My part of London doesn’t get much of a good press. Green Lanes, the site of the Haringey Food Festival, earned national notoriety a couple of years ago with a running gun battle between Turkish and Armenian gangs. It also features regularly on those reality TV shock-shows – I seem to remember one about the local environmental health team and another about the Met Police’s robbery squad.
But it is also one of the few genuinely 24hour streets in London with cheap restaurants, cafes, bakeries and fruit-and-veg stores selling exotic foods from South and Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. If you wanted to celebrate the diversity of this borough then closing the street and having a food festival there is a pretty effective way of expressing it.
As I stood in the street on Sunday afternnon, taking in the sun , sipping a can of Red Stripe and tucking into some Curry Goat whilst listening to my daughters’ school steel band, it occurred to me that I would like Cameron and the shire-smug-ites who talk about ‘broken Britain’ to come and have a look at this. And the likes of the English Defence League and all those Essex-geesers that I work with who ‘want their country back’.
We may well have fuck-knows enough problems in Haringey and in many respects we do tick all the boxes of ‘broken society’ - but in spite of it there is genuinely a community here. And a community does not have to look like Ambridge for it to work: I see over at Penny Red she is saying something much along the same lines.
I also feel saddened that such is the nature of life in London that after twenty years of living here I am still on the periphery of this community. Spending most of my waking hours working somewhere else – even when it’s only a couple of boroughs away - it is inevitable that your hometown becomes a dormitory.
Something that the anarchists make much of, and which I have to say I agree with, is that the very act of being a community is itself political. Especially in these times when so many will deny us this.