My West Hampstead: Award-winning music journalist and author Charles Shaar Murray

17:00 17 January 2014

Music writer Charles Shaar Murray selling his books, CDs  and records at West Hampstead Market. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Music writer Charles Shaar Murray selling his books, CDs and records at West Hampstead Market. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email

Award-winning music journalist and author Charles Shaar Murray, 62, became well known for his antics while writing in NME and OZ magazines. Since moving to West Hampstead in 1998 he says he’s been “on his best behaviour”.

What brought you to West Hampstead?

After leaving the Islington shoebox-in-the-sky, which I’d inhabited for 25 years, I sought somewhere quiet but not remote, funky but not actually dangerous, and artsy but not pretentious.

Now I’m comfortably settled in leafy West Hampstead, and will need to be forcibly removed, kicking and screaming.

How has the area changed?

I mourn the disappearance of so many proper shops selling proper stuff, like the butchers, fishmongers, electrical stores and “boring hardware store”.

If you were guest editor of the Ham & High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported?

I’d focus on the way the council seems to be rubber-stamping planning permission for so much high rise luxury apartment building, with little or no consideration for affordable social housing or additional parking facilities, let alone the unique character of the neighbourhood.

What is the area’s best-kept secret?

My Hothouse Project: Journalism As Craft And Art course, of course! Unabashed plug!

But also, a great bookshop – West End Lane Books, locally sourced free entertainment at the Brioche, historic musical echoes from the 1960s in Broadhurst Gardens.

Here’s to hoping the late Doris Lessing’s former home in Gondar Gardens rates a blue plaque sometime soon.

Which other place in the world would you twin with West Hampstead if you could?

It’d be a toss-up between St Ives in Cornwall and New York’s Greenwich Village circa 1968.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Still pondering mine, but considering, “I think I can do it better. Can we try that again?”

Charles Shaar Murray was in conversation with Paul Wright.


Latest News Stories

Police attended as a group of travellers arrived at the Liddell Road site. Picture by local resident, 'Jon'

A group of travellers has moved into a council-owned site in West Hampstead, prompting a short-lived standoff with the police.

Neelu Berry, who was cleared of all charges, arriving at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court yesterday

A woman has been cleared of having “vexed” a priest and disrupting a Sunday service.

Natalia Czekaj died after being stabbed more than 20 times by James Richardson

The loved ones of a barmaid who was stabbed more than 20 times during a frenzied attack say they have been left “disgusted” by the British justice system after a judge said her killer should only spend four years in jail because he is an alcoholic.

Actor Jim Carter joins the

Actor Jim Carter, who plays Carson in Downton Abbey, joined protestors in West Hampstead in their bid to prevent a pair of six and seven storey tower blocks being built on their doorstep.

Alex Lyons with her children Oscar, five, and Benjy, three.

 Picture: Nigel Sutton

A loophole allowing families to get their children into the most popular primary schools despite living miles outside catchment areas is set to be closed by Haringey Council following complaints from parents and carers.

Yesterday, 13:46
Camden Borough Commander CS Penny Banham. Picture: Polly Hancock

Camden’s new top cop has criticised proposals put forward by Hampstead residents to fund their own police officers – saying it would “not set a good precedent” for the rest of London.

Yesterday, 11:18
Athlone House, taken in 2011. Picture: Michael Hammerson

The owners of historic Athlone House near Hampstead Heath are to take their bid to demolish the mansion to the High Court.

Yesterday, 09:52
A 22-year-old man was stabbed at Walker House in Phoenix Street, Somers Town

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after a man was stabbed at a block of flats in Somers Town, Camden.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder