Sunday, 24 February 2013

Hamlet, finally

I love the Hamlet Cafe. It's a safe space, a business that flourishes when so many others close. It's a refuge on long cold days when you're tired and want cheering up; and it works just as well when you're happy already and want to share it. It's a Hornsey Road version of Peter Jones, because nothing bad could happen in either.*

It's also tricky to photograph. They keep the lights low, which is wise and good and helps with the atmosphere, but makes pictures come out blurry. So you'll have to trust me when I say that there's a painting of Shakespeare sitting in the cafe, watching over you:

Notice the lights
And that there's an Arsenal poster next to a copy of Delacroix's Gravedigger Scene:

(Photograph turned into fake painting to anonymise faces.)

Delacroix's Gravedigger Scene, original version

The food's decent and cheap (not an easy trick to pull off) but the real flabbergasting miracle is that  they get rich and poor to share a space. I've just been to a free NHS antenatal class where I'd bet on my not-yet-firstborn that the midwife was the worst paid person in the room, and even the hopeful adolescents at Platform know the split between life on the estates and life in the Victorian houses. Hamlet, God bless them, welcomes all. 

Hot chocolate
Go, if you haven't been already. Go again if you have.

*This applies to the cafe, not to the play. Many bad things happen in the play. Standing behind a curtain, for example, is quite unsafe.


  1. This post is really making me miss Hornsey Road. I lived quite close to the Hamlet Cafe and would go there often. The chips are so cheap, but so tasty! Plus it wasn't until my tenth or so visit, when my ex took a photo of the Hamlet painting and Shakespeare quote outside that the name clicked - bit slow there!

  2. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing your pictures of Chatsworth.

  3. Never been to Hamlet, clearly my loss ... On another topic: your latest tagline? 'Probably not over a hellmouth' I got - but 'behind the sun; the world without people' - hmmm.

    1. It's very self-indulgent, I love that speech and it kept on coming to mind. The tenuous link is that on the internet the shabby normality of run down streets is an unexplored land. So I suppose that makes me Ulysses. Hmmmm. That's a bit hubristic.

    2. Perhaps my next tagline should come from the first comment I got on twitter 'whoever writes the Hornsey Road blog is a massively pretentious twat'.

    3. Don't listen to them! Do the next one in Greek. If not Ulysses, maybe, to mix references appropriately to this post, as an attendant lord...

  4. I should say that I did have to look it up ...

  5. The Hamlet cafe is great. I used to take my little girl there for her tea when we were having our kitchen ripped out. They do surprisingly good ice cream, and a good takeaway bacon sandwich if you're playing fast and loose with your cholesterol, and it's just a generous space, somehow.

    I have to say I feel like an idiot not realising that it was called Hamlet for that reason, and not as a misguided tribute to a (probably now defunct brand of) cigar.

    BTW, looks like the bookshop next door has closed, which is a shame.

  6. I just went and had the icecream - you're right it is good.