Deborah Ross: How to build your own Crouch End


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While London burns I feel I ought to remind you these may be exciting times for Crouch End; the setting for SJ Watson's bestselling thriller, Before I Go To Sleep, which has been bought by Ridley Scott and is soon to be a major Hollywood movie. The only question over the project seems to be: will it stay in N8, or will the action move to America? But does it matter? Maybe not. I believe that with the right ingredients you could build an "authentic" Crouch End in the Nevada desert, if you so fancied, but you must have the following: you must have mothers taking up all pavement space with those chariot-sized prams that force you to hug storefronts in order to get past. (I was forced to hug David Clulow the other day and while he knows a great deal about overpriced sunglasses, he gives very little back in terms of warmth). You must have a health-food shop which sells both organic and non-organic mung beans (always a hard choice) and staff that look peculiarly sickly.

You must ensure that all useful shops are replaced by coffee shops with quirky selling points like mismatched crockery and signs that read "Home-made cake!" and "Home-made ice-cream!" as if "home-made" is profoundly exciting in some way. (I make quite a lot of home-made food at home and it is pretty boring, for the most part).

You must have mothers huddling on the street corners discussing private schools, while saying they are not the sort of people who send their children to private schools. (This is an essential component of the Crouch End psyche).

You must be quite scared of neighbouring Wood Green – known as "Hood Green", which not only suffered from the rioting, but also has a multiplex cinema where you may pull down the seat and find a penis graffitied on it, as well as the entreaty: "Sit on this!"

You must never have rioting in Crouch End and, although word has it Blockbusters was broken into, it was probably only because someone had an urgent need to re-appraise Kieslowski's Three Colours Red.

So this is how to build your own Crouch End, and also don't forget the bakery, Gail's. You'll need somewhere to faint over the price of an artisan sourdough and wonder at the lunacy. This is essential, too.