East of Islington, By Sam Taylor

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The Independent Culture

Prudently labelled as "fiction", Sam Taylor's sketches from the fringes of inner London life (a spin-off from her delightful Oldie column) have all the offbeat appeal of an urban Archers crossed with Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City.

Her comic secret lies in showing that these lesbian mums, vegan nursery collectives, right-on vicars and gay opera singers in a neighbourhood full of "confirmed bachelors and Hassidic rabbis" (not to mention Sultan the garagista) are deeply ordinary, as humdrum in their habits and their dreams as any nuclear family in curtain-twitching suburbia. From a fusion of so-called "alternative" lifestyles and mainstream feelings springs gentle, affectionate laughter.