How moving from north to south London made me confront all my prejudices

·3-min read
 (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)
(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve undergone a life-changing, highly controversial transition which affects my core identity and how people see me. I’ve transitioned from north London to the saaaarrrff. After almost 25 years in Camden Town (yes I moved there when I was an infant), I have just moved to Brixton.

But when I tell people this news, their jaws hit the floor. When I say people, I mean people from north London who cannot fathom the concept. When it comes to the capital, the north/south divide is well and truly flourishing.

“Are you all right?” “Has something terrible happened? Well clearly it has now.” “Whyyy?” It was like I was moving to Kabul. As I was saying a heartfelt goodbye to some very dear neighbours in Camden, I said: “Will you promise you’ll come visit me in Brixton?” To which the answer was a distinctly cool: “I very much doubt it, dear.” Even my Uber driver on the way to pick up my keys goes to me: “Darling, why did you move south? I just bought nice place in Kentish Town.” But I get it.

As a very recent former north Londoner, I too was steeped in my prejudices against heading south of the river. Did you need a visa? Are taxis even allowed to travel there after dusk? Until I saw the light. And the fact that you definitely get more brick for buck. Despite being a sprawling metropolis, London is full of what feel like villages or towns and your identity gets bound up where you live but you can also get frozen in time. I moved to Camden in the Nineties when Britpop and Labour winning landslides were a thing. I think my subconscious still believed it was living in that era and that I would always be in my early twenties stalking bands in that iconic Camden pub the Good Mixer.

Now I’m in my mid-forties and things have changed. I popped back to the Good Mixer for old times the other night. It was a bit loud. I daren’t visit the loos. And I could only have one drink as I was on Newsnight later that evening. Yeah. The penny dropped. It was very much time for me to move on. As many of my former local friends had done after having a family.

While I don’t have children, I felt this house move was like having a baby. It took nine months, wrecked my figure and at one point I pushed a very large sofa through a very small space complete with a lot of grunting and swearing. I also learned that everyday sexism is alive and kicking in the world of estate agency. I was often asked which rooms my kids would sleep in and whether “hubby” would want a second viewing.

But despite all the stress and collapsed chains, the big move happened and I couldn’t be happier. I love my new house and neighbourhood. It’s great to start a new chapter in a brand new part of this amazing city. There are many things to be grateful for about my new gaff, but hand on heart, the thing I’m most excited about is having my first ever wheelie bin. Finally, I feel like a grown up. As soon as I work out when bin day is.

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