I fell in love at The Cat & Mutton, the almost 300-year-old pub at the north end of Broadway market. I didn’t know at the time that I was falling in love but it was happening. On a sunny day in July (August?) a few years ago my friend Meghna and I met another friend, Mike, for a drink. Mike had moved to London from Bombay to do his masters and I was taking a break from the BigSmoke and meeting all my friends, going to galleries and basically soaking in the city.
That was my first time at Broadway market on a Saturday – the one day of the week when the lane pops up like a foldable card and becomes a kaleidoscope of food, art+craft, people, buskers, coffee, babies in buggies, books, posters, drink, smells, colour, and everything else that defines a good weekend. The three of us got a bottle of white, then another, then another. And the day, as blurry as it became, remained incandescent – from that moment till now.
Some places have a way of imprinting themselves on you. It has to do with timing, mostly. And good weather. And whether or not you’re happy with yourself at that moment. All of these worked in my favour. And I fell in love with a place. And a boy.
Over the last 5 years I’ve hovered around Broadway market and watched it change, wondering if the gentrification – which I am very much part of – is worth talking about and criticizing. Regardless, I’ve never lived more than a kilometer or two away from the otherwise sleepy lane with a smattering of shops – chemist, butcher, fish monger, Whole Foods (not the Amazon chain but a couple of enterprising Turkish brothers who’ve nicked the name), bookstores, bakery, post office, Argentinian restaurant, Tapas bar, a greasy spoon, couple of pubs, smoked eel shop, haberdashery, and a hardware store . Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? It is.
It’s been part of my run route, when early in the morning the only place open is the bakery. It’s where I run my errands, meet my friends, buy books. The park next to it is where my daughter plays now. Despite having fought long and hard with the idea of being a creature of habit, I guess I do like the rhythm and tempo of some places. And I keep coming back for more.
Permanence is for others, so when I move away from this city I know that I’ll be carrying this pocket of London with me forever. As a habit that eventually became an indelible memory.