Monday, 18 June 2012
Okay, I admit it – I don’t really know London like the back of my hand. For a start, London is quite a bit bigger than my paws and eleven years is nowhere near long enough to explore every nook and cranny. However, I do like to think that I know certain corners of the city pretty well.
I lived near Oval for about four years before moving to Islington and l used to think that I had nearby Brixton pretty much sussed – where to eat (the noodle bar on Coldharbour Lane), where to dance (Living Room), best place for a tipple (Ritzy Cinema bar) where to find something to read (the second hand book shop on Coldharbour), high street clothes (Selbys), quirky accessories (Joy) and gifts (the tiny shop on Station Road). Whatever your want or need, I could point you in the right direction.
Or so I thought.
On Friday I arranged to meet a friend at Brixton Village Market. My first surprise as I turned down Coldharbour Lane was that my old Saturday night haunt Living Room was no more. Bummer. My second surprise was less of a disappointment – in fact, it was something of a revelation. When I lived down south, I dismissed the Village Market as somewhere that offered nothing more than a few fruit and veg stalls and couple of dodgy take-away units. How wrong could I be? Crammed with shops full of quirky clothes and accessories for yourself and your home, bars, cafes and restaurants, I was seriously impressed – and slightly sore that I had not discovered it sooner. I met my friend Laura who had just popped into Brixi where she sells her funky greetings cards (and where fellow crafty-chick Pippa sells her fabulous flying women) and wandered around for a bit before heading to Franco Manca for arguably the best pizza in London – and an alternative to the usual Udon soup.
So, even if I do manage to turn over every proverbial stone in every street of all 32 boroughs, I still won’t really know London. It’s constantly changing, a chameleon of a city that always keeps its inhabitants guessing. There’s no space to get bored when the view from your office transforms before your very eyes. And I guess that’s why, even though it drives me mad with its extortionate rent, flagging public transport system and general disdain for anyone and anything, I’m still here.