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camden blog

"Camden buzzes; the nature of the buzz may change, it may continually evolve,
sometimes it may be louder than
other times, but the buzz is
always there"

 
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news... news...news...ne

The real Withnail
and I

Camden origins
of the cult classic
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Palmistry in Camden



Gary Markwick is camden's leading palm reader - visit him at Camden Lock Market
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Jude Rawlins
a new voice for camden
Mouthing off

Somewhere in the teeming metropolis a lone figure sits hunched over his trusty typewriter, the burden of the task before him lying heavy on his heart. For long-time Camden resident Jude Rawlins has had greatness thrust upon him - and thus Camdenblogger is born. When he's not running his Camden-based record company, Electric Label, or singing in his band Subterraneans, you'll find him fulfilling his new role as the voice of Camdenguide. Many are called but few are chosen...

I tire of the "new" Camden versus "old" Camden argument. Not because I think those who long for the glorious heyday are wrong, but simply that it's a personal and somewhat one dimensional view of the place. Which "old" Camden? Graham Coxon's? Steve Strange's? Jonathan Miller's? Walter Sickert's? William Blake's?

Peter Ackroyd sums it up well in his London Biography; the city is a behemoth, an immortal monster, it out-manoeuvres any town planning, any redevelopment, any attempt to sanitise it or tame it. And, deep down, this is exactly why we love it so much. Camden buzzes; the nature of the buzz may change, it may continually evolve, sometimes it may be louder than other times, but the buzz is always there, always audible no matter what progress attempts to throw at it. And the progress of Camden has always been a fascinatingly untidy one.

Right now, as work continues apace on the Roundhouse's new annex, right next door work has recently been completed on an utterly foul Barratt homes development, putting a residential block right within earshot of the building that will hopefully soon regain it's title as one of the greatest venues in the world. We already know what happens next. Fashionable yuppie couples, hip young things with too much money, will move into the apartments so that they can be right in the thick of the action. But within two years they'll get sick of being right in the thick of the action, they won't be able to stand the relentless pace of Camden's rapid heartbeat, or they'll have babies, something will undermine their masterplan. They will start to complain, realise they are fighting a battle they cannot win, and bugger off to Brighton, while the Barratt apartments fall into inevitable disrepair, until everyone else gets sick of them, and they are redeveloped. The cycle starts over.

"We already know what happens next. Fashionable yuppie couples, hip young
things with too much money, will move into the apartments so that they
can be right in the thick of the action"

Camden, like a lot of London, but unlike anywhere else save perhaps areas of Paris and New York, does not adapt to serve us, but we to serve it. Camden doesn't obey, it commands. Even the small changes are quickly noticed and assimilated. For example, Pret a Manger moving into the old Olympic Café building - there were squawks of protest at the idea of such a generic chain shop should move into a part of the High Street defined by it's uniqueness and individualism, surely such endeavours should remain in their designated place, south of the tube station? But its only a sandwich shop, it really doesn't matter. I am sure that Jonathan Miller will vehemently disagree with me, but then his take is no more valid than my own. What of the Camden eatery where William Blake used to stop off on his regular walks between Soho and Hampstead? This was the time of Mad King George, when we might assume the place that served Blake his favourite ale cake resembled Mrs. Miggins' Pie Shop from "Blackadder". Who mourns for it? Neither Jonathan Miller, nor myself. Yet if it still existed I am sure we could both be found there.

To my knowledge, there is nowhere left that serves traditional Camden Ale Cake, indeed the only place left that still sells traditional Camden Cheese Steaks is the takeaway between the station and the Electric Ballroom. But I've never eaten one, and even if I did I wouldn't know if it was the genuine article, would I?

We love it anyway. We love Camden precisely because, like T.S. Eliot's Rum Tum Tugger, it will do as it do do, and there's no doing anything about it.

Jude Rawlins


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