Where to start?
Well, firstly, we have one of the best mobs of ‘eccentrics’ that London has to offer. We’ve got the legendary Red Faced Mary, a chopstick wielding black lady who colours her face in with red lipstick and dishes out some properly off the wall abuse/salutations at passers-by with “Jackie Chan”, “Japanese Shirley”, “Jamaica”, and, the ever reliable “bumbaclart” being amongst them. It puts us in a right good mood for the day if we get “buttercup” which seems to be reserved for individuals that she has a particular fondness for. The look of wonder on children's faces as they pass her is also a great source of delight. A word of warning though, she has beef with the Chinese. Don't know why.
We have Cardboard Robot Man, a gentleman who seems to be very intelligent and walks around in robot suits made from cardboard with a ‘beeping device’ attached to him for further effect. He has recently branched out into fashioning wheel on a stick-like contraption that he wheels around the neighbourhood. Again, don’t know why but they are apparently very well made.
Until recently we had Gown Man, a handsome fella that used to hang around the high street wearing just a dressing gown. He’s fucked off of late. We’ve heard reports of sightings on the Cally Road but these are uncorroborated and we cannot confirm this.
Some people think we are mocking these people when we write/tweet about them. Nothing could be further from the truth, we celebrate these odd residents, and what with the ‘gentrification’ of the area, would fight tooth and claw to keep them around.
Anyway, enough of the locals, let's get onto the amenities. We’ve got pubs galore from the earthy local pubs (although these are seemingly dropping like flies you could still do a pub crawl of the area without once seeing a posh scotch egg if you so wished) to the more hipster gastro-pubs.
If we do a crawl of the area we always start in The Boston Arms, an Irish pub on the Kentish Town/Tufnell Park border used, largely, by the indigenous population of the area. Some people are absolutely fucking terrified of the place and, yes, it is a bit rough and ready but we’ll always end up striking up a conversation with an old Irish fella or a Norf London geezer that’s been around a long time with some (tall?) tales to tell. Oh, there’s also properly cheap Guinness until 7 o'clock.
And from there on, there is a wealth of hostelries to choose from, The Pineapple, The Junction, The Southampton and Shebeen, to name but a few. Try a drink in every pub on the strip and we guarantee that you’ll be rat arsed by the time you hit Camden Town. Not that you need to hit Camden Town anymore. These days, in Kentish Town we have all that you desire. Hungry? We’ve got the Giles Coren (yes, he lives here but don’t hold that against us) approved Pizza East and swanky kebab joint E.Mono. We got Dirty Burger and decent pop-ups in both The Grafton Arms and The Abbey Tavern.
So, onto the (downside?) gentrification of the area. Rents/property prices are becoming fucking extortionate but that’s maybe more of a London thing rather than a specifically Kentish Town thing. Although, we know someone that moved to New Cross recently stating something along the lines of, ‘when I first moved here it was all burnt out shops and a pub, now its coffee shops and posh ice cream’.
We agree with this to an extent, we’ve got quite enough of the artisan coffee shops now, thanks. But there’s still plenty here to please everyone. We’ve still got local graffiti artist Mr P adorning the place with monkey faces and murals, we’ve still got our beloved Natasha, the flower girl outside the station, churning out her baskets of bouquets - not quite the Dickensian sight one would see in Oliver, but nevertheless Kentish Town's very own. We’ve got the posh chicken of Chicken Shop and we’ve still got the hot wings of kings at Sam’s Chicken.
Oh yeah, and we’ve got cats. Lots and lots of fucking cats.