By Julia Barnes

For a newcomer to the area Fitzrovia News holds open a fascinating window on Fitzrovia.  I enjoy your articles on the social history of the place and the quirky local businesses, but sometimes the view from that window is unremitting bleak; traffic problems, rent hikes, the BID. The gloom can be dispiriting… until the next time I step out of the door in Fitzrovia and feel that energy crackling on the streets and the re-affirmation that there is much more that is positive to this place than the tone of the paper can sometimes suggest.

The recent Griff Rhys Jones article was immensely enjoyable because it managed a balance rarely achieved which extolled all the best of Fitzrovia in a really upbeat article whilst decrying the BID status foisted on the area. It was a rallying cry. I like the idea of Fitzrovia as a quartier, occupying the ground between the smug torpor of the west and the dangerous dark soul of the old city; those who live there are immensely lucky to do so.

Whilst appreciating that community groups and amenity societies are usually waging war on a number of fronts, Fitzrovia News can sometimes seem very entrenched, and could do with coming up for air.

The role of local papers as a forum for pressure groups and community action is exactly right and proper though the window on Fitzrovia that Fitzrovia News holds open can be shaded by campaign fatigue, which can feed into the more positive aspects of the paper; the recent article on the Olympics being one.

Why is it a rule that you don’t smile on the tube? We are living in difficult economic times, and yes the Olympics was an extravagance we could ill afford but having committed to it in other times we must take our pleasure where we can.

We rarely have the opportunity to bond as a nation over something that is neither politically biased nor mawkish, so let us do it without embarrassment for our cool credentials.

It has been tricky moving in at this time with deliveries, etc, but not a huge inconvenience; possibly, dare I say it, fun. Here’s looking forward to more!

One reply on “Your editorial balance is rarely achieved – you could do with coming up for air”

  1. As a not quite new, officially stamped Fitzrovian (“Fitzrovian!” “FITZROVIAN!” “F -I – T -Z -O – V – I – A – N -!” Ring the bicycle horns! Luminesce the BT lighthouse! Max the intruder alarms! Hum the police helicopters! Skip the work commute! Place the dainty step over drunken babbler! Rehydrate at myriad watering holes! Admire the artistry of peeing au natural! Look askew behind the drug dealers! Exasperate the dozy copper! Gurn at radicals! Supplicate to Allah! Dream of dreams, I live in FITZROVIA! My partner has the good fortune to be a fellow FITZROVIAN! My neighbours, without exception each and everyone are … FITZROVIANS and FITZROVIANESSES! FITZROVIA! My friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances and people on the bus may have to be educated as to how stout a concept that is – naturally that they are living in the wrong place and are inadequate as a consequence, but how wonderful it is to be smiled upon by the gods and be granted the boon of Fitzroviahood) pickle who has dipped a toe in the various groups cohorting, the joys of the area are appreciable and brook no argument. The more so if you ignore or are unaware that not everyone is having an easy time of it, or have not explored the history of the efforts which brought the benefits which are to be enjoyed now and which are being threatened by prospective official changes, the effects of which will only be realised some years down the line.

    Griff Rhys-Jones wrote an excellent article but his “balanced” message decrying the need for new park space because of the “quartier” definition is from the perspective of someone without mobility issues who lives opposite a green private square, to which he has full access, with plenty of light in a big home with plenty of big rooms in the northern-most part of Fitzrovia, closest to Regent’s Park which is easy to get to from there. He does not have an ordinary, regular job with a lunch break which barely gives enough time to walk to and from Regent’s park. That is not to begrudge him or the residents of Fitzroy Sq or any of the well-healed but there are plenty of residents, some of whom do have mobility problems and are aged and others for whom time including the walk to get to Regent’s Park from the other side of Fitzrovia during a lunch break is too far, who live in small flats without much natural light because of the building density of their streets. The luck of living in the area is real to you and real to others and real to me but in the interests of the balance you seek there are pressures for which social amenity provide some mitigation and the pointing out of negative issues does, hopefully, effect positive improvements. And then there are also the people who work here, and the influx of thousands who will be working after Crossrail is in place, which will have a dramatic, profound and overwhelming impact. If you focus on how you feel outside your door on any given morning you will not see what is coming and what will come if people do not take an interest and get involved. The rent hikes were very upsetting for those effected and there are lots of examples of people who have been forced to leave the area as a consequence.

    Let us take our pleasures where we may. May people smile when their smiles reveal what is felt and not what is obliged or contrived. Let it not be required that everyone put on a face and pretend that everything is all right when they do not see things that way. A grouch who does not conform is the mark of a free society. At least the grouches of Fitzrovia News are all grouped in one place so you can avoid Tottenham St in safety. From time to time, they do expose what the corporate and council smilers are smiling to conceal, and in doing so they do something invaluable for little remuneration, reward and with sometimes, misdirected opprobrium.

    The Olympiad piece is less than effusive. It is well documented that trade has been negatively effected in parts by the staging of the Olympics. That experience is legitimate, perhaps soured by the promises which were made about the economic boon. On the plus side, the sunny pictures of a glorious games are likely to be a boost in the reputation of the “world Capital” and attract future visitors and investors. Perhaps, over the long term things will work out. FN has remained a little detached from the shiny medals and kept its head. It is not for piaffing, unless there is piaffing here.

    The job of the local newspaper is also to document for future researchers and historians the issues of the day. There is more of a problem of Fitzrovia News focusing on issues which have nothing to do with the area which are well documented elsewhere while FN is an important singular resource for this area and that thought should be kept to the fore. It is well known that the Fitzrovia News is off putting to many in the mainstream and that is something which should be explored.

    You acknowledge that various groups are campaigning, sometimes even with the welfare of the wider area in mind, and that is “right and proper.” Without them many of those “quirky local businesses” will almost certainly disappear in a few short years. In the interests of balance, I think that you do not appreciate just how much work goes into preserving the aspects that many of us love about being in dear Fitzroviadom. Please, please, please do get involved and bring your positive energy with you!

    Thank you.

    Oh, and sink the bloody BID!

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