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Camden Town

27 July 2011

Running home from work, I used to loop through Islington’s leafy backroads – the quiet squares of Barnsbury, the faded terraces of Canonbury, a peek into the shop windows of Essex Road. Lately though, when I am spat out of the revolving doors of my office building onto the King’s Cross pavement at 5.30pm, I have been drawn towards Camden Town. 

I think my love of  Regent’s Park has crept slowly east; I used to hate going to Camden. Arriving late at night, I would scurry from the tube to the Electric Ballroom or a late night bar, trying not to catch anyone’s eye. The heady mix of chancers and drunks selling their souls down by the Lock never seemed romantic to me. I never went in daylight. 

Last night I ran a circuit of Camden back-streets, breathing in dust and fumes as I ran past council estates and faded townhouses, grandeur and squalor. I braved the wandering chaos of the High Street, dreamed of New York on Delancey Street, and had to rewind my podcast on St Pancras Way, too busy people-watching to pay attention.

At the corner of Camden Road, two girls were photographing the street sign. A fading bunch of flowers was tied to the railing and I turned to gawk intrusively. “AMY” was written on the sign.

It’s odd how an area can be so inextricably bound to a person. I am just waking up to the tawdry romance of Camden, but Amy Winehouse is its pin-up girl, now forever tattoed to its arm. I ran on to Tufnell Park and Archway, back to the quiet hinterland where I live, anonymously, happily. Luckily.

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