Reader, should you ever need to provide an example of bias, prejudice or arrogance, read on.
Here’s a question for the apprentice Londoners you are soon to become: what links Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Soho, St James’ Palace, Clarence House [home of Wills, Harry and their dad], Kensington Palace [post divorce home of their late mum], Hyde Park, Covent Garden, Oxford Street, the four Inns of Court [Lincoln's, Gray's, Middle Temple, Inner Temple – where solicitors and barristers are trained], Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Wren churches, the Old Bailey [the Central Criminal Court], the Royal Courts of Justice, Fleet Street [ancient home of the press], the City, 9/10's of the Underground, 11 of the 13 railway termini [including the Eurostar terminus at St Pancras], the Guildhall, Canary Wharf [new home of business], all three Olympic sites [1908, 1948 and 2012], over 150 Embassies and High Commissions, the 73 bus, the major museums [British, V&A, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Science, Natural History, London, Docklands, Soane], all 5 of London’s Premiership football teams, Lords [the home of world cricket], 4 of London’s 5 airports,…? I could go on, but will restrict myself to three more, the Ithaca College London Centre, MY HOUSE and MY CATS! [OK, I know cats own you, not the other way around.] Have you figured out the common denominator yet? Right, they are all in north London because virtually everything that is important in London is north of the river. Sorry, Claire!
Second Question: of the 15 million visitors to London this year, how many have gone south of the river? Is it 1%, 0.5%, 0.75%, or 1.25%? Note well: I am not including the 2 coach loads of Japanese tourists who took a wrong turn in Parliament Square, crossed Westminster Bridge, only to be ambushed by Lambeth authorities demanding to see passports and visas and to inspect luggage for contraband. Since they didn’t have visas, Lambeth authorities imposed a crushing £500 fine on each person and confiscated their coaches, rings, cameras and watches. OK, Ok, I exaggerate, the above is ‘fiction’ [but fiction informs prejudice], but there can be no disputing the fact that the Thames divides London unevenly. The fates have favoured the north; they showered Heavyweight North London with rich and plentiful gifts, while casting only the crumbs to the South.
Ah, Stoke Newington, the ‘new village in the woods’, its housing stock chiefly mid-Victorian, just off the old Roman road running from Bishopsgate in the City to Lincoln and the north, full of trendy up and coming lawyers, teachers, & other professionals, a little Istanbul given the number of Turkish eateries, clubs, flower shops & barber shops in the High and Church streets [immerse yourself by coming up and sampling some ‘Testes’, the actual name of one of or local restaurants], adjacent to Britain’s largest Hasidic community, where football allegiances are split between Tottenham [Spurs] and Arsenal [Gunners or Gooners], where foxes roam the streets and gardens at night, where the bibulous wait outside the Rochester Castle at 10am on Sunday mornings to resume their pint consumption of Saturday night, where house prices are lower because the tube doesn’t go there, where young artists, musicians and gay people live. Stoke Newington, STOKEY or just plain N16 is a microcosm of the diversity, creativity and inner city problems of this FANTASTIC WORLD CITY.
-The only Dog from north of the river (and Elsie)