I feel like it’s quite fashionable to be curmudgeonly, snarky even. I’ve certainly dabbled with it in the past. But I’ve come to a heartening realisation: people are fundamentally nice. I genuinely believe that. Apart from anything else, I am rarely confronted with any compelling evidence to the contrary. My job – which certainly used to largely consist of firing inane questions at celebrities of varying calibre – has meant that I have met, albeit briefly, a lot of different people from many different walks of life.
The most common work-related question I get asked (usually by my old school friends) is ‘who is the most difficult/rude/dickish person you’ve interviewed’ and I always struggle to answer. Because on the whole, as I say, everyone’s pretty decent. Not that interesting perhaps, or funny, or the most scintillating conversationalists, but still. Not horrible (not even the ‘Tools’ from ‘Tool Academy’ bar a couple of them).This brings me to Kentish Town, a place that fills me with hope and warmth. My 11-year love affair with the area has meant that, in my personal life, I have mainly interacted with Kentishtowners. My girlfriend is from Gospel Oak; my three best friends live within a five minute radius of my flat; and I have a jacket with ‘NW5’ embroidered on the back. I adore our locale and its people and I rarely venture elsewhere. I mean, why would I?
It was pure luck that I ended up here having, whilst house-hunting post-university, wandered up Kentish Town Road from Camden and thought “this place seems quite fun”. What’s kept me here is the mix of people and the sense of community (and yes, to be fair, the pubs). Of all the people I’ve come across, I don’t think I’ve met anyone that I haven’t liked. I’m on nodding terms with so many, that my rest state is nodding.
Now, I’m not saying that the sort of people I love in the area are unique to NW5 (or am I?) I do wonder where else I would have the sort of pleasingly low-grade ‘banter’ that I enjoy in, say, FAM on Fortess Rd. The produce is great and cheap, but it’s the chat I go in for. An example: I went in to buy ingredients for a salad (it’s January), and as I was paying the guy (whose name I still don’t know) asked if I wanted the 60 packets of Extra chewing gum on the counter. I said that I probably wouldn’t get through it. He suggested I make a lovely soup with it. We then laughed for a good minute about Soup De la Gum – his excellent words. This is not an isolated anecdote. I’ve got loads. Don’t get me started on Sin the giant Serbian bouncer at The Abbey. That guy’s electric.
So I rest my case. People are fundamentally nice. And the nicest reside in Kentish Town.
Words: Rick Edwards
This article first appeared in The Kentishtowner’s February print edition.