Highgate Mums’ Dan Hall: ‘The irony is Highgate is now too expensive for Highgate Mums’
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BRIDGET GALTON talks to Dan Hall whose overheard Twitter account has captured a middle-class sensibility around lifestyles and child-rearing
Back in 2012, Dan Hall regularly worked on his laptop in Highgate’s coffee shops surrounded by a gaggle of mums and their kids.
The former scriptwriter would often cock an eyebrow at their overheard chatter, and post the more outrageous comments on his personal Facebook.
It was when one declared: “The problem with poor people is they don’t realise chorizo sausages are better value than sausage rolls,” that Hall discovered the perfect marriage between this often hilarious material and social media website Twitter.
#Highgatemums and the spin off #Lattedads has thousands of followers with the highlights compiled in Highgate Mums (Atlantic Books, £7.99)
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“I was running my own company and didn’t have an office so to stop myself going insane I used to go to Cote or Café Nero in Highgate High Street,” he says.
“I have always liked listening to rhythms of speech and overheard conversations and my friends loved the silliness of it.”
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Hall, who grew up in Finchley and Highgate and works for a Film and TV distribution company is aware of charges of misogyny and sneeriness against the account.
“A friend laid into me saying ‘you’re a late 30s single childless gay man what right do you have to laugh at these people?’ It’s a fair criticism, it’s easy to point the finger at someone whose life you don’t understand and mock them. I acknowledge that I only heard those conversations because I am in those cafes and able do my job on a laptop.”
He was happier when others started tweeting their confessions about their middle-class offspring and childrearing as being ‘very Highate Mum’.
“It started off being about pointing the finger but hit a critical mass and became about laughing at yourself and your kids,” says Hall who adds that a large section of followers are “exactly the people it’s about.”
“Tweets are from all over the country. Highgate Mums is nothing to do with gender or being in Highgate. It’s more of a middle-class sensibility. Although we are laughing at it, to find it funny you have to think at least a third of it has a point.”
Hall observes that the mums help to gentrify areas as their territory shifts to Tufnell Park and Holloway.
“I used to go to Highgate, then Archway took off. The irony is Highgate is now too expensive for the Highgate Mums. You don’t get them in the Village any more, although the teens from Channing are always good value.
“The Spoke in Holloway Road and Bread and Bean in Junction Road are prime spots. Both are near the Montessori school and if you time a visit just after parents’ evening you can’t write them down fast enough.”
He adds: “I’ve just moved next to Brixton Prison and they’re here too. It’s clearly where Archway was four years ago.”
Hall observes the mums are predominantly intelligent women who have applied their previous career focus to childrearing.
They tend to compete with “humble bragging” about intelligent offspring whereas the Latte Dads are “obsessed with asserting their masculinity.”
The only time Hall was riled was when one mum said it was reasonable to be suspicious of any man who doesn’t have a current CRB check.
“That pissed me off and another who said the safety of children came before the freedoms and rights of everyone else or that Waterlow Park should be a family only space where men on their own aren’t allowed.”