I am definitely not one to sing the praises of London but I must admit it is starting to grow on me. When I was here last year I stayed with Liz and Adrian and hated London a little less. Part of the reason for this was that they live in Brixton and I really loved the neighborhood and even found an authentic Mexican restaurant in London.
This was shocking to most of my other friends in London who said Brixton was dodgy and dangerous. But remember I love ugly cities and when cities are too sanitized like Innsbruck Austria I feel like I’m with a pretty, boring girl. Nice to look at, nothing to say.
But Brixton has lots to say.
It is a multicultural neighborhood with a quarter of its residents of African and Caribbean descent. Over the last century it’s been a neighborhood for the working class, a home to many new immigrants and historically a place for many riots. There’s been so much turmoil that when The Clash wrote Guns of Brixton they weren’t referring to the infamous riots in the 1980s.
Today Brixton is slowly becoming gentrified. I had met people who worked for advertising agencies had moved in and I suspect people in similar occupations also see the seduction of a neighborhood that isn’t white washed. You can see how things are changing most with Brixton Market, the outside maintains its multi-ethnic market but on the inside it is evolving into trendy restaurants and cafes.
I love the outside market and I walked around just to see what people were selling. Vendors shout out at you trying to lure you into their shops. Some greet me in English, others in Spanish and when I respond back in Spanish they ask me where I am from and why I won’t buy their chicken for dinner.
For me it’s about the people. I have had great conversations with fish mongers from Tajikistan about how cold it really is in Canada and we laughed when their boss told them to get back to work in a language I didn’t understand – a scolding tone is universal. I became friends with a student from Afghanistan working at a cell phone booth who explained how to get a SIM card for my new GalaxySIII and sold me a case for £3. He introduced me to Kelly, who I had already met, a man who had worked in Brixton Market for 40 years and sold me a converter for £1.
For me Brixton Market is why London is interesting. Who cares about the London Eye or some old ceramics in a museum?