A book club at a pub? Only in North London! I was in Kentish Town last month doing research for my novel, NOT CRICKET (A MATCH FOR EVE). Two of my (fictional) characters grew up in this neighborhood. I had to visit the local boozer. I was impressed to find them reading Man Booker Prize literary fiction.
Look inside the Dartmouth Arms. Can you imagine curling up on that leather armchair before the fire with a pint of Adnams in one hand and a novel in the other? Bliss. I could hear my characters talking to me.
How did I find this gem? My husband once lived in this neighborhood. He rented the garden flat in the house with the purple door. Years ago we had gone back to visit, and the memory stayed with me. When I pictured my imaginary families living side-by-side in North London, this was the image that came to mind.
The Kentish Delight Wine Bar (above) looks new, but most of the neighborhood hadn’t changed much in two decades. This is not a posh part of London, but it’s affordable. The high street features row shops selling: greasy kebabs, fish and chips, discount electronics, Middle Eastern carpets, polyester clothing, flimsy furniture etc. North London hosts an ethnic mix and plenty of bohemian intellectuals and artists, like my characters.
The Owl Bookshop has been on the Kentish Town Road since the 1970s. This well-stocked independent bookshop is worth a trip on its own. Maybe one of my characters could own it. I'm browsing.
The low-rise neighborhood has a timeless, gritty quality to it. This isn’t touristy London.
You can imagine having a relationship with the butcher (if you weren’t a Vegan) instead of grabbing cellophaned packages. One change was a butcher advertising “organic” meat and fish. Probably the same stuff, just updated marketing.
For fun you’d go hear the latest indie rock live. Back in the 1980s the hmv forum was the Town and Country. My husband saw Stiff Little Fingers play there.
There has been only a touch of yuppification.
I have to admit to enjoying this new addition: Satuma Japanese Restaurant.
It was a trip down memory lane for my husband. He was a wonderful guide. In order to know characters, I walk the streets of their childhood. I won’t include the entire back story, but I want to understand it.