‘Highgate? Sorry it’s full’: Crime novelist tells why he’s jealously guarding the village

Matthew Baylis is a crime novelist whose most recent thriller about terror plots in Haringey, called The Tottenham Outrage, was published in June. The 43-year-old moved from Tottenham to Bishops Road in Highgate three years ago and lives with his wife and son.

What brought you to Highgate? Some friends! They’d moved up here in about 2006, when I was in Tottenham. Visiting them, I felt like those people coming up to the “hill country” from the plains in E.M. Forster novels. It was so cool and breezy.

How would you spend your perfect Sunday in Highgate? Sundays are awful whatever you do. An ideal Highgate Saturday, however, would involve walking on the Heath with my family, a fortifying glass of something in The Gatehouse and coming home to make some big, wintry stew.

How has Highgate changed since you moved into the area? I’m not sure it has, much. Every hill seems to be steeper, but that’s because I’ve got fatter.

What tips would you give to somebody moving to the area? It’s full. Sorry. I hear Finchley’s nice.


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What makes you smile on your way home? Local newspaper headlines. Although there hasn’t been a cracker for a while. You need to get on it, Ham&High.

What’s the best memory you have of the area? The winter before last, when Kenwood was covered in snow and my wife, son and I spent the afternoon sledging.

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If you were editor of the Ham&High for a day, what local issue would you champion? Somewhere for kids to learn to ride a bike. You get told off if you do it in the woods and if you don’t have a car, it’s very hard to get a child and a bike up to the Heath. We need a local school to offer a bit of playground.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met? A Belgian nun in Cambodia. I don’t know her name, but she was doing remarkable, brave, humane (and rule-breaking) things to help people not get HIV.

If you had to write your own epitaph what would it say? He’d try anything twice.

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