In November 2014, when my former officespace closed, my old and dear friend Dan Garber of Record Play and The Monitors called me up:
“I think we can make space for you in our place. Come and try it out. It’ll be better for you than going back to working from home again.”
A god-send. Working at home can make you crazy, and after having a space in King’s Cross away from my house for two years, I had no desire to become a house-bound writer again.
And thus, for 18 months I had the pleasure and the privilege of working in the middle of hipster Shoreditch, in an airy listed building with massive windows and wooden floors, with space for all my stuff and the keys to the building so I could come in on weekends (as I frequently did) to work. Keeping my work out of my home helps me stay sane.
With speakers positioned in every corner, we played music all day every day (except during conference calls) – after all, it’s their *job* to keep track of what’s going on in the music industry. So the environment suited me – a child of the music industry – perfectly. Music is my first love.
When it was silent, almost invariably somebody would murmer “More tunes…”
Best of all I sat between two of my oldest and dearest friends, Dan and Kier.
Just to put in perspective how old and how dear, the moment Kier and I first became friends was captured on a disposable camera (remember those?) at Glastonbury’s stone circle in 2003.
When I first met Dan (or Mongo as he will always be known to me) in 2005 I said “What do you do?” and he said “I’m a promoter.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” (My dad’s a promoter, and he worked from home, so I understand the agony and the pain.) He laughed heartily.
“Well, if you have a gig, I will be there.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before.”
“Nope. If you put something on, I will be there.”
And I kept my word (as much as I could.) I’m a promoter’s kid, and I worked at a venue for five years. I know the enormous difference that having just ten more friends in the room – even if you’re losing money – can make to your soul.
For 18 wonderful months I worked side by side with my two best friends, listening to music, watching videos of Corbyn and Trump, chatting politics, taking time out for important things like Tony Blair’s ‘confessional’ at the Chilcot release, and toiling away at our regular duties. With people to chat to and having such a fun, nurturing, positive space, I got way more done on a daily basis than I have… probably ever.
And best of all: every single day Mongo made me laugh to the point of tears. Every single day. Laughter is medicine, and enjoying the space you work in is priceless. Especially when you’re toiling over huge amounts of gritty details or pondering the ramifications of a contract.
Sadly a year ago everyone in the building was informed we’d have to leave. The landlord is – predictably – going to renovate the whole thing and turn it into more upscale office space for the innumerable “creative agencies” (aka advertising agencies) that work in the area. So more of this kind of thing. Record Play had been there 11 years. The designers next to us had been there since the early *90s*. It was emotional for me, but certainly more so for everyone else.
Still, emotional it was. So of course we had to have a smashing party to celebrate the end of an era, with the folks next door, who invited in some lovely people 20 years our senior who had worked in the buildling decades ago.
I miss it a lot. Already. Totally welled up when I got all my stuff home. I was in mourning for a month preparing for this.
But how many writers get to spend a year and a half working on their own projects, but side by side every single day with their best friends? Not many.
Long Live 45-46 Charlotte Rd. You might host more lucrative agencies in a year – but you’ll never have this much character or laughter within your walls ever again.