’ve lived in and represented the area for a very long time. I’d hitchhiked to London and the lorry driver dropped me off on Holloway Road, so I stayed on. Finsbury Park and Holloway grow on you.
I lived in Harringay when I represented South Hornsey ward and moved back to Finsbury Park in 1984, after I was elected for Islington North in 1983.
Walking around with me is very slow — someone will always stop me in the street to follow up on or raise new issues, so I never leave home without my notebook.
The fascinating part of it is watching families grow up and people moving in and out. People from all over the world make their home here, so there’s a lovely atmosphere. It’s a great place. It’s home.
Eating and drinking
Arsenal is a big feature of the area. The Blackstock, on the corner of Seven Sisters and Blackstock Road, is the best pub for watching football.
The Bedford Tavern, also on Seven Sisters Road, is run by a good friend of mine. I’m not a drinker, but I enjoy his apple juice. He does live music, which is welcome because there’s been a loss of venues.
Girasole on Seven Sisters Road is a nice Italian café for breakfast. I’m a regular at the Blue Owl Café, a wonderful, friendly café for snacks and socialising with the Kurdish hosts.
Gadz, on Clifton Terrace, does a mean falafel wrap and roll which is kindly named after me: The Jeremy Special. And I can’t leave out my son’s place, The National Hemp Service, on Stroud Green Road. He serves coffee as well as CBD products.
There’s a nice Uyghur restaurant called Dilara on Blackstock Road, where there are also a number of Algerian restaurants. Pizza Pappagone, on Stroud Green Road, is always full. When England lost the Euros final they rushed out and let off fireworks — people were initially annoyed, but then they joined the party.
Where I work out
The best place to run is Finsbury Park. The only problem is that people stop me, wanting to talk. I use the gym at the Sobell Centre on Hornsey Road.
The pools at Highbury Fields and Archway aren’t far, and there’s an ice rink at Alexandra Palace. The W7 and W3 buses go straight up to it.
To commune with nature
As well as Finsbury Park, I go to Wray Crescent Open Space. I’ve got an aerial photo taken in the early Seventies that shows it as housing, before it was bought by the council and demolished to make space for a park.
I like to walk along the Parkland Walk. Haringey had aspirations to build housing on it, but planning permission was refused. I was chair of planning at that time and we turned it into the Parkland Walk. It’s lovely.
I prefer to support local, independent stores if I can. I shop at Finsbury Food Market on Seven Sisters Road.
There’s an excellent hardware store a couple of doors down called QHP — Quality House Products— which is run by a lovely guy, a refugee, who stocks just about everything.
For a culture fix
We’ve got Park Theatre on Clifton Terrace, which Jez Bond had the inspiration to open. He does his best to keep prices very low, and to involve the local community and schools. We’ve also got a new Picturehouse cinema in the new development around the station.
New Beacon Books is an Afro-Caribbean bookshop and publisher on Stroud Green Road which was opened in 1966 by John La Rose, a Trinidadian poet. His son is still running the bookshop, which is collectively owned by the community.
The BookBar on Blackstock Road is a bookshop and café. Further up, at Highbury Park, there’s also Ink@84. FC Designer Workspace on Fonthill Road is a co-operative workplace.
I’m no more than 20 minutes away from any part of my constituency by bike, so I cycle or walk. TfL are making cycle routes on Seven Sisters Road and Isledon Road. Car ownership is less than 25 per cent in Finsbury Park, partly because of the excellent public transport.
Finsbury Park is a very busy station with two Tube lines, the Thameslink and services to King’s Cross, Stevenage and Peterborough. There’s a phenomenal number of buses too.
I like the one I’m on. It’s very friendly and very mixed.
Something you only see in Finsbury Park
The combination of cultural diversity, superb public transport links and the feeling that you are very much a part of the rest of the world as well as your own community. That’s very valuable to me.
What’s the catch?
The traffic can be heavy, particularly on Seven Sisters Road.
In three words.
Centre of (the) universe.
Finsbury Park boasts six outstanding primaries, including Ambler, Gillespie and Grazebook. There are a further 12 schools rated as good.
For secondaries, Highbury Fields School is the top choice nearby, with Skinners’ Academy, Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form and Arts and Media School Islington all popular options.
What it costs
Buying in Finsbury Park
Average flat price: £540,320
Average house price: £1,149,980
Renting in Finsbury Park
Average flat: £2,080 pcm
Average house: £3,540 pcm
Source: Hamptons & Land Registry