I’m flattered that Time Out’s Big Smoke blog has praised 853 in a piece about London’s best blogs – or, more specificially, why do so many good blogs come out of south-east London?
The answer, of course, is simple – south-east London is far better than any other corner of the planet. Oh, alright, maybe I exaggerate just a tad. The main reason is because this corner of the capital has, frankly been ignored by the rest of the media for decades. The Tube network barely touches it, so it may as well not exist to the kind of closed-minded north/west London media type who gets a nosebleed more than a mile off the Underground system. I get as pissed off as anyone with tedious misrepresentation of south-east London in the media, and most of it’s down to sheer laziness and ignorance. The South London Press (no coverage east of Deptford) aside, local media’s a bit of a joke so it’s quite easy to tell a story that, simply, isn’t being told.
There’s another reason, which is that south-east London’s communities are relatively settled – people move here, put down roots, and stay here. Or they were born around here in the first place. Things have changed in the past 15 years or so – the property boom that came with the Millennium Dome caused a lot of uprooting around Greenwich and Charlton, for instance. But historically cheaper property prices helped people make their homes in the south-east, unlike elsewhere where communities tend to be a little more transient. Much of south-east London shares the same problems of crap transport, but also (often) shares the same experience of rolling up the same viaduct to London Bridge each morning. I do think a certain attitude is bred in this area – as you’d expect from somewhere that’s part of London, but not always recognised that way. I’d characterise it as a certain bluntness, an intolerance of bullshit, and a peculiarly parochial manner. Yes, I mean that about you in the next village. These qualities help in a blog.
Of course, there’s the other question about just how long Time Out can keep doing north London versus south London issues – as long as they can keep doing sex issues and “where’s a cheap plumber” issues, I guess. As TO’s Peter Watts suggests, London’s big divide is more of an east/west issue. But “east London” and “west London” are difficult beasts to define – as everybody with half a brain knows, south of the river is NEVER “east London”, and where would you place, say, Crouch End in all that? You couldn’t. (And I’d exclude Notting Hill and Spitalfields from any debate because I class them as up town, anyway, and on neutral territory, like the South Bank and Regent’s Park.)
But where there’s a river, there’s always going to be a divide and a debate. Just a shame TO has to rely on the not-as-funny-as-they-think bloke and someone who seems to think the village of Hextable, north Kent is in the capital to start that discussion for them. Hey-ho. Better luck next time.