London gets slated a lot by non-Londoners and Clapham has a rep as being too bougie for most. Is it a fair point?

Reading about Clapham in London you might almost get the idea that it’s an over gentrified place full of media daahlings, loaded 20 somethings and general wankers. You’d be right of course, but that statement also applies to pretty much anywhere in London.

Hackney? Same. Chiswick? Obviously. Harlesden? OK maybe there are some exceptions.

Having lived in Claarm (as it’s called by the locals) for around 5 years, I can say I went from hating it to kind of appreciating it for what it is. Most of the haters (and there seem to be many) base their opinion on articles from Vice magazine or Time Out without really visiting, bar a night out to infamous local nightclub Infernos.

So, allow me to come to the defence of Clapham…

Looks alright to me… (Oli Lynch)

Too Many Wankers

I challenge anyone in any part of London – nay – the world, to tell me that everyone in their town is the picture perfect example of a lovely human being.

Yes, there are bare dickheads in Clapham. But, you could say the same about Tooting, Willesden or Finchley. In fact, you could easily say the same about Bristol, Brighton and Manchester. And I can testify personally (with anecdotal evidence) about all of those.

If by too many wankers you mean a lot of young rich people then, absolutely, Clapham is packed full of them. If you mean lots of hoo-raa rugger buggers who definitely have a bit of a sense of entitlement issue, then yeah, probably lots of them too. But pick anywhere else in the world and you’ll find the local wankers are pretty well represented in whatever guise that may be.

But, on the plus side, there are A LOT of very good looking people. Be honest, if you’ve been to Clapham your head has probably been turned a few times. Yeah don’t lie. And if you don’t believe me, head to the Common on a sunny evening and tell me I’m wrong.

Bottom line. Everywhere is full of wankers. Especially London.

The Nightlife

So this might be what people mean when they say about the too many wankers thing. The nightlife in Clapham is pretty buzzing, which means lots of wine bars, lots of busy pubs and a few quite grimy nightclubs. And, wherever you have drunk people or people on drugs that does tend to mean bad behaviour.

Tame night in Infernos (Pic: Zefrographica)

But the flip side of this is, if you want to have a good time there is a lot of choice. The aforementioned Infernos aside, you can also get pretty messy at any number of smaller clubs along the high street from Stockwell (The Swan, easily the grimy equal of Infernos) to Clapham South (Gigalum) and Clapham Junction (definitely wankier than Clapham – and it’s actually Battersea).

If you don’t like drunk people acting like idiots then yeah, definitely don’t live on Clapham High Street. In fact, if you don’t like obnoxious drunk people then, basically, don’t go out in London.

Soulless, Boring, Commuter Belt

Everyone works in finance or media. Too many red trouser or brogue wearing posh boys, yummy mummys being bitchy, public school grads and girls/guys who think they are genuinely God’s gift. No one has any fashion sense basically. It’s not a buzzing hive of creativity like, say, Dalston or Peckham. Everyone lives for money and it’s boring.

Actually… Shit. Those are all valid points.

Yes, it’s commuter belt. Of course it is, it’s zone 2 in London. And there is very little in the way of cool local hipsters like say Bethnal Green or something. But…

Sunny day? Standard (Pic: Herry Lawford)

Clapham Common is a great piece of green space. In the summer, lounging in the park is hard to top. There are loads of decent pubs, especially away from the high road (The Stonhouse, King and Co, The Landor) and a very good weekly farmers market. Andthe food scene is probably one of the best in London (The Dairy, The Manor etc). Although…

Generic High Street

With the opening of the new Five Guys restaurant Clapham High Street now has 6 burger chain restaurants on it (Byron, Honest, Haché, Mucky D’s, GBK). There is also a Nandos, several low grade chicken establishments (including a famous one) – plus KFC and a generic Italian which I can’t even remember which one it is (Bella Italia?).

Yeah that’s a lot of generic high street chain food.

However, there are also lots of new and cool foodie places which pop up all the time. The Dairy and The Manor are the two highest end options, in the old toilets there is WC (stands for wine and charcuterie, don’tca know), Del Aziz, The Pepper Tree (great Thai food!), Mama Lan (quality Chinese), an excellent Trinidad roti shack (Roti Joupa), several quality Lebanese and Greek restaurants plus a choice of great pub food.

Look past the crap eateries and you’ll be spoiled for choice!

Too Many Festivals

In the summer there are festivals, carnivals and all sorts on the common. This does mean an influx of people who want to get totally mashed (same as any other weekend then I guess) and a lot of noise pollution.

On the plus side, you get SW4 (dance music fest) and loads of cool bands right on your doorstep. In the winter there’s a sort of Winter Wonderland type thing and there’s usually some kind of foodie fest in the sunnier months. What’s wrong with that?

Transport Sucks

South of the river it does get a bit shaky for connections, it is true. The Northern Line at any of the Clapham stations on a weekday rush hour is like a actual scene from one of those Hellish paintings people used to make in medieval days.

Cool single platform, gets scary when rammed at rush hour (pic: Matt Buck).

But… It’s not all bad. You can get to Brixton or Stockwell and take the Victoria line which is infinitely better than the Northern Line. The Overground is always improving and now runs through Clapham North/High Street all the way to the East.

The cycle superhighway taking you to central is pretty good these days, even at Elephant and Castle (which used to be terrifying). And the bus connections are pretty solid too with loads of them running 24 hours (88 to Camden, 137 to Oxford Circus, 37 to Peckham etc etc etc).

All of that makes it easy to get out anyway.

Overpriced

OK so there’s no arguing with this one. £1000 for a shit studio flat? £1300 for a semi-decent one bed place? Plus Lambeth has the highest council tax in the UK? Hmmmm…

Yeah, valid point. However: London (therefore, it’s all overpriced).

Hopefully I’ve put a few people right on the whole Clapham is shit/I hate Clapham issue. But if you think I’m wrong, I’d love to hear your take on the wonders of south London (or wherever) in the comments section below.

Categories: LondonRant

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