Why East London’s the coolest place on earth right now

Marie Claire's production editor Susan Henderson always knew that East London was the best place to live on the planet. Now the rest of the world is falling under its charm ahead of the London 2012 Olympics...

Marie Claire’s production editor Susan Henderson always knew that East London was the best place to live on the planet. Now the rest of the world is falling under its charm ahead of the London 2012 Olympics…

Over the next few weeks the world’s attention will be focused on my neighbourhood in east London.

After a seven-year build-up, the Olympics are finally here – and the surface to air missiles visible on the rooftop opposite my house are a surreal reminder of the enormity of it all!

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I moved to Bow 15 years ago and although it’s hardly the most glamorous part of London, the East End’s got character in spades – and it’s steeped in history.

But how many of the London 2012 sports fans swarming towards the attention-grabbing architecture of the Olympic park will notice St Mary’s church, which has just celebrated its 700th anniversary? Or the historic nunnery opposite that’s now part of the Bow Arts Trust?

Will they realise that the missile site is actually the former Bryant & May match factory? Scene of the famous match girls’ strike of 1888 – a milestone in the trade union movement don’t you know.

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I hope, at least, they don’t miss the attractions of nearby Victoria Park – acres of glorious leafy greenery and London’s oldest public park.

Recent regeneration work has seen lakes dredged and gardens redesigned and replanted – there’s even a brand new Chinese pagoda (fancy!). I just hope the London 2012 Olympic visitors get some sunny days to fully appreciate it all.

I’ll be there, rain or shine, at the Olympic closing festival celebrating the end of what I hope will have been a successful and trouble-free London 2012 and no doubt looking forward to life in my little neck of the woods returning to normal.

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