Until last year, Camberwell, in south London, was my London neighborhood. I used to stay with friends and see other former neighbors and I could even wander into the Greek shop on Camberwell Church Street and have the owners ask how my kids were (after 10 years!). But my friends are divorcing, and I’ve become enamoured with staying in central London at the Goodenough Club.
As I’ve written before, this is the first part of London I knew, because my first publishing job was here. I started as a summer temp, on a student program the year before I started at UCSB, in 1979. It’s felt familiar, but today it began to feel like a neighborhood. I was buying a sandwich at a little shop called John Charlicks. As it was after 2 and not at all crowded, I asked the woman who was helping me if the family who had started it still owned it. I’d just seen a leaflet that mentioned opening 25 years ago, about the time I used to buy sandwiches there.
“Oh, yes,” she said, “Luigi and I are still here. I wasn’t in the shop so much then, I had small children. Of course the food’s changed.” We chatted, and she asked if I was back for good. (Hm, there’s a question….) “See you next time,” she called as I left.
I went to the newsagent for a copy of the Independent (headline, “Earth’s ecological debt crisis”) and some envelopes. “You were here last year,” said the newsagent. “I’ll be back again soon,” I said. Sounds like a neighborhood, doesn’t it?
And what a neighborhood. We’re about to set up a blog for Noelle Vickers, the director of the Goodenough Club. Noelle is involved in a new Bloomsbury cultural network, so her blog will be full of good things.