No sooner do I press publish on my previous post than my email pings with bad news from the front. Lorinda Freint, the Clapham Junction town centre manager, had also raised the issue of the store being nowhere near Clapham and got this reponse:

Thank you for taking the time to email ASDA regarding our Clapham Junction store.

I am sorry to learn of your disappointment as you believe we are incorrectly naming our store.

I have followed this important issue up with Mick Beck the General Store Manager, who has confirmed that the store has always been called ‘Clapham’. As the store is just off the Junction we believe it is valid to call the store by its current title. We also feel if we were to change the stores name, it would lose some of stores current identity.

I will happily pass your comments onto the Suggestions Team who can consider this matter further for you.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us, please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Kind Regards
David Raggett
ASDA Service Team

The Stalinist approach to revising history is astonishing. Given that they themselves rebranded their store two years ago reveals a shocking lack of self-awareness.

Airbrush, airbrush, airbrush: Pictures like this are being touched up in Asda's Department of Truth as you read

They themselves have in the past accepted the store is in Battersea. They changed their branding. But now a new manager knows better.

I can’t help but find it incredibly patronising to be told by someone in Leeds that we don’t know where we are. As if local people, supposedly their customers, are so moronic we do not know where we live or what our area is called. Nor have memory enough to recollect (or just dig out the photographic evidence) that their assertion is at best a reflection of being too lazy to check and at worst a blatant lie.

If they can’t be bothered to even look at their own website to see that even they still refer to it as Clapham Junction in Battersea it makes you wonder how much effort they put into anything else. There’s clearly an attitude that the customer is always wrong, and a little tiresome.

It occurred to me that I’d not provided any update on the naming of the Lavender Hill Asda store.

And the updates are actually quite exciting.

I replied to the email to me that suggested that the store is in Clapham whatever I thought. I also spoke (via Twitter if that’s a real conversation) to one of their PR team (@dom_asdapr) who suggested that ‘Junction’ is implied, or at least it was when he lived in Tooting eight years ago. He further suggested that if there is concern they could put something about it on their blog and rename it based on the response.

If it comes to the latter, since geography is not a matter of fact but the opinion of the internet people, I’m going to campaign for it to be named after the ice planet Hoth. They’d need tauntaun parking too.

While I’ve not had any further responses several others who wrote to them have posted their, far more positive, responses on Streetbook.

Biscuit wrote asking exactly where in Clapham the store was (having seen their posters) because he wasn’t aware of any Asda stores in the Clapham area. They responded:

The poster was referring to the ASDA store at Clapham Junction, the store we have is in Battersea. We don’t have another store in Clapham.

Micky G and Gail both had the same response to their complaint:

The Marketing Team have come back to me regarding your complaint in connection with Clapham Junction.
This is an oversight on our behalf and the marketing will be changed immediately.

It seems there’s three different positions:

  1. They are in Clapham
  2. They are in Battersea
  3. They don’t know and will ask

But option two is probably the winner. The responses that Asda is in Battersea were fairly clear, and I’m not you can put much store in a late night Twitter conversation with someone in PR (sorry people in PR). I’m just not going to say anything about the email I got.

Is it too early to call this a victory for the people of Battersea? I’m not sure, however, I’m impressed at what could be achieved by just a few people, with the facts on their side, getting together on a website and taking up an issue with a corporate giant may achieve. Dare I call it an example of the Big Society? Yes. Yes, I dare!

I had a response from Asda following my complaint about them branding their Lavender Hill store ‘Clapham’.

Hello James.

Thank you for contacting ASDA about the name we have given to our ASDA Clapham store.

I’m sorry to learn of your disappointment at ASDA naming the store Clapham instead of Battersea. I can assure you ASDA welcome all customers, whatever there background. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone with the name of the store.

Having spoke to the General Store Manager, he confirmed the store is in Clapham, this is the reasoning for the name of the store. Also if we were to change the name of the store it would lose it’s identity in the local area.

