How places change.
En route to a reunion of old university friends and double birthday celebration in Bromley last night, I had the misfortune to drive through the Catford Gyratory, a town planner's fiendish folly I had hoped to have left behind for good since leaving Lewisham borough in autumn 2002 after 15 months (including what felt like 14 simply stuck in that one-way system...)
Despite giving my address as the more pleasant-sounding Forest Hill, I actually lived almost-exactly equidistant between than train station and Catford in the other direction, so several good-clean-fun-filled Saturday nights were spent losing and winning the odd 50p here and there at Catford dogtrack.
Sorry, that should be Catford Stadium, though the faulty illuminations presented this instead as CATFO DIUM - Latin, presumably, for "Seize the dog"...
Well, this has now unfortunately gone to the, er, dogs, leaving in triumph the 7ft black cat still crawling over the tawdry shopping centre.
I was a little surprised, though, to see a mainstay of Catford's shopping scene was also no more.
Plonked in the middle of that unloved gyratory, the blunt challenged of the Catford Gun Shop was always an arresting sight, especially alongside a more unprepossessing High Street fare of newsagents, fishmongers and Lewisham Council placards promising the dubious attractions of Joe Pasquale and the Nolan Sisters in this year's panto...
But after several decades of doing exactly what is says on the tin - or so I assume, having never set foot inside the shop, despite a certain appalled curiosity - the Catford Gun Shop has given way to an Italian pizza restaurant.
Far be it for me to peddle ethnic stereotypes, but I couldn't help calling to mind the strategic double-use of the pizzeria in Goodfellas, and especially the owner's irritation as rookie Henry Hill treats a gunshot victim bleeding to death on the doorstep...
"You wasted eight fuckin' aprons on this guy. I don’t know what the hell's wrong with you. I got to toughen this kid up..."