Editor’s comment: Manze’s really is a loss, but there is hope

Dennis cracked the 'biggest smile in ages' after visiting his favourite pie and mash shop, Manze's.

Dennis cracked the 'biggest smile in ages' after visiting his favourite pie and mash shop, Manze's. - Credit: Archant

I’ll admit I welled up the first time I read about Dennis Elmore.

Dennis’s smile when he visited Manze’s for his favourite meal was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Alzheimer’s has robbed him and his family of so much, yet this memory of Islington still burns brightly.

It’s not just Dennis who feels a connection to Manze’s. For those who grew up with it, who have spent their lives in Chapel Market or shared special meals there, it is a link to their own pasts.

Nostalgia can be a mask for prejudice – for anti-progressive opinions and for attitudes that have no place in 2017. It can be an outright lie: that times were better in the past because we could leave our front doors open, even though it was also acceptable to beat children in public and illegal to be gay. It can be co-opted by those who want to blame minorities for the failings of government: the country we remember is disappearing because of immigration, they say, conveniently omitting to mention that the rights and institutions of the working class have been systematically eroded by rich policymakers, not by Polish nurses or Syrian refugees.

But it is OK to feel sad for the end of an era, and Dennis’s touching story demonstrates why Manze’s is such a loss. Islington is changing, but it is totally wrong for people or communities to be left behind or pushed out.

When Lydia Manze died in 1985, it was down to East Ender Colin Hall to take over. The hard work of the business in the years since has ensured Manze’s still has a legacy to protect. Business rates are high but if the community wants (and visits) a pie shop, I believe it should be possible to run one. The council can help by heeding the cultural significance of the shop when considering any future applications. And we can help by supporting Chapel Market and shopping and dining locally.

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