Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Good grief, did I last post on 16th November? Oh well. My excuse is that we've just exchanged contracts on our new house, which has been a bit of a distraction, and has rather put me off writing, blogging, responding to emails, and communicating with the rest of the human race generally.
In fact I thought it might be an opportune moment to say something about where I live, seeing that we won't be here much longer.
Unless you know London reasonably well you may not even have heard of Leytonstone. It's the kind of place people move away from. In fact no end of famous people seem to have been born here or passed through the place - King Harold II Godwinson and Alfred Hitchcock to name but two - but they didn't stay. (To the best of my knowledge the only celebrity we have now is Meera Syal, though I'm not absolutely sure she's still here). Still, I've been here 13 years, and all other things being equal would quite happily stay on. (Of course all other things aren't equal: we need a bigger house, better schools, and all the other things families apparently have to have to survive in the early 21st Century....) I'll be very sad to leave, and here are my 10 reasons why actually Leytonstone is a great place to live:
1. Fairly personal to me, I suppose, but if you write about an urban civilisation like Aztec Tenochtitlan, then you really have to live in a big city like London to get a feel for it.
2. We have better food. Indian, Bengali, Thai, Japanese, Nigerian, Caribbean, Chinese, you name it, it's all in walking distance, and most of them deliver... not to mention the Eel & Pie House!
3. You can get a bus, a tube or a train to anywhere, anytime. Where we're going they don't even run buses on a Sunday.
4. It's pretty safe. Of course there are gangs - they carve out territories according to postcodes, apparently, which is why you sometimes see "E11" or "E15" spray painted on walls. But they keep themselves to themselves and I don't know of anyone getting caught in the crossfire. I've been to small market towns in the shire counties and seen people openly dealing in drugs, but never run into it here.
5. It's a melting pot. Every wave of immigrants seems to hit Leyton and Leytonstone first, and they all seem to find a place easily enough. It can be unnerving, I suppose, but I find it exhilerating, not to mention enlightening. For instance I have talked to people who make their living dealing with "diversity" issues who have no idea that there is a significant number of South Africans working here now. Shows how much they know, when every shopkeeper in this part of London sells Boerwurst, Biltong and Bunny Chow!
We're going is pretty much stereotypical home counties suburbia. Boring. I'm already looking forward to the day when we can sell up and come back...