W is for Wombleland, Wimbledon and the west #atozchallenge

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I have to put my hand up and admit to an alphabet failure. Hard though it is to credit for a man of fifty-cough, but when sketching out the topics for each letter of the alphabet I forgot ‘W’. I’m not conscious of being institutionally ‘w’ist but I suppose that is the point – you can’t see it in yourself. So I apologise to all things W.

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As a result I had to decide on a topic pdq. WTF came to mind but that was a cop out. Instead I chose an area of South-West London, which, but for a miserable sclerotic piece of  intestinal zit-paste who gazumped me and the Textiliste back in the mid 80s, might have been our home territory.

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Wimbledon is associated, inextricably with the Tennis. Which is fine and dandy but I’m a bit ‘meah’ about tennis in truth.

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I’ve been to most sporting venues London has to offer but not this one. I like strawberries; I enjoy competition and athleticism; I don’t mind queuing so I should have an urge to visit but I really can’t be arsed.

For me Wimbledon means the following

The Common

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This is excellent.

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Epic even.

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It has a windmill – a windmill museum too – and lakes

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and loads of trees

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and a golf course or two if you like that sort of thing. It attaches itself to Richmond Park making for a delightful stroll and afternoon in what really does pass for proper countryside.

Wimbledon Park

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I like this place. It’s a bit organised to be the best sort of park, but the park cafe is v good and the lake delightful.

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Dog and the local swan-thuggery didn’t exactly see eye to eye

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but that apart I could have spent a while here.

The theatre

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Even though central London and its huge array of theatres are a relatively short train journey away, Wimbledon has its own rather  lovely theatre.

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It is sometime since I went but it has a jolly range of shows (if you ignore the ubiquitous excrescence that is the annual panto).


Yep the Wombles, a staple of TV back in the whenevers. Mike Batt wrote cheesy music – like Bright Eyes for that Rabbit movie – but he wrote this gem, sung by Bernard Cribbens. Really can you imagine anything worse?

But then there was this

Status Quo eat your heart out.

Did you listen all the way through? To both? How sad.

Where were we? It has an excellent children’s theatre, too – The Polka which we visited a lot when our rugrats were of age.

In other news, Wimbledon gave sanctuary the Haile Selassie – the Lion of Judah when the Italians turfed him out in the late 1930s which no doubt gives solace to the community of Rastafarians who revere him. It also reminds me of the old joke:

News Reader: ‘At the UN reception many world leaders attended. One was Haile Selassie, three were Fairly Selassie and the Rest weren’t Selassie at all.’ I wish I could remember where this came from.

Sorry. Moving swiftly on. If you visit Wimbledon you may be confused and disappointed by the proximity of the railway station to the interesting bits. Old Wimbledon, the High Street, the Common and the Tennis are all a mile or so from the Wimbledon Stations – tube, tram and railway.2015-10-01 14.52.35

Wimbledon Park tube station is nearer the Common and Southfields Tube probably nearer the tennis.  That’s pretty typical of the naming of train stations. Random.

I played a lot of rugby around Wimbledon in the 80s and 90s. The ancient coaching inn the Dog and Fox hosted our annual dinner several times. Apparently it is historic and interesting and worthy of a visit, but since my memories of it are coloured by waking up and wondering what possessed me to eat the contents of the cat litter tray instead of the customary kebab I couldn’t face a return.

There’s a fair degree of posh housing hereabouts. Lots of green spaces. It’s a lung for London and, mostly, the people are decent

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even if they call their children Bingo and Bosh, use Gucci toilet paper and have a penchant for asking you to move down the train in the same voice as I guess God used when he told Eve  to stop the scrumping. It’s nice to visit. It has decent coffee shops. I just glad it’s not home.


This is part of the 2016 A to Z Blogging challenge. Please click here to find your way to other participants.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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29 Responses to W is for Wombleland, Wimbledon and the west #atozchallenge

  1. gordon759 says:

    I think David Frost made the Haile Selassie joke in one or other of his programmes, and who are the curiously shaped girls(?) in the statue.


  2. Made me laugh. Especially God on the train. When I first moved to London I shared a flat near Haydon’s Road station. It was still technically Wimbledon but much more like Merton Park than the posh end. It terrified me being out after dark round there. Those endless rows of semis and not a soul out of doors. You could have had your throat cut and nobody would even twitch a knicker curtain.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. davidprosser says:

    I had visions of Ronnie Barker doing the Haile Selassie joke when he was a newsreader on the Two Ronnies show. I never realised Wimbledon was so large

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    Love Wimbledon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sacha Black says:

    Love that u forgot an entire letter! 😂 Teehee

    Liked by 1 person

  6. esthernewton says:

    Love that you’ve included The Wombles’ song!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. OMG… You’re killing me Geoff. Ha!!! Thanks for the lunch-break laughs. I’m delighted that you went back for the Ws. Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Something tells me I understand why you might be a ‘W-ist’ especially if Wimbledon is all there is on offer! [Though the common is lovely] One of my kids started her OE by nannying for a Wimbledon family. She had charge of three kids, one a three month old baby. I asked what the mother did – assuming I think that she did something important to leave her baby in the hands of a raw recruit from NZ. There was a long pause while daughter thought and eventually answered ‘Shopping?’ The question mark indicating even she didn’t really believe it. 🙂

    Memory tells me the wombles were on telly in the mid 70’s for that was when my kids were very young and loved them. I can sing both those womble songs still…….. 🙂 [Yes, it’s sad!]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. stephie5741 says:

    Oh wow. Now I feel like I’ve been to Wimbledon! I’ve been to London, but we spent most of our time at Harrod’s!


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Helen Jones says:

    I enjoyed this post, Geoff – Wimbledon looks lovely. As for the Wombles, Wombling Merry Christmas is a staple of my seasonal playlist, part of being a kid in the seventies I guess 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ali Isaac says:

    Loved the post Geoff… that last line about voice is hysterical! Btw Bright Eyes was just about the only Art Garfunkel song I ever liked, and as my hubby is a fan, I’ve had to listen to a fair few. At least it has actual words as lyrics! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. noelleg44 says:

    Wimbledon has changed a lot since I was last there – Arthur Ashe was commentating and Chrissie and Martina were dueling. I went with my Dad, who played there twice and got to see the inner places. But the entrance, as I recall, was just a gate in a fence! Thanks for showing me what else the area has to offer!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. AJ.Dixon says:

    I grew up in Carshalton, so I spend a bit of time in Wimbledon as a teenager. The first journey there was exciting until I realised, as you rightly say, that there isn’t much worthy of interest near the train station. Except the H&M, which my then-girlfriend seemed to want to spend the entire afternoon in…not a good start.
    I have also worked at the tennis courts when I was a casual for a catering company operating in the area. Never during the actual tennis, though, so I did manage to get a good look around the place. It seemed nice, just not as impressive as I was expecting. Much preferred the parks and green spaces which I walked past after my shift was finished, they were lovely even in the dark.


  14. roweeee says:

    I’ve never forgotten “I’m a Womble” and perhaps that’s why I’ve avoided wearing a bikini.

    Liked by 1 person

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