Stereotypical London is all about picture perfect architecture and streets, vintage and artisan markets and fashionable people. Well, you won’t find much of that in Kilburn because this is “real” London!
I’ve been working at the music college for about two years now and therefore have spent a lot of time around Kilburn. I’ve gotten to know this area inside out and can say this place has really grown on me.
Kilburn is home for countless crazy people. Seriously, there’s so many of them! Let me see – there’s Shouty Man, Plastic Bag Man, Foamy Mouth Man, “Can I Say A Prayer With You?” Lady, Passive Aggressive Linda, Swagger Man and Mobility Scooter Pervert Man – to name a few.
But over the last two years, I’ve developed a soft spot for Fashion Man. He’s a man who simply doesn’t give a shit! He can rock a leopard print fur coat and bell bottom jeans like a true fashion hero. This guy also comfortably carries off a long vintage dress, paired with fluorescent green patent heels. All you street style bloggers would have a field day if you met this guy! But where does he get all these fabulous clothes from, you wonder? Well, he mostly resides on the steps of Oxfam and is clearly the first person on the scene when some kind person leaves their donations outside the shop. The downside AND the main reason he’s NOT my best friend is that he’s crazy. Full on mentalist. Rule number one – do not make eye contact or he will shout strange things in a language unheard to any scholar out there.
My favourite thing about Kilburn is Spicy Basil. Undoubtedly the best Thai food I’ve ever had. I’ve never been to Thailand but even the biggest of backpackers agree that it’s a very authentic place. Kilburn High Road is famous for the amount of chicken shops it has per capita. Some people even call it Kilburn Thigh Road. Take your pick, there’s – Pepe’s, Peri-Peri’s, Chicken Cottage, Chicken Village and other variations of the word chicken. And of course there’s the HQ of all chicken shops – Nando’s. Another dominant feature of Kilburn are the countless nail and hair salons. The ladies of Kilburn clearly like to get their nails did.
“Night life” around there is pretty rowdy. There’s a bar called Brondes Age – holy grail of all things trouble. It attracts all sorts – office workers, students, drug dealers, business men, girls on the pull and sleazy guys trying to force their grinding dance moves on other innocent dancers. What they all have in common is the thirst for Jaeger Bombs and cheesy tunes. I’ve only been there once but had a brilliant time!
Kilburn is vastly becoming another gentrified area of London. They’re knocking down council blocks like there’s no tomorrow, there are scaffolding and construction sites everywhere and the shops are smartening up. The biggest construction site displays posters with quotes from Bradley Wiggins a la “Little boys from Kilburn are not meant to win Tour de France”. Be aware – The marketeers have found Kilburn!
Kilburn is sometimes a dangerous place. I’ve seen fights, arguments, traffic accidents, blood bursting out of a man’s head, people unconscious on the ground, drug addicts, drunks – you name it! I also heard about a pregnant woman who was once stabbed in the street. Some people might say that police and ambulance sirens are the sound of New York, well, it’s also the theme tune of Kilburn.
But despite all that I love Kilburn and I’ve never experienced something scary enough to make me think otherwise. I love that place because it’s ALIVE! There’s a buzz and character to it. I have more interesting stories to tell you about Kilburn than of any other picture perfect place in London.