Ham & High

London A-Z - Muswell Hill

Muswell Hill is the highest point in London, some 37 miles above sea-level. Few are aware that it is built on stilts funded by the National Lottery. Athletes do their altitude training here and many of the taller residents suffer nosebleeds. The name Muswell stems from a natural spring which was said to have miraculous properties not unlike those found in the fish and chips at Toff's. Muswell Hill is a family area with a village feel like Trumpton. It is also home to Alexandra Palace where the Queen lives. The very first BBC broadcast was transmitted from Ally Pally in 1584, though hardly anyone tuned in. Now it is mainly used for ice skating, antique fares and heavyweight boxing. The views from the Palace are amazing: on a clear day, you can see America.

Famous residents of Muswell include Tucker from Grange Hill, Gareth from The Office, and that chap from Tucker's Luck. Muswell Hill does not have a tube, providing it with a sense of mystery not a single person knows exactly where it is. It was first put on the map by 60s beat combo The Kinks. The Kinks' 1971 album, Muswell Hillbillies, was a very direct reference to their birthplace (Muswell Hill). Another former resident is Denis Nielsen. Nielsen is famous for blocking the drains on Cranley Gardens. Thankfully, however, he is now securely behind bars (not local bars, either).

Muswell Hill is mainly peopled by young families and is seen as a safe place to live, grow and breathe. It is also the embodiment of middle class living you can tell how middle class it is by the high price of grapes, though the grapes are always of an extremely high standard. It boasts a pub that used to be a church, a church that used to be a pub, and has its own nightclub, N10, an idea it stole from EastEnders' E20.

In recent years there has been considerable bother over Art for Art's Sake, a local shop with a facia in the style of doped-up Spanish architect Gaudi. Despite 15 billion people signing a petition in its favour, the council said NO. Sadly the owner was recently spotted ripping down the controversial shop front whilst dabbing his eyes with an oily rag.

If Muswell Hill were a person, it would be Tony Blair: high-up, presentable, and with lots of children.

© copyright 2008 Saul Wordsworth
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