Julie Hamill: Brent Cross besties

Julie Hamill: Brent Cross besties

I was having an unseasonably low mood day when I remembered I had to pick up a few bits and pieces from the click and collect at Brent Cross Shopping Centre for my daughter, Sadie, who turns 20 in June. Sadie is leaving for acting school in September. This involves her moving out of home for the second time, but it’s been heart-filling to have her buzzing round the house again, bringing life, making mess and leaving shoes by the front door for me to move to the side so nobody trips over them.

I persuade her to come with me, as it’s her day off and I need cheering up.

As we’ve lived in our NW10 home for almost 18 years, Sadie has accompanied me to Brent Cross from pram to toddler to teen and beyond, so she also knows it like an old friend. We are both pretty fond of BX, viewing it as the wee granny of London shopping centres – not massive like Westfield, not busy like Oxford Street, not fancy like King’s Road, not flashy like Knightsbridge. Brent Cross is a small, friendly and welcoming place. I don’t want to personify the old brown building, but if I did, it would be the one wearing a knitted shawl.

We park up and get out the car and I feel better for having Sadie with me, for no real reason – maybe out of habit, maybe out of nostalgia, maybe out of fun.

We zoom around Brent Cross like old familiars: a brief visit to the John Lewis (worryingly, ever-shrinking) haberdashery to get some velvet ribbon for a dress (does nobody sew anymore?), then along to Boots for a peek at the make-up bits and bobs and a heat patch for her sore neck, then a quick nip to click and collect for the SECRET birthday presents (no peeking) before heading out via Pret for a coffee. I love Brent Cross because it’s shaped in such a way that you can get from one side to the other and back into your car within the hour.

Sadie buys the coffees and realises she’s finishing our trip empty-handed, bar the aforementioned heat patch and the drink in her hand.

“Why did you want me to come?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” I reply. “Maybe because you’re my Brent Cross bestie?”

“Aww,” she says, and squeezes my arm.

We jump into the car and drive back home. She kicks off her trainers and runs upstairs.

I leave them there.

Julie Hamill is a novelist, a radio presenter and more. Follow her on X/Twitter. Support OnLondon.co.uk and its writers for just £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Details HERE.


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