Brent. Powerful word, isn't it. One that that derives from ancient Celtic and translates roughly as 'Era when Ricky Gervais was funny'.
OK, Brent actually means 'holy one' or 'high place' — and it's about time we started celebrating the lofty credentials of the northerly borough. Except we've been beaten to it. In 2020, Brent becomes London's second Borough of Culture. Tapestries are being woven. Mile-long street parties are being plotted. Festivities explode into life in January, with a Danny Boyle-like cacophony of noise and colour — hundreds of locals visualising the story of their borough. But all this is just the icing on the cake for a territory that's been edging towards greatness since it came kicking and screaming into the world in 1965.
The naysayers will point out all those things which lie perplexingly outside the borough's reaches. Brentford isn't in Brent. Most of Brent Reservoir isn't in Brent. Brent Cross? Yeah, not in Brent. The Somerset and Devon villages of Brent? NOT IN BRENT, OK?! Trades Descriptions could come a-knocking any second. Screw them. Brent has plenty going on.
Like any of the 32 boroughs, Brent orbits within the Greater London orrery, but is a planet in itself, and different worlds within that. It is the Metroland of half-timbered suburbia (the Pythonesque ditty Neasden used in John Betjeman's Metroland documentary puts Waterloo Sunset to shame). It is the pubs of County Kilburn, overflowing with Guinness and fiddle music. It's the improbable Neasden Temple — London's most dazzling 3D jigsaw puzzle, and Europe's largest Hindu temple. (Go for the post-aarti vegan curry, you won't regret it.) It's the 1950s bikers time warp of Ace Cafe, dripping with both frying pan and motor grease. It's got an Ikea.
In 2020, every Londoner should try swapping out their usual Everyman experience for the Lexi in Kensal Green. Trade in your evening at Nando's for the Portuguese B Grill in Willesden Green (no website but let their sticky bean stews, enormous steak rolls and £10 litres of wine do the talking). Go for a picnic in Queen's Park, thumb through a novel by Zadie Smith (who lives there), and share your thoughts with another local, Cillian Murphy. Get local council logo envy by eyeing-up Brent's sexy double-figure-of-eight swoop, which presumably tastes like Skittles. It only cost £2,000 to design.
Hmm. Feel like we're forgetting something. Oh yeah. Brent is the centre of the universe. In 2019 it has been visited by Fleetwood Mac, the Spice Girls, South Korean pop deities BTS, and major league American football teams. It's been visited my millions, and watched by millions more across the globe. Yup, Brent is home to Wembley.
We've barely scratched the surface; partly because there's so much going on, partly because we've got more exploring of our own to do. But we're in love with you Brent. We want to spend more time with you. Make it official. And frankly, you had us at that council logo.