The Other Notting Hill, Radio 2

A bit of smirking from Hugh Grant and bang goes the neighbourhood

I blame Hugh Grant, Richard Curtis and Julia Roberts. Although the rot of gentrification had been setting in for some time, it was the 1999 film Notting Hill that dealt the fatal blow to the eponymous district's street cred. A cabbie, hounded out by house prices, was definite: "Certain parts of it have become poncified, if you ask me, since that film. They've completely destroyed the character of the area."

Just as the latter-day Glastonbury festival – which at one time channelled the Notting Hill spirit for three days every year – is a sanitised shadow of its former self, so London W11 is like an old rocker who's cleaned up his act and become an interior design consultant. All Saints Road is full of shops selling wedding dresses and bathroom fittings; Portobello Road is stuffed with expensive tat; All Saints Hall, where Pink Floyd unveiled their singular brand of space rock, is an old people's home.

In The Other Notting Hill, former denizen Don Letts was more concerned with celebrating the bohemian past than bemoaning the Chelsea-tractor present: there was Powys Square, where Performance, Mick Jagger and all, was filmed; the Sarm West studios on Basing Street, opened by Island and later the place where "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was recorded (and where your intrepid reporter was once mistaken for Trevor Horn); Vivienne Westwood's flat in Ladbroke Grove where Johnny Rotten, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry, among others, all lived at various times; Alice's Antique Shop at 61 Portobello Road, where the Beatles got the coats they wore on the Sergeant Pepper cover; the Portobello Hotel, where another Alice, Cooper of that ilk, kept his boa constrictor in the bath ....

It was inevitably an orgy of name-dropping. I could have done with a bit more social history, but then this was Radio 2, not Radio 4; and a couple of people were good value. The old Clash bassist Paul Simonon, who went to school next to Trellick Tower, recalled the day when bits of it started to fall off and everyone thought it might collapse: "We were hoping it was going to fall on the school."

The ghosts of Simonon's old band dominate the place, the colossi of W11. As Chris from Rough Trade records observed, "The Clash seem to engulf the whole area. Someone should put up a statue to them."

Simonon later collaborated with Damon Albarn in The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and the Blur frontman feels deeply indebted to the area, whose giddy cultural mix "completely fuelled and informed my musical output ... I've been here 20 years now and I really wouldn't live anywhere else in London." Then again, unlike the cabbie, he can afford to.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea