To paraphrase Lady Bracknell: to have two chip shops nearby is handy, to have three is bad for your cholesterol.
Growing up in Balham we had three very different chip shops (although I wonder why they were called chip shops as chips were such a small percentage of what they sold).
One, in Tooting Bec Road, had built-in entertainment next door where, if you inserted an old penny into a slot, you’d see a model train going around in circles. I hate to think how many minutes I’d spend chewing on a saveloy (a food product basically made up of all the rubbish they don’t put into sausages) watching this toy train go round and round.
A chip shop on Balham High Road was the newest of three within walking distance of my flats, Du Cane Court, and you went there if you wanted to improve your conversational Greek.
But easily the most interesting (for me) was in Chestnut Grove where the wall was covered with West Ham memorabilia.
It was the place where I first learned about exotic football clubs like TSV 1860 München. The Hammers had played and beaten them in the 1964/65 European Cup Winners Cup final and photos of this victory were strewn across the shop; I was about thirteen when I learned that Martin Peters wasn’t actually a type of fish.
I never read a paper as a kid, I never had to, I would always get my news from the back of a piece of rock salmon. It was imprinted back to front and went through my teenage years thinking I’d mastered a foreign language.
Or that Queen Victoria wasn’t dead after all.