One of the ES Magazine’s recent articles left me giggling out loud on the Tube a couple of months ago. It was about a certain virus all Londoners are familiar with – PDS or Postcode Displacement Syndrome.
PDS is that feeling that you belong somewhere else, in some other part of London. It’s not always pretentiousness that drives people toward this sense of detachment from their existent postcode. Take me, for example. Outside the confines of cosy Limehouse marina, I usually grab the DLR and head straight for the Central Line towards W1 or City of London whatever chance I get. I think it’s force of habit, having studied and worked around certain parts of the city – Fleet Street, Guildhall, South Kensington, Little Venice. I need to see the corner glimpse of St Paul’s or Bank of England to get my bearings.
I suppose I’ve never fully accepted my identity as an East Londoner. I prefer white stucco front houses, Grecian columns and cherry blossom trees much more over the Old Street roundabout and the graffiti (no matter how Instagram- or filter-friendly Brick Lane or Shoreditch may be). But I also wonder whether or not East London would fully accept me. My fashion sense is not edgy enough, for example; I don’t wear red/black gingham and can’t pull off an effortless top-knot bun (at the risk of upsetting East Londoners, of course, that’s not all East London is about!).
I do think that’s the subliminal reason for not having explored East London beyond brunch at Spitalfields or Shoreditch. I worry I’ll stand out like a sore thumb. So, other places like Hoxton and Hackney are still uncharted waters.
And that’s the reason why it took me five years living in London, to finally step off Hoxton station for the first time ever and visit Columbia Road Flower Market.
Although it’s a visual treat, the market is very crowded so I would recommend going early in the morning, picking flowers and then heading for brunch later. Watch with amusement and fascination in equal parts as the local vendors try to outsell other fellow stall owners. Get some coffee but you might struggle to juggle your paper cup with the lovely tulips and giant orchids you’ll inevitably end up buying!
Remember that the most beautiful flowers are actually towards the middle of the road, so if you’re in a hurry, don’t wait until the end to take out your wallet. It’s quite a bustling market, and so if you’re pressed for time, don’t contemplate making a u-turn back towards the denser middle section as there are too many people moving in all directions. I missed giant, bulbous tulips in an assortment of colours and had to settle for smaller ones in a dull lilac in the end because I couldn’t turn back. So, tarry a while, but don’t think too much before picking a bouquet!