’ will see you through the most stubborn of ‘Escargots de Mare’. Go on, try one!
Whelks supplied by The Fish Society