Locals strike back at ‘warts and all’ guide

[from Islington Gazette]

Locals strike back at ‘warts and all’ guide

12 November 2008

A NEW “warts and all” guidebook threatens to “let the cat out of the bag” about London – and Islington comes in for some serious abuse.

The Not For Tourists Guide to London calls Archway “grimy”, Holloway “grotty” and one of the area’s best-known pubs “pretentious”.

But local residents have come out fighting – and say the authors have not got a clue what they are talking about. The guide says of Holloway: “The borough of Islington is supposed to be either a byword for liberal middle-class cosiness or else grim inner city deprivation, depending on who you talk to. This bit has neither. Instead it’s got a slightly pretentious pub (Nambucca) and lots of very ordinary residential streets.”

It adds: “Holloway is best known for its women’s prison and not much else.”

Jamie Webb, manager of Nambucca, said: “Holloway is not as ‘rough’ as it may first seem. Just scratch the surface to find good restaurants, pubs and retro clothes shops. There is a cracking car boot sale and we even have a Waitrose!”

He also denied Nambucca was “pretentious”, adding: “Nambucca is a great place to watch bands before they hit the big time. It is a very real pub with real people – perhaps the jewel of Holloway.”

On N19, the authors write: “Archway is a grimy, gritty thoroughfare for an area with so much cash sloshing around on either side. Dirty and more than a little rough around the edges, Archway is pretty low on the ‘fun scale’.”

But Kate Calvert, of the Better Archway Forum, retorted: “The thing to remember about Archway is that it is more than just what is on Archway Road. There are really great eating places, loads of independent shops and the area is a centre for health places and home improvements.”

Meanwhile Finsbury Park was also mocked: “‘Let’s move to Finsbury Park’, newcomers say. ‘Why, it’s so near a park, a Tube and a station.’ Then they get here.”

But Despina Johnson, of regeneration group FinFuture, said: “Finsbury Park has a lot to offer – it has got interesting roads and independent shops. Fonthill Road is a focal point for clothing, Stroud Green Road for hair and beauty and Blackstock Road is a flavour of North Africa.”

But it was not all doom and gloom. The guide said of the Angel and Upper Street: “This area has everything. Welcoming bars full of lovely young things, antique shops full of lovely old things. And if that sounds a little too cheerful even whingers are catered for at the Carling Academy’s ‘Feeling Gloomy’ night.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    It is interesting that people tend to focus on the bad stuff isn’t it?

    I don’t mean in the guide I mean in this article.

    For example, the blurb for Finsbury Park does indeed start with “‘Let’s move to Finsbury Park’, newcomers say. ‘Why, it’s so near a park, a Tube and a station.’ Then they get here.”

    But then goes on to say, ‘But there are twinkles – the park cafe and the infamous mosque now doing community outreach. Head to the Faltering Fullback for a pint, Petek for Turkish, the Happening Bagel Bakery for – well you know – or run the gauntlet of Blackstock Road for bundles of mint and tasty lamachun.’

    So in an 80-word blurb, 50 were positive. Why did you choose to focus on the 30 that weren’t?

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