This is the street I live on. More accurately, I suppose, it’s the street next to the street I live on, and it’s called Kentish Town Road. The cHEMiST doesn’t exist anymore, but I can confirm from recent experience that the kebabbery does. If, by the way, you’re one of those people that cringed at my use of the newly-coined ‘kebbabery’, consider the fact that Shakespeare introduced over 2,000 new words to the language, and as I am at minimum 0.05% (1 / 2,000) the writer Shakespeare was, I think it’s fair to allow me just this one.
Anyway. This is not the point. The point is, for the first time, I’m living in a real London neighborhood. There are charity shops, grocery stores, kebabberies (the plural, of course, of kebbabery) and coffee shops galore, and they’re all right at my doorstep. On Saturdays, I’ve enjoyed walking the twenty feet down the road to the ‘ALL DAY BREAKFAST, £4’ place – I assume it has no other name – read the paper, and listen to little old ladies gab on about the neighborhood. It’s been great.
My flat is directly above a grocery store, and I’m convinced that with a little smooth talking, I can convince the landlord to install a dumbwaiter in my bedroom, into which I can place crisp £5 notes, and out of which I can take copious quantities of hummus and baba ghanoush.
None of these things were possible last time I was here. I lived in Bloomsbury, in Passfield Hall, which had the two great virtues of being both incredibly cheap (relatively speaking) and a fifteen-minute walk from campus. It was not, however, much of a neighborhood. The dozens of hotels in the area were swarming with tourists, and the nearest decent restaurants or pubs were good walks away. Kentish Town, meanwhile, feels alive.
It’s easy to forget, whilst at the LSE, that you’re not just there to be a student. You’re there to live a life, and being a student is just one part of that. The experiences you have in your day-to-day color and give context to the work you do in the classroom, and I can’t recommend enough living in a neighborhood that makes you feel alive as you work to understand your world.