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Clapton Square ‘zeitgeist’ and murder mile

2018 March 22
London stories cover

On the train to Margate

The Sunday Times recently decided that Clapton Square ‘embodies the zeitgeist’. It referred to the Lower Clapton Road former name of ‘murder mile’ which made me think back to the writing in my book London Stories .

Writing in London Stories I noted that much of the Non-Conformist past had gone including the former Mother’s Hospital. My words were :
’The road that was formerly marked out by religion is now refigured through violent death: the murder of the owner of the sub-post office, arson above the laundrette, the killing of the owner of the Asian supermarket next to the former Mothers’ hospital, and numerous drug related shootings near Clapton Pond’.

I had probably forgotten to include the elderly woman’s death outside the main door to Cavendish Mansions which had never been fully investigated. As the book came out before the riots I had not written about the burning of cars parked outside houses in Clapton Square nor the terrible destruction in nearby Clarence Road.

While my childhood was experienced  inside the Round Chapel and local schools such as Millfields and John Howard, it was entirely different to recent descriptions. The Sunday Times has written of the Clapton Square ‘middle-class dream circa 2018’. Thinking about how I had lived my past, and former recent life in the area, was certainly a very different way of living. That the newspaper has placed Clapton second and Bermondsey first (yes first!) in the whole of London reveals an entirely different way of understanding an historical past!

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