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 Iâ€™ve become enamoured with staying in central London at the Goodenough Club.
As Iâ€™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. Itâ€™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. Iâ€™d just seen a leaflet that mentioned opening 25 years ago, about the time I used to buy sandwiches there.
â€œOh, yes,â€ she said, â€œLuigi and I are still here. I wasnâ€™t in the shop so much then, I had small children. Of course the foodâ€™s changed.â€ We chatted, and she asked if I was back for good. (Hm, thereâ€™s a questionâ€¦.) â€œSee you next time,â€ she called as I left.
I went to the newsagent for a copy of the Independent (headline, â€œEarthâ€™s ecological debt crisisâ€) and some envelopes. â€œYou were here last year,â€ said the newsagent. â€œIâ€™ll be back again soon,â€ I said. Sounds like a neighborhood, doesnâ€™t it?
And what a neighborhood. Weâ€™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.