I grew up and was schooled in north London, so Camden Town played a big part of my adolescence during the 90’s. For many kids of my generation, grunge may have died along with Kurt Cobain, but Brit Pop gave us a new role model and hope for our future.
Back then only the rich kids had MTV, and there was no internet, but hanging out in Camden on a Saturday afternoon gave us all the popular culture we could handle. The slightest suggestion that Morrisey, Brett Anderson and Jarvis Cocker were a regulars in the Edinboro Castle was enough to keep us coming back week after week. And the on-going debate over who was better, Blur* or Oasis, can still get a thirty-something on their soap box today.
Dodgy noodles, bootleg cassette tapes, sterling silver nose studs and army surplus gear - these were the accessories that made us feel like maybe one day we might grow up to be Graham Coxon or Louise Wener. Or at least do something of note with our lives.
Nearly 15 years later I find myself back in Camden working for a PR agency just a stone’s throw from the tube station. If you’d have told me that back in 1994 I wouldn’t have believed you, or even have known what PR was.
I’m told that there was a fire in Camden Market in 2008, and so today the market has been rebuilt and regenerated for the new generation. The noodles are less dodgy now, the chains have moved in and Cyber Dog is no longer a pop up market stall in a railway arch, but that’s progress for you.
But wandering around the market at the weekend I was relieved to find that the soul, the spirit of Camden as I remember it (albeit through rose tinted glasses) is still alive and well. Joss sticks and feather boas are still selling like hot cakes and the people that work on the stalls are still experts at finding treasures from rare vinyl to vintage platformed shoes - and are only too pleased to share stories about the local area.
Tessellation might not be immediately obvious in the architecture of the area, but I wanted to post a blog about a part of London that has influenced me more than any other. Resisting the temptation to make a cheesy analogy about the rich mix of people who tessellate with each other, instead I leave you with a few images that sum up one of London’s greatest towns and the invitation to come and experience it in person.
*Blur are better, obviously.