By Jaz Kaur Shokar
It’s edgy, affordable and has character. Kings Cross has been described as many things but a mistake it definitely isn’t. I remember when I first began looking for a flat. I was clearly naive and enthusiastic. The prospect of relocating to a hustling Zone 1 from a depressing Zone 4 was exciting. I was living in Morden in Surrey upon the fringes of boredom and despair. Morden was more akin to Mordor, the land of shadow from the Lord of the Rings trilogy than anything else. There was never much to do of a Friday evening other than occasionally poke fun at the irony of being sloshed and broke in the middle of Morden when one of the most diverse and dynamic cities was a stone throw away. Sometimes I would end up in laughable Wimbledon for a night out but everything seemed to close at a suspicious 11pm of a weekday. This was not good news for someone with a pocket full of student loan. So as you can imagine I was quite hyped up on the idea of arriving at Kings Cross despite the mischievous rumours, I was undeterred.
“You’re moving to Kings Cross, you weirdo!” friends would say. Lifting their eyebrow, changing the tone in their voice to sound patronising, and then later as if slightly alarmed ‘It’s full of prozzies you know!” I did know and I didn’t care. It was Zone 1 after all where the people, places and faces merged together as though they were some kind of fantastic Picasso painting. Being an Art student I tried to embrace the dark nature to which Kings Cross was so closely aligned.
“So what if prostitutes wandered the streets!” I thought, it was all very enticing and glamorous, a world away from an insipid Morden where food shopping at Somerfields was the highlight of the week. Funnily enough it wasn’t half as disturbing and dangerous as people made it out to be. For instance It was really disappointing that I never once came across a prostitute or crack dealer. Don’t get me wrong I don’t welcome the idea of getting mugged or worse but the creative side to me clearly has a penchant for a bit danger. By now it was becoming obvious that some people where still living in the stone ages with their opinions regarding Kings Cross.
I moved into my new home along Pentonville road opposite the Thames link in August of 2004. Initially the first week was atrocious. This is due to being so familiar with the sedative serenity of Surrey with the occasional sound of squirrels. Now I was in central London, living on a busy road not prepared for the dreadful onslaught of traffic. However all it took was a bit of getting used to. By week two I was settling in.
I had heard of a music venue just around the corner, which went under the curious name SCALA (well no idea what it stands for, maybe; ‘Students Can Act Like Asses?). Each Friday it hosts a club night called ‘Popstarz’.
‘Popstarz’ is one of those places. A concoction of eccentric people, cool hair-do’s and bad breath. Though what separates it from the usual student dives is the diverse music and people. It’s advertised as ‘The UK’s biggest queer alternative’ but people from different points of the spectrum attend. Girls and boys up to their eyeballs in black eyeliner, the R&B massive, punks with funk, hedonistic types, wannabes, the ones who embarrass themselves whilst dancing appallingly or more often than not the darn right bizarre! Thus providing much entertainment for my self and friends. The drinks are fairly cheap too with cans of Red Stripe at £2.50 all night and 2 for 1 drinks till 11pm on selected beers & spirits. Oh and did I forget to mention free entry before 11pm with a flyer!
Another place I would frequent was the Kings Cross Pool Bar right next door to SCALA. Okay so it’s no ‘Pitcher and Piano’ or ‘Weatherspoons’, but they do have a friendly bunch of people in there and the pool tables aren’t too expensive either at £1.20 a pop. However I came to learn that being a talented pool player and a woman at the same time is a paradox to some men.
Angel is a lovely place to spend afternoons shopping or ‘window shopping’ as is the case usually with most modest students. It would only take me around 12 minutes to reach Upper Street from my flat on foot. Upper Street is full of trendy bars, and a feverish amount of surrounding streets. Streets, which support everything from nose piercing to Moroccan restaurants but the property prices, are absolutely ridiculous.
For the veggies out there there’s a gorgeous authentic Indian restaurant on Chapel Street, none of this Chicken Tikka or Chicken Jalfrezi nonsense. Do you know what? They don’t even eat Chicken Tikka in India; I haven’t the faintest idea where they got that one. There’s an array of places to eat out. If you like your meat, the ‘Est Est Est’ on Upper Street does some good grub for an affordable price.
For anyone who is seeking that swish flat-share in Angel please reconsider as you could get something just as fancy but for half the cost in Kings Cross. In recent years there has been a bulk of investment in the area. Currently they’re amidst building a euro-link once that is completed the Kings Cross transformation will be complete and property prices will rocket through the roof you watch.
I found my flat through a girl I met from accommodation for students website. She too was looking for some laid back creative types to flat hunt with. Luckily we hit it off after throwing back a couple of Blue WKD’S in Soho.
My experience in living in Kings Cross has taught me not to discriminate against an area just because it has an out of date reputation. Word of mouth is no longer a reliable source of information. If you walk along Pentonville Road, just before you approach the SCALA you’ll notice an advertisement that reads ‘Kings Cross Take Another Look’. Well I certainly did, will you?