Again, I’m sorry to hear of your disappointment, I hope all your points have been covered in this email. If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards

Will Hayton
ASDA Service Team

I only moved to Battersea 13 (fourteen, if you round up) years ago so I’m quite happy to admit I’ve been wrong all this time and have somehow fooled myself into…

Hold it. No. Of course I’m not wrong. Even as a relative newcomer I have seen enough evidence, both objective and subjective, to know I live in Battersea and the Asda store is in Battersea. Of course areas change, but not at the whim of one person (unless Wal-mart have staged a coup d’etat I missed and their manager is now some sort of regional governor). I could pretend I’m typing this in Manhattan. Or on the moon. But that doesn’t make it so.

Happier times: 2008, when people knew where they were
I will be replying to Asda, but decided to hold off my reply to calm a little. The odd thing is that the more time passes the angrier I get about Asda’s attitude.

I’d love to know the manager’s connection with the area prior to managing the store. Very often in retail the managers (because of the nature of their career progression) manage stores some distance from their home – this is particularly true in London where moving can be expensive. But even putting that aside…

Has he had a chat with one of my neighbours who obviously mistakenly believes she has lived in Battersea for the best part of 80 years – all that time a few hundreds yards from the store (or the railway yard that preceded it).

Or perhaps he’s raised it with the council, who – in 2008 – mistakenly passed a motion that highlighted SW11 is Battersea (opens PDF).

I’m sure he’s popped into the Royal Mail delivery office next door to the store and told them how wrong they are to call themselves the Battersea Office. And while he was at it had a word with Battersea Library and Battersea Arts Centre. I can only imagine how foolish they must all have felt having the wrong names all these years.

And I’m sure they’ve had a chat with their press office and the previous store manager. Pointing out their total ignorance when in 2008 they changed the name of the store to reflect it’s true location of Clapham Junction, Battersea.

It seems an age ago, in the early days of this blog, that I celebrated Asda ‘moving’ to Battersea. Unfortunately it appears they have decided Battersea isn’t for them, and have moved back to Clapham.

Following the lead of a few on Streetbook I’ve complained to Asda about this using their contact form. Here’s what I said:

I’m disappointed that following your recent refurbishment of your SW11 store you decided it brand it Asda Clapham.

It’s unfortunate because it isn’t in Clapham, it’s some distance from it. In fact the SW11 postcode puts you firmly in the heart of Battersea (the post office neighbouring your store, or the Battersea Delivery Office, would be happy to confirm, I’m sure).

What makes it doubly disappointing is that it’s less than two years since you responded to local complaints and named the store ‘Clapham Junction, Battersea’ to accurately reflect its location.

While I understand the confusion, being near to Clapham Junction, there are several other local landmarks that give away the true location; you can see Battersea Library from your car park. Then there’s Battersea Arts Centre just up the road (it used to be Battersea Town Hall).

‘Clapham Junction’ was a marketing decision. At the time it was built Clapham was seen as more up-market than Battersea, so the Clapham label was attached to help attract development to the area.

But today people are proud to live in Battersea, it’s a much nicer neighbourhood than Clapham. Given the history behind the naming, I can only assume that if you don’t rename it’s because you believe the community you serve is so downmarket you want to avoid association with them! Surely this can’t be true and you have plans to correct the name.

I’ll post any reply I get.

At the back of the children’s section in Waterstone’s Battersea is a fish tank. I only noticed it because MiniMe has taken a sudden interest in fish (more particularly, pointing them out while shouting “fish!”)

In there is Dr Fish. Dr Fish has only one eye, but manages to carry it off with a look of pure malevolence, the likes of which raise him to the level of Bond villain. Indeed, when you consider that any of the other fish could sneak up on him easily by simply approaching from his right it’s clear that he is using fear to rule the tank and keep the other fish in line while he works on his evil masterplan.

The exact nature of his masterplan eludes me. As does the cause of the injury that turned a talented, high-achieving and well-balanced fish into an evil sociopath. But trust me, when he gazes out of that tank with his good eye he’s thinking of nothing short of total domination of the children’s section.

Having said all that, if your taste in literature runs to better imaginations and far, far better writers than me you might be interested in the SW11 Literary Festival (organised in conjunction with Waterstones) and running all this month.

