Let's move to a bit of south London with no tube and prams everywhere! This week: Crystal Palace

What’s it about?

One of South London’s most leafy and desirable postcodes. Revel in its lack of Tube stop, the exorbitant house prices and the pavements crawling with former PR managers called Tabitha pushing pramfuls of yowling kids.

Popular with Londoners starting families and desperately needing to get out of Brixton or Clapham. It’s got that village feel, like the film Village of the Damned where identical hypereducated evil kids kill outsiders.

Any good points? 

The main hub is the Crystal Palace triangle: three streets which feature everything from wanky pubs to wanky cafes to wanky pubs that do coffees to wanky cafes that sell beer. Stray too far from it and everything turns menacingly bohemian.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a thriving antiques scene with shops selling period furniture, vintage clothing and classic vinyl, all priced just above what it would fetch on eBay. Sift carefully and you too could walk home with a milk churn, a pommel horse and a grubby 50s armchair for just £1,565.

The triangle has several traffic lights to help yummy mummies whose style icon is Carrie Johnson to cross roads while drinking their Kombucha and pushing 4×4 all-terrain SUV prams. The one-way system, a mystery to all, guarantees a backlog of honking, idling traffic pumping carbon monoxide into the air, which goes especially well with the Saturday farmers’ market.

Wonderful landscape?

There’s no point lying – it’s hilly as f**k. One of the highest points in London, as the locals never tire of telling people. Which not only makes the walk from the overground station staggeringly steep but is a magnet for middle-aged men in Lycra pumping uphill like they’re Lance Armstrong climbing l’Alpe d’Huez, but even bigger cunts.

The jewel in the crown is Crystal Palace park, a huge green space best known for siting something impressive that burned down in 1936. The glass-and-ironwork Palace was built for the Great Exhibition, covered nearly a million square feet and would surely tower spectacularly over the area if it was there.

To mark this incredible architectural achievement, there now stands absolutely nothing, apart from a grassy area used by dog walkers. The most impressive thing you’ll see there today is a Great Dane taking a shit.

The major draw to the park remains its Victorian dinosaurs, concrete models built for the Exhibition by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, an enthusiastic amateur who had to guess what dinosaurs looked like because science didn’t know. It shows.

Hang out at…

Crystal Palace FC, the local football team. Which is actually in Selhurst, a 30-40 minute walk from Crystal Palace station. Which means on a Saturday afternoon, the high street of yoga studios and art galleries is full of Burnley fans there in error.

The locals have gentrified the triangle so much that Wetherspoons and Costa Coffee have recently been forced out. So, if you’re thirsty why not stop for a pint at a pub that sells Padron Peppers instead of dry roasted nuts? And local, small batch IPA instead of Carling. Twice the price and you might strike up a friendship with a graphic designer called Rafe who’s there for the wifi.

The park’s disagreeably full of events, like the perpetual funfair on the gravel bit near the bus station where all the rats and crows live. This attracts scum from miles around, all using loos in gastropubs without even buying a bottle of Pinot Grigio Blush.

There’s also the three-day Wireless Festival which brings Gen Z to the area. Artists whose music will upset anyone living within a mile of the park this summer include A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti and Doja Cat.

Where to buy?

Anywhere you can afford, which is nowhere. A one-bed flat will set you back about four hundred grand. Or buy in a nearby area and say you’re in Crystal Palace. There’s no exact rule boundary, but everyone will know you’re really in Sydenham or Penge.

From the streets: 

Julian Cook, aged 37: “I commute into the city, which is only seven miles but still takes up three hours of my day. Still, the Sunday Times says it’s the best place to live in London so presumably those 15 hours commuting a week are fucking great.”

Francesca Johnson, aged 36: “It’s a wonderful place to have children, which is why we’re pricing ordinary working-class families out of the area. Because only my children need green space.”

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Mash Blind Date: a 51-year-old and his 19-year-old sexy barista dream date who's frankly horrified

UNFULFILLED divorcee Tom Booker has long lusted after Sophie Rodriguez, the hot barista he speaks to daily. She’s not keen. They’re on a date. 

Tom on Sophie

First impression?

She looked even more stunning than I could ever have hoped, her youth and beauty just glowing out of her. I felt as proud to have her on my arm as I am when I get out of my F-Type Jag. With Sophie, I’m finally the man I was meant to be.

How was conversation? 

Dragged at first. I’d assumed she’d want to talk about coffee, as that’s mainly what we’ve discussed in the past, but apparently it’s not a real interest. So she talked about being from Kosovo and art and some other stuff, I’m hazy on what. Then I told her about work for 50 minutes.

Memorable moments?

Just sitting opposite such a gorgeous vision, her skin so fresh and unlined, her bosoms so noticeably perky, a full 35 years younger than my ex-wife. I was lost in her eyes.

Favourite thing about Sophie? 

Everything about her. Her innocence, her looks, basking in the envy of every other man there. Conversation-wise she doesn’t know a lot about financial instruments.

A capsule description? 

A vision from heaven. But it’s weird that she’s so unknowledgeable about popular culture like Jaws or Radiohead or the 1999 total eclipse. I asked why she’d never seen The Wire she said ‘I think it was before I was born’ which was hilarious. It wasn’t, was it?

Was there a spark? 

Certainly from my side it was incandescent. But now I think about it there were some long silences on hers, broken only by confusingly discouraging statements like ‘There isn’t any way we could ever be in a relationship.’ You’ll have to ask her!

What happened afterwards? 

I was floating on air as I squired her to my vehicle, which she declined to get in and ordered an Uber. No, no kiss but I respect that. I wouldn’t want her being easy like the girls in porn.

What would you change about the evening? 

I think Soph should learn more about adult interests because I got a me-me-me vibe when she was talking. That would be lovely and polite. Also not to object when I call her ‘Soph’.

Will you see each other again?  

I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t want to. She’s the girl of my dreams.

Sophie on Tom

First impression?

Oh, it’s the dad from the coffeeshop. Why’s he here? I thought I was going on a date?

How was conversation? 

Weird if I’m honest. He didn’t say much but was really starey. It was just awkward waiting for his son or grandson or whoever I was dating to turn up. He made some small talk about coffee, as he does, but I explained that’s just my job.

Memorable moments?

For me it was the moment when he ordered not just starters but main courses and champagne and I realised I was actually on a date with someone twice my age. Closer to three times my age than twice my age. I’ll always remember thinking ‘what the fucking fuck?’

Favourite thing about Tom? 

He’s quite gentlemanly, in an old-fashioned sexist, borderline-misogynist way. Also the way he knew nothing and paid no attention to anything I was saying was remarkably freeing. I told him my dad was Tom Holland and he didn’t have a fucking clue.

A capsule description? 

An old man with no interest in me or anything I say who’s decided I will complete his world.

Was there a spark? 

I explained he was far too old for me, didn’t know me, and there was no prospect of a relationship. He replied ‘So we’re just going to see where this leads.’

What happened afterwards? 

I went home, hooked up with a girl on Hinge and we did in two bags of coke watching Euphoria. 

What would you change about the evening? 

I hope this doesn’t hurt him. He seems like an okay guy. I hope he doesn’t in any way try to pursue this as if there were any possibility of a romantic connection.

Will you see each other again?  

I will serve him a latte and avoid his gaze.