Not too posh and not too rough. Not a bad start for a profile on a dating site. It also happens to be how I see Whitecross Street.
Anyone you speak to is liable to suddenly say, ‘I love this street!.’ And I know what they mean. They mean ‘thank god there are still real people in real shops and stalls, thank god everything hasn’t been tarted up, thank god this place has not become Covent Garden, thank god you can meet for a coffee and sit in the park and it’s not overrun with tourists.’
(Admittedly, many of the people who actually live here are probably thinking, ‘If only we could get rid of these latte-drinking interlopers hanging around here, ruining our neighbourhood,’ but I hope they will continue to put up with us.)
Lockdown devastated this street. This is a picture in the middle of a business day in 2020.
That was then. Now it’s a new start. So, I was sitting outside Fix Coffee Shop one sunny Spring morning, and I was watching stall holders I hadn’t seen since March 2020 putting up their stalls for the first time this year. Not everyone was back – there were many gaps between stalls along the street – but there were many familiar faces. Many of them were people I had quite possibly never had a conversation with. But suddenly I felt a real happiness that they had survived and were restarting their businesses on Whitecross Street. Human resilience. And I was happy that I had survived too.
Then a guy at the next table stood up and started doing exercise twists, and – yes, absolutely true – announced to everyone, ‘I really love this street’.
And that made me think it would be good to do something to celebrate survival and recovery. And I had the idea of doing this website as a small contribution to helping ‘friends’ I’ve never met – but who share the fact that we are all emerging from our own individual bunkers into the sunlight in the same street – to generate some business. That is the purpose of this website and I hope it will prove useful.