The conversation is inevitable. You’ve just met; you’ve surpassed the occupation question. So far, so good. Next on the list of pleasantries exchanged? Where you live.
The reactions to living in Streatham vary from pity to downright disgust. The funniest, though, is the utter confusion. You see, when you don’t live near a tube station or even (God forbid) within zone two, people just don’t have a clue where it is.
I haven’t always been so infatuated with Streatham. Let me give you, dear reader, a little bit of context. I’m a bit of an imposter; I’m originally from Newcastle (famous for its Brown Ale and orange-hued party revellers). I moved to the big smoke a few years ago to study, spent a year in halls next to Southwark station and, a year after that, ended up in Streatham.
My first impression of my little flat down the road from Streatham Common station was one of surprise: people actually lived in these shoeboxes? After a few months though my flatmate and I settled and soon began to get acquainted with the surrounding area.
I’m not sure what I expected from your average south London high road but angry truck drivers, a local drunk and a junction with traffic coming from so many directions I was genuinely scared to cross the road, wasn’t it. That’s the beauty of south London, though. It’s busy. It’s a bit rough around the edges.
But there are some gems to be found. Tucked opposite Streatham Hill station there’s Earl Grey & Rose, a gorgeous tea room serving handmade cakes and quality food. The owner welcomes you with a smile and even sells her own quirky jewellery on site. It’s miles away from the hustle and bustle of the high road and the perfect place to escape the stresses of London.
Just past the Common there’s The Rookery, a haven of roses, nature trails and secluded spots – perfect for curling up with a good book in the summer. In contrast to the ‘no communication’ rule in central London, locals actually want to engage in conversation with you in Streatham. On one of my first ventures to The Rookery an elderly lady overheard my flatmate and I discussing the wonderful smell of lavender and proceeded to share her mutual appreciation of the stuff. Whenever I nip in to the post office, the man at the counter asks about my day and, get this, is genuinely interested in my response.
Streatham might not be ‘hip’; it might not be the cleanest of places and yes, it might not have a tube station. But it’s the only part of London that feels like home. Anywhere that manages to be over 300 miles away, yet captures my heart in the same way as the north east does, is a winner in my eyes.