In Defence of Camden // Penny For Your Thoughts

by Carl McRae

I think the last time I ever wrote an ‘essay’ about anything, I was eighteen years old and was made to write about Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’ (a song that I never want to hear again) for my A-level in music, so obviously, my writing skills aren’t at their peak. However, this is a subject that I know I can confidently write about more so than anything else in my life.

Camden is commonly referred as one of the worst places in London / UK / the world by, well, pretty much everyone I come across and, to a point, it’s understandable – roughly every ten metres, you can indulge in luxuries such as a bong in the shape of a gas mask, a t-shirt saying ‘FBI – Female Body Inspector’, or ‘Keep Calm, I’m A Musician’ and yes, a large majority of people here still think that “the Libertines were / are the most important band on earth”.

But Camden is so much more than that nostalgia. Or poppers and salvia.

Camden is the home to some of the most iconic and incredible music venues in the UK; Roundhouse, KOKO, Electric Ballroom, The Underworld, Dingwalls and Barfly to name only a handful. It’s one of the only areas in London that has managed to avoid becoming massively gentrified – a short stroll through the area and you’ll quickly realise that actually it’s one of the only places where small businesses can still thrive whilst living in the existence of your well-known Nando’s, Pret, Urban Outfitters etc.
You will also find it very difficult to meet such honest, colourful characters anywhere else and of course, we have a multitude of incredible bars.

One of which – the one closest to my heart – is The Hawley Arms – a pub where the staff rota currently reads like future headliners of the aforementioned venues, and photographers already worthy of their own exhibitions. It’s also home to the best pint of Guinness you can get without having to go to Ireland.

With the exception of a brief stint living in Tottenham, I’ve lived here my entire life, I work in ‘trendy’ East London and have a girlfriend that lives in what is also considered ‘trendy’ Deptford but nothing will ever change the importance and love of Camden to me, and many, many others.