by Stan Moorcroft, Kensington and Chelsea Community Reporter
I used to have a daydream. It consisted of me walking down Portobello Road being greeted by all the stallholders and cheekily pinching an apple with a wink as I nod to friends and acquaintances. Some people may indeed experience Portobello like that, in fact I’m sure some do, but not me.
But though the daydream has faded into the past Portobello Market still shines as brightly as ever, turning what would otherwise still be an attractive and creative area, into a vibrant one. Festive and upbeat, it is the artery linking Notting Hill Gate with Golborne. The two separate worlds meeting amidst the buskers and the flea market clothing of Upper Portobello and Golborne. Portobello, a major London tourist attraction, drawing visitors from across the globe.
So, back to my relationship with the market. This morning I am buying my cheese from the wonderful French Cheese kiosk, fresh bread from the wide array of choices available at the corner bread stall. Then some wild mushrooms and olives from the stalls between Talbot Road and Westbourne Park Road. In such moments Portobello belongs to me. Though soon I will head home for coffee and Camembert spread on freshly baked bread, leaving the market to the sunshine and tourists.
If there is one word that is greatly overused in contemporary life it is the word ‘community.’ The word conjuring up visions of neighbours chatting over the garden fence, doors happily left open, the street party or community trip to Margate. Life however is rarely like that these days. Cities consist of atomised individuals, or families who interact, if at all on the communal ground created by shopping. Portobello represents the finest example of such communal ground, a place for atomised individuals to interact and to connect with others. So on those mornings that I weave my way through the crowds of tourists, say hello to the woman who works in Poundland and exchange pleasantries with the young French guy in the cheese kiosk, I am community, and I am Portobello.
So to Portobello and Golborne on their 150th Birthday, I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and long may the market prosper. I won’t be around for the 200th but I am sure there will be one.