Oppidans road. – By @Alfie60428342

By Alfie Hardman


Oppidans road.


We were asked by Ian to recreate the font style of our home address and it got me thinking about how my area has changed.


I opted to have my design smudged. As if someone had run their finger across it. Reason being it’s hardly recognisable these days.


Now, I’m going to really try to resist having a typical moan about gentrification here. It’s a boring and many areas have been totally rejuvenated through the bizarre process its typically identified with. E.g. area is cheap, area becomes cool because young artist can afford it there, area becomes well to do as people think beyond the flats and more the houses that embellish them. As a result, sometimes, the neighbourhood gets swarms of letting agencies and beauty shops (or labs as their sometimes called).


I feel slightly shocked that my own area has been used as a case study for this by Londoners. They have a point though. Long gone is the perpetually drunk Frenchman that used to roam Primrose Hill.  He was somewhat of a local legend having been friends with Amy Winehouse. He told me how he used to shoot pool with her in the Camden town Hawley Arms (a fantastic place to write SCABs). I read in the local neighbourhood paper that he’d died and too my shame I had mixed reactions about it. He had once called me a ‘c***’ for not saying hello you see, but I had not heard him initially. I had stood there not knowing whether to smile thinking it might be a joke (I have also played him at pool – resigning myself to the rules he seemed to make up on the spot). Anyway, he turned out to be a total nutter.


But I digress, along with him other things that vanished. The shop in Camden for example that just sold military hats. This one of all of them held a special place in my heart. On the very, very rare occasion I’d do well in a spelling test (we’re talking like 5 ½ /10) Mum would take me to the shop to choose a hat from the vast array. We’re talking WWII ones, Soviet ones, the odd Nazi one that even then I could tell was fake and well, not that fun really.


I wonder what the kids get these days instead… An ‘I love Camden’ T-shirt or a plastic weed grinder.


Areas change and I’m not proposing we get all high and mighty and change that. But what I do implore people to do is at least know the history a lil’ bit. By doing this I believe you keep the spirt of the place alive and that helps the area keep some sense of identity.  


For example, Primrose Hill used to a be a place where in even the late 1800s you’d fight out a dual. The source from which I read this also told me that it would typically be pistols and after they’d both be taken to the pub. To either die and have one last strong drink or just the latter for the luckier.


It’s funny when you compare this to an experience I had the other day. When I was a kid there used to be the words “…and the views so nice.” Painted on the path way up to the hill. Over the years this has become faded so me and a friend decided to touch it up. Just after completing it a German tourist ask to borrow the paint, so he can draw something. Hesitantly we give them to him. What does he do? Draw a phallus of course.


I’m not complaining about that, we rubbed it off and gave him an ‘off’ look. I just want people to at least know what the area once was. Jesus I feel like an old territorial man and an utter fool but with areas you close to and always have been its hard. 

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