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Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood.pdf | Language: English
    Julian Mash(Author)

    Book details

Portobello Road is London's most iconic street and a unique place to live and visit. Despite the waves of gentrification, soaring rents and the recent arrival of High Street chains, its Bohemian, anarchic, creative spirit still survives. Julian Mash, a former bookseller at the famous Travel Bookshop, meets the traders and shopkeepers, film-makers and fashionistas, punks, promoters and poets who make Portobello what it is. From his encounters with famous residents like Damon Albarn and life-long market traders like Peter Cain there emerges a vivid and sometimes surprising picture of one of Britain's most famous neighbourhoods. This fascinatingly illustrated book explores how Portobello Road has been at the centre of trends as diverse as racial integration, health food, vintage fashion, the property boom and the life and death of record shops.

"A wonderful study of this iconic London street." -- Michael Bond, author of Paddington Bear 'Underneath the veneer of hedge funders, boutiques and gym-fit wives lurk traces of the original Portobello rediscovered by Julian Mash. From the last costermongers in the vegetable market to the antiques traders and music scene, the author uncovers a distinctive world and vibe that could only belong to this street.' The Lady '... you need this book on your shelf' The Londonist "a fascinating look at a fascinating part of London" -- Robert Elms BBC London "elegy for a lost community" Evening Standard "a charming addition to the canon. The 'Lives' in the subtitle - a colourful cast of rock stars, bohemians, hustlers and slum landlords - are brought to life in such detail, you can almost smell the jerk chicken." Easyjet Traveller JULIAN MASH graduated from the University of East Anglia with an MA in Creative Writing in 2011. He spent much of his twenties running a record label and playing in a band before becoming a bookseller. He has lived and worked in and around Portobello Road for the last ten years, half of which was spent working at the Travel Bookshop, a local institution and the inspiration for the bookshop in the film Notting Hill. He is currently manager of the Idler Academy and literary events manager for End of the Road Festival. He was a recipient of a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction in 2013.

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Book details

  • PDF | 320 pages
  • Julian Mash(Author)
  • Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd (July 2, 2015)
  • English
  • 9
  • Travel

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Review Text

  • By Ralph Blumenau on August 28, 2017

    Julian Mash used to work at The Travel Bookshop in Blenheim Crescent, just off the Portobello Road in Notting Hill. It had been the scene of the 1999 film “Notting Hill”, though the iconic blue door in the film was a studio reconstruction of a door to another house in nearby Westbourne Park Road. Rising rents (in part the result of the film’s success) forced The Travel Bookshop to close down in 2011. Since then he has been interviewing present and past traders on or near the Portobello Road, and in Part One of the book they almost all tell the same sad story: how the character of the Portobello Road has changed as old stalls and shops – social centres for the community where people met and chatted - have gradually disappeared, (though there are still some splendid survivals which the book celebrates). Fruit and vegetable stalls have given way to soulless supermarkets; arcades in which genuine antiques were sold – the dealers in which formed quite a community themselves - have yielded to places selling tat for tourists; pubs have been replaced by restaurants; many record shops have disappeared. The number of small independent bookshops has shrunk in the face of competition for chain bookstores and Amazon.Steep rent increases have forced other shops to close. The area has been gentrified since the bad old days of Rachman, dilapidated houses and poverty. (Near the end of the book there are devastating comments about the super-rich who have come into the area and whose activities not only are totally devoid of community spirit but sometimes – as when they wreck the peace of neighbours for years by building basement extensions – are positively anti-social).But there is plenty left of the old spirit of the area. There are still some shops specializing in vintage clothes for both men and women, with the period changing as older vintages are ever harder to come by. And Mash tells us of a dentist who is also a stand-up comic and has exhibitions of art works and photographs in his dental surgery. It also hosts informal poetry readings and the occasional impromptu musical gig!Throughout the book there’s a lot about the hippy, drugs and squats scene. There was even a squatting agency which listed empty properties.In Part Two, Mash starts with a vivid history of the 1958 race riots writes about the Notting Hill Carnival, with lots of interviews. The idea was born among people running the London Free School which had been set up in 1965 to provide classes for the poor and disadvantaged. One of its members had the idea of staging, under the name of the Notting Hill Fayre, a week-long carnival and various events associated with it. This was staged in 1966 and was a big local success, with attendances in the low tens of thousands. It had just one steel band (Mash has a section on the history of steel bands) and no sound systems. These were added in 1973, and attendance shot up 30,000 to 50,000. It had becme a nationally recognized event and is now the biggest street party in Western Europe with over a million people attending it over the two days of the August Bank Holiday. Its character, originally Caribbean, has become multi-ethnic, involving all the people in the community.I enjoyed Parts One and Two very much. Part Three is all about the music scene, and we can see how thoroughly familiar Mash is with all its aspects, with bands, record labels etc. For those who, like me, don’t know how to distinguish between rock ‘n’ roll, R & M and reggae, that part is heavy going.Part Four, oddly called “Bricks and Mortar”, consists mostly of sketches of and interviews with more characters who had connections in the neighbourhood.A rich kaleidoscope.

  • By Defenestrator1618 on November 23, 2016

    This book has some very interesting stories about the Portobello Road neighborhood in London. I'd recommend it for any tourist who wants to learn more about the history of the place - not just the big bus tour history, but the stories of the actual people who live and work there.

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