As we approach 2015 it’s a big year for Rosie Millard. She reflects on an impending major birthday and why Islington is absolutely perfect for her
Hello 2015. Quite a big year for La Millard, since it’s a Big Birthday year for me. It’s OK, I’m cool about it. Sort of. The children help. If you can call shouting ‘That skirt is too short for someone who is NEARLY FIFTY’ helping, that is. Anyway, after a recent venture into Dalston for supper, and entry to the Hackney Half Marathon, both of which experiences made me realise that Hackney is entirely rammed with people under 25, half of whom have giant beards, I realise that I am living in the perfect London arrondissement. For Islington has become rather middle aged.
Well, just look at what I will call the restaurant ‘offer’. Nothing wrong with steak and chips, or ‘pan-fried’ sole (as opposed to sole fried in, er, anything else) and the waiters at the Almeida are deliciously Gallic, but have you ever seen anyone under 40 in there? Moving on down Upper Street, there is Carluccio’s, entry to which is banned without a buggy, and Fredericks, entry to which is banned without a three piece suit, or twinset and pearls. This might sound harsh, but it is so. And I go to all the above three establishments regularly. In pearls.
Clothes shops on Upper Street are also a bit, not exactly meh, but these are certainly not places selling the stuff which sends my 17-year-old into paroxysms of joy. For that, we must go to Brick Lane. The offerings of Islington – Monsoon, Whistles, even the divine Diverse – are perfect for me, not so ideal for anyone born during the Blair administration. Equally the beauty parlours in the ‘hood are geared up with Botox leaflets and specialise in tooth whitening and weight loss and dying grey roots, but there are absolutely no tattooists anywhere. There are estate agents and spectacle shops, because we all own houses and glasses, but there are no cycle shops, or cool music shops, or even a cool music shop selling bikes, as there is in Dalston. Art shops sell Bridget Riley; paint shops sell Farrow and Ball. These are the things we aspire to have on our walls. Not manga graffiti. I bet Dinny Hall does a better trade in eternity rings (to mark ten years’ worth of marriage) rather than the engagement versions.
It’s alright, it really is. I quite like being in a place that is so suited to my fortynearlytobefifty something tastes. It’s just when I do get onto the Overground, and sit with all the other women who have Border Terriers and children named Honey at secondary school, and go to Dalston and see the groovers with whippets and beards and no children thanks because we have just left university, I sort of feel as if somehow, at some point, I stepped off a certain land mass and arrived in another one. Called Barnsbury.