To some people Balham is a joke as they hurtle through it on the A24 making their way to Gatwick airport, but thousands of people live there in peace and harmony, apart from the raucous weekend night life. Here are ten interesting facts about Balham to pique the curiosity of the cognoscenti.
1, Chestnut Grove, Elmfield Road, Foxbourne Road and Ravenstone School.
There are no chestnuts in Chestnut Grove just as there are no elms in Elmfield Road, but there are foxes rummaging through the bins in Foxbourne Road and many ravens nest in the trees around Ravenstone School. Passers-by are at extreme risk from falling raven's shit.
2. Tooting Bec Lido.
Yes, strictly speaking it's in Tooting but what the hell? It is the largest freshwater swimming pool by surface area in the United Kingdom, being 100 yards long and 33 yards wide. While the shallow end is only six inches deep, the deep end descends to 1,500 fathoms, is frequented by dolphins and is regularly used by the Ministry of Defence for testing nuclear submarines. The lido is just ten minutes' walk across the common from Balham and dates back to 1906 before many houses had bathrooms. Yuk!
3. Balham, Gateway to the South.
To the annoyance of Balham residents, much of Micky Dolenz's 1981 big screen blockbuster "Balham, Gateway to the South" was shot in neighbouring Clapham. The former Monkee intended the film to be his "grand oeuvre", and to become an art house classic. Unfortunately, the censor thought otherwise, and cut the two-hour final scene which featured Robbie Coltrane in Balham's only public toilet with three transgender Polish prostitutes, a Shetland pony and a plentiful supply of kebabs from the nearby Rastafarian takeaway "Kebabylon". The cuts resulted in reducing the film to a 21-minute short, and the end of Dolenz's film career.
4. The Balhamburger.
Balham had the first hamburger restaurant in London and was renowned for its "Balhamburger" which took inspiration from its multi-ethnic community cuisine. Often served with the Balhamburger were golabki (Polish cabbage rolls in tomato sauce), dum aloo (a Nepali spicy, tangy potato side dish) and jellied eels.
5. Wetherspoon's and Balham.
Balham is the only town in the world without a Wetherspoon's pub due to its youthful population and its metropolitan elite hatred of Brexit.
6. Erm...can anyone think of anything else? No?