Sort of following on from yesterday. The SW11 Literary Festival launches later today and this year’s competition is to come up with a ‘slogan for Battersea’.

It follows a similar pattern to last year’s Battersea Poems. Text Battslog and the slogan to 07786 202844 (charged at standard rate) or tweet them with a #battslog hashtag.

The best entries will feature in shop windows in Battersea and the overall winner get Waterstone’s voucher and see their slogan used for the next year.

Fortunately my Philistinism has been recognised by the council (perhaps in part because of my involvement with Battersea Poems last year) so I no longer have anything to do with this sort of thing. A good job, because my effort would probably have only been something like “it’s not Clapham, innit.”

I’ve come to terms with being grumpy, even begun to appreciate the advantages it offers, so I make no apologies for my grumpiness about Battersea-deniers.

My latest run-in with them came on Twitter, with Giraffe Restaurant (based on Battersea Rise, Battersea, SW11) who were advertising a quiz night at “Giraffe Clapham”. Being grumpy, and having my grumpiness enhanced by it being morning, I picked them up, and they explained their use of Clapham.

we say clapham so people don’t think it’s deepest darkest battersea- it’s actually closer to clapham

And that astounds me. By that logic we may as well say we live in Croydon, because otherwise people might confuse Battersea, London with central London. It might be close to Clapham, but it’s in Battersea. I’m not sure how telling someone it’s the neighbouring area helps people find something. Surely (and maybe I’m just missing the point of geography here) it’s better to tell them where something actually is, rather than where it’s near.

I’m not na├»ve enough to believe places don’t change (otherwise I’d be claiming to live in Patricesy) but simply denying geography really should be the province of estate agents and no-one else.

I’m aware how it seems advertising a service like this, and I’ve advertised Streetbook before, but while I’ve been away I noticed that it is starting to take off a bit with people starting to post on the forums and a few small discussions starting. It’s a new service, so it’s not there yet, but having met the organisers at Summer in the Square last weekend am quite excited for the prospects for it. But it needs you!

The idea is fairly simple, to create a social network based on your local area, but I’ve never really seen it done in quite this way before. The verification is a bit daunting, but they are working on other ways of verifying your address (which I believe will be ready within weeks, if not days) so you know that you are talking to your actual neighbours. But you can sign up just as an SW11 member without verifying your address, and I’d encourage SW11 folk to do just that to try it out – but most importantly sign in and get involved in the forum.

We might talk about ‘Big Society’, but as a basic concept, making it easy for neighbours to talk to one another can only be a good thing. It would be great to see this working as a place where people from across Battersea, were getting together and talking about the issues that are important to them.

I’ve managed to hear about Streetbook through a few different sources now, and have to say it’s an interesting prospect.

I’ve long been jealous of some of the hyperlocal communities that exist out there (like Harringay Online) and wished that something similar existed here, to the extent of even having informal chats with some of the Harringay people to see how they started them off. But like the good Conservative that I am it seems the market will provide.

While there are services like Battersea People that – to me at least – is still a bit too big to be really really local. Whether Streetbook will fill that gap I don’t know, but I’ve signed up to find out.

It launches next month for SW11, and you can sign up on their website.

[And credit to them for referring to SW11 as Battersea. It shows that they have some local knowledge!]

Sudi Piggott, one of the competition judges, announcing the winners
Sudi Piggott, one of the competition judges, announcing the winners

Last night saw the formal end of the SW11 Literary Festival with the closing event at Recipease in Clapham Junction.

The event itself was fantastic, seeing the announcement of the winners of the recipe competition (which will all be part of a cookbook) along with some great food and company. But I really wanted to congratulate all the people and sponsors involved in festival. It has become part of the local cultural calendar and attracts people to the events from far and wide. If I have any complaint it’s that some of the events weren’t well co-ordinated with my diary (Chris Patten and Mark Thomas both clashed with meetings at the Town Hall) – but that’s something I’ll have to take up with the organisers next year!

One part of the festival is still running, however, and that’s Battersea Poems. There’s still time to text in your entry if the muse strikes!