My Facebook feeds are currently full of friends waxing lyrical about the joys of coastal living, having fled London for the simple life. Me? I’m not quite there yet. London’s where I was born and grew up and as a West Londoner I’ve not strayed far from my childhood stomping ground.
In particular I’m passionate about the pocket of London where Portobello meets Golborne Road. This little local stretch is relatively unknown by the masses. You won’t find hordes of tourists and bloggers descending here for their selfies and outfit posts, but you will find a genuine melting pot of character and style.
You can people watch in the flea market, pick up an antique mirror from Les Couilles du Chien, delight in the curiosities of Kokon To Zai, and make a pilgrimage to Rellik, the famous vintage store that specialises in collectable Westwood, Galliano and Comme. Foodies can enjoy a Palestinian feast at Maramia, fish & chips at George’s or queue up for a pastel de nata at Lisboa, the Portuguese coffee shop that’s a local institution.
It’s no secret that I’m a bookaholic and I love reading oral histories and biographies about underground movements, pop culture and subcultures. Off the top of my head I can enthusiastically recommend Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil, Edie an American Biography by Jean Stein, The Last Party by Anthony Haden Guest* and Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-71 by Jonathon Green as fascinating, insightful reads. One I hadn’t heard of is Berlin Bromley by Bertie Marshall, a book I read about on this blog.
Marshall was one of the Bromley Contingent, a group of suburbanites which included Siousie Sioux amongst their number who were key players in the early London punk movement. This book documents his growing up in gloomy seventies suburbia and the drug-addled years that followed. (Not a lighthearted read then…)
*Actually this one is rather hard work as the story (about the rise and fall of New York’s nightlife in the 70s) does have so many twists, turns and characters but it’s a worthwhile read to dip into and get a feel for the hedonistic goings-on of the era.