A few months ago, I left Oxford and my North London sensibilities behind me and moved South. I ended up in Brixton, somewhere that immediately brings to most minds images of 80s rioting and police sirens. I have to admit that that is what it brought to mind with me too, and my first visit did nothing to disavow me of this opinion.
Having been given incorrect directions by the friend I was staying with (being told to turn right out of the station rather than left), I ended up on a slightly shady road thinking that I should really be at his house by now. I hailed a taxi, giving up and thinking that it was a bad idea to wander any further. The taxi driver did nothing to help this opinion by saying 'Oh no, love! [put on some form of vague cockney accent here] Y'don' wanna be wanderin' here at this tima night!'.
After arriving at the aforementioned friend's house (and chastising him for giving me the wrong directions...twice), I fell asleep and tried not to think about the sirens I could hear in the background.
It was about a month before I managed to actually visit Brixton proper, apart from the daily trip to the tube station. I was intrigued by the idea of living close to such a famous market and excited to be back near a Picturehouse cinema, given that I was missing the Phoenix quite a bit.
Putting the terrors of my first visit behind me, and noting that anywhere is less terrifying by daylight, I headed down towards the centre of Brixton, aiming for the market. I was immediately reminded of the Covered Market, another thing I'd been missing about Oxford. Fortunately, though, unlike Oxford market, Brixton somehow seems to have managed to stay relatively non-commercial. It contains a number of restaurants and cafes, little independent shops as well as butchers, fishmongers and grocers. I fell in love with the place there and then and, at the first available opportunity dragged my flatmate down to it, not believing that he'd lived in Brixton for a year and never been to it.
It wasn't until recently that I made it to the Ritzy Cinema but when I did I was just as impressed as I'd hoped to be. The main screen is beautiful, with a vaulted ceiling, uplighters in the walls and the Picturehouse's usual comfortable seating.
I've now noted that there is another opinion of Brixton, other than that of a constant riot, and that is that its one of those 'Up and Coming' places where trendy young things hang out and generally be hip and cool. And I suppose, it is, in its way, but that does seem to mean, to its advantage, that there is a lot going on here. And much as one might want to hate the hipsters for making things cool by liking them before they were, without them we probably wouldn't have the vintage shops, the local-artist print shop, the vegan cupcake stall and pubs that are much nicer to sit in than your average wetherspoons.
All in all, I'm very happy with my move, not least because it means that my sofa surfing days are over, at least for now. And how could I not love somewhere that has a square lit with breakup gobos under its tree? Expect some more Brixton related posts...watch this space