Cave of Forgotten Dreams

FILLED WITH MYSTERY
FILLED WITH MYSTERY

Yes, it is a Werner Herzog reference. Lovely One bought me tickets to an evening with Monsier Herzog at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster last week and it was amazing. My favourite quote? “You should respect the bear. But you must NEVER love the bear.”

Anyway, this is totally a post about Lewisham. More accurately – one of the scariest shops in Lewisham. I’m talking, of course, about Aladdin’s cave.

Perched next to the railway tracks up on Loampit Hill, this reclamation-yard-cum-tat-warehouse-cum-fire hazard is beyond description. So naturally I’ll try.

First off – on the approach, you pass what I can only describe as a “Havisham House” – a proper old fashioned scary-looking place with broken windows, crazily-painted walls and the most horrifying mouldering plaster heads I’ve ever seen gracing a doorway. In a way, in a part of London which is rapidly looking set to be gentrified, I’m glad it exists. I feel like it’s worth preserving as an example of the sort of place you’d still find in Camden or Chalk Farm 10 years ago. A miasma of decay and earth hung off it and there was a certain dank gloom about the place. I shuddered but couldn’t help smiling as I imagined a frail figure in a decaying wedding dress lurking beyond the tattered curtains.

In Lovely One's words: "If it wasn't on the main road I wouldn't go near it. Looks like murderers live in it."
In Lovely One’s words: “If it wasn’t on the main road I wouldn’t go near it. Looks like murderers live in it.”
Terrifying bowed wall - seriously, I didn't feel safe leaving the car near it.
Terrifying bowed wall – seriously, I didn’t feel safe leaving the car near it.

Filled with a delicious sense of foreboding, we wandered into le cave. “Cave” is the right description, incidentally. The pavement outside is festooned with some of the more accessible bits of furniture, and from there you wander into what appears to be a yard, but covered over. Every available corner is stuffed full of odds, sods and even a one-armed bandit.     Under the canopy of bristling chair legs, a few standout horrors pop out hither and thither :

ALL the tat
ALL the tat
It goes on forever
It goes on forever
A forest of chairs
A forest of chairs
AAARRRGGGHHH!
AAARRRGGGHHH!

Finally, we made our way into the back where we found literally hundreds of sinks, tiles and old radiators, and a rather grumpy fox. But the sheer number of “things” overwhelmed us. We found ourselves accompanied primarily by other gawkers, taking photos and wondering where to start with all the stuff. It’s rather like a hoarder has found a means of monetising their addiction, albeit only semi-successfully. Retreating into the interior of what looks like a shed, we found a roaring fire and a room filled with chandeliers and an ENORMOUS vase.

It's hard to get a sense of perspective, but this vase is easily 8 ft tall.
It’s hard to get a sense of perspective, but this vase is easily 8 ft tall.

Round the corner were easily around 800 picture frames, filled with pub menus and photos and maps and goodness knows what else, but so crammed and jammed that you couldn’t get a peep at them without removing a few dozen to start with. There were also a few things that raised the eyebrows:

A bag full of clinical waste. That looks totally safe and normal.
A bag full of clinical waste. That looks totally safe and normal.

Overall? A great place to waste a few hours and nab a bargain. But the overwhelmingness of it defeated me on this occasion. A sunny day and time to spare, a mate to lift things, a crisp fifty in your back pocket and a large van? You just might get your wishes in Aladdin’s cave, young one.

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