Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Intro

Where do I live? Where are my five streets? I’ve thought about this for a while, actually for quite a while… my five streets are not that exciting, I think, but that could be because I’ve lived in the area for all of my life (33 years and 8 months to be precise).

The neighbourhood has changed quite a lot over the years though, but there is still that underlying nitty gritty neighbourhood that I grew up in. I live in a place called Hackney in London. Most people who live in London have heard of it but for all the wrong reasons. It has a bad rap, my beloved Hackney. People always have an opinion on Hackney and generally they’re bad. They listen to all the bad things and add their own. I personally love living here. I love that I grew up in a neighbourhood where I was exposed to so many different cultures from as far back as I can remember. Not much is ‘odd’, ‘weird’ or ‘foreign’ to me. Some things may be different but not in a ‘yuck’ way. I put this down to the amazing place that I grew up in. It’s made me respect everyone (within reason!) and made me want to visit the places that my school friends visited during our long summer holidays.

I’ve lived in my flat for two years with my other half. We bought the flat then with the intention of only staying for two years and yet here we are, two years later, still loving living there with absolutely no intention of leaving.

Our flat backs onto the flats that I grew up in - these wonderful (but tiny) industrial dwellings that were built in the 1800s for workers in the area. During the 70s all the flats were rented, no-one actually owned one and why would they even want to?! That was the attitude back then. However, these small little flats that I lived in with my sister, my parents and a variety of animals now cost an arm and a leg, or about £200,000(!) but they seem to sell like hot cakes. I love that I can look out of my kitchen window and see the entrance to my Nan’s old flat and if I stand on tip toe I can see my uncle’s old living room window. A lot of my immediate family lived in these flats during the 70s and 80s because they were all originally from a place in the North East of England some 300+ miles away so I think they felt safe surrounding themselves with their loved ones when so far away from home.

Anyway, the flat I live in overlooks the flats that I lived in from 0–13 and I loved living there, so being so close now makes me feel happy whenever I look over there. I guess these flats can be classified as one of my five streets.

The area that I live in has always been a real mixture of many, many nationalities and this has had an impact on the shops in the area. If I walk out of my flat I am already on a main road, which has its positive and negative aspects. There is a women only gym that used to be a synagogue. This is a major selling point to the women in the area who live in a two car household with babies who sit in three wheeler buggies. It costs £660 a year to be a member and it’s really only for the women who have too much time and money on their hands. A lot of things in my area are like this now; everything is catered towards the people who are ‘new’ to the area. It’s been regenerated to within an inch of its life!

Anyway, back to the street outside my building. There is a Turkish bakery that does these amazing Turkish cakes that I love and these tasty jam tarts that have the perfect amount of jam in them (not too much, not too little). Next door to that is a record shop. A real bona fide record shop that sells vinyl! There is just the one guy who seems to own the shop. It’s been there for years and the owner belongs to a sound system called Glady Wax and I love walking slowly past and hearing the music thumping out onto the street. The heavy bassline carries me the last few yards to my flat.