Deborah Ross: How to build an authentic Crouch End

If you ask me...

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If you ask me, and while London burns, I feel I ought to remind you these may, at least, be exciting times for Crouch End; the setting for SJ Watson's best-selling thriller Before I Go To Sleep, which has been bought up by Ridley Scott's film company and is soon to become a major Hollywood movie.

The only question over the project seems to be: will it retain its "authenticity" and stay in N8, or will the action move to America? But does it matter? Maybe not. I believe that if you assemble all 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 – Bugaboos? – that force you to hug store fronts to get past. (I was forced to hug David Clulow the other day, and while he knows a great deal about sunglasses, he gives very little back in terms of warmth). You must have a health-food shop which sells both organic mung beans and has staff who look peculiarly sickly. You must ensure that all useful shops are replaced by coffee shops with 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 home-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 and discussing private schools while saying they are not the sort of people who send their children to private schools. (Sending your child to private school while not being the sort of person who sends their children to private school is an absolutely 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 – I need a telly! I'll riot in Comet! – but has a multiplex cinema where you may find a penis graffitied on your seat, with the entreaty: "Sit on this!" (Imagine! At my age! With my vaginitis!). You must never have rioting in Crouch End and, although word has it Blockbuster was broken into, it was probably only because someone had an urgent need to reappraise Kieslowski's Three Colours Red. So this is how to build your own Crouch End, and don't forget Gail's bakery. You'll need somewhere to faint over the price of an artisan sourdough and wonder at the lunacy. This is essential, too.

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