I really enjoyed this free book put together by the Rowan Arts Project. It’s a series of interviews with people who live and work on the Holloway Road in north London, each one accompanied by a photograph.
The stories are simple, just a few paragraphs each, but fascinating to read. Each person chooses an object to be photographed as well, something that means something to them. Often it’s a reminder of home – the participants come from all over Britain and the world. Police constable James Craggs, for example, chose an old coal-miner’s Davy lamp to remind him of his family in the north-east of England. He misses the fresh air of his home town, the smell of seaweed after a storm.
Others come from further away – Iran, Cyprus, Ecuador – and each person carries their own memories of a very different life. The book doesn’t try to make any judgements about why people came to this area, what they have gained or lost – it just lets the people speak for themselves. The photographs, too, are straightforward shots, mostly in the person’s home or workplace on the Holloway Road.
At the back of the book is an interesting section of background about the Holloway Road, how Arsenal Football Club moved there, the history of cinemas and transport, and famous residents like Joe Meek, Joe Orton and Edward Lear. The book doesn’t appear to have an ISBN is I don’t think it’s available on Amazon or other booksellers. But you can get a free copy (just pay for postage) through the Rowan Arts Project here.
UPDATE: I’ve been told by Rowan Arts that it’s been so popular that all 3,000 copies have gone! They’re trying to get funding for a reprint but nothing confirmed yet. You can, however, listen to the full interviews free online here.
If you’re interested in the Holloway Road area, you might like to know about my first novel On the Holloway Road – click here for more info.