Wednesday, March 9, 2011

London Still

It's been 8 years since I last visited Camden Town. I first visited London on Australia Day 2003. My housemates all went directly to an all-day nightclub named The Church, which was particularly popular with Australians at the time. I ditched them and headed straight to Camden. I put the obsession down to the fact that when I was 14, my favourite band was Placebo. I spent a lot of time on the message forum on the website and interacted with other members, many of whom were from England, and more specifically, London. I'd learned that Camden was home to the alternative kids. It's where you bought rip-off band shirts and Doc Marten seconds. I wasn't disappointed in 2003. It was busy, and kinda scary, but it was also very very familiar. It was the type of area that is impossible to establish is a city the size of Canberra.

However, I've grown up and returned, unsure that it would still appeal to me. As it turns out, Camden has grown up too. It's cleaner, the markets aren't as claustrophobic. I'm not sure which changes were made as part of the rebuilding after the fire that ripped through Camden Lock Market in 2008, but the whole area looks like it's had work done. There's great food stalls next to the canal, and lining the canal are benches with old motorbikes turned into chairs. I can't remember venturing as far as the Stables Market last time, but the carvings on the walls and the statues are detailed and imposing. The jewellery is quality and as tempting as ever. There's great leather satchels everywhere (though I'm yet to find the perfect soft black satchel). What is saving me money is the fact that I'm not living here permanently. The stables market has a lot of stores selling really interesting home wares, but there's no way I can go around purchasing tables and lamps. The weirdest addition - a stall with tanks of fish. You pay to put your feet in and have them nibble off the dead skin. Ick. Seriously, whats wrong with a pumice stone?

I ducked into The Body Shop before I left and had a conversation with the guy behind the counter. I told him how much I like how Camden's changed since 2003 and he lamented that it had become commericalised and sanitised. He cited the chain stores that had moved onto the main road. Dude... you work at The Body Shop.