Monday, 21 February 2011

The oldest swingers in (Camden) town

So here we are, walking through Camden at 11 o’clock at night, in a surreal kind of haze, rubbing shoulders with the bohos and the young. We’re in a London bubble, away for the weekend and mouths agape at the ever-changing tableau before us.

Mr Grigg comes over all poetic:

‘As I walk along the street

every person that I meet

no-one is older than me.’

Everyone is under twenty five, apart from two drunks in a broken-up phone box.

We wander down to Mornington Crescent tube station, which for years we thought really only existed in the Radio 4 panel game I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. We’re heading for Club Koko, a majestic-looking former theatre and now a music venue for the hip and trendy.

The music hits us, boom, boom, boom, as we make our way through the young throng and head for the tea house downstairs for a nice cuppa.

This, you see, is a sell-out gig by Mr Scruff, a DJ-extraordinaire whose music Wikipedia describes as downtempo, trip-hop and nu-jazz. He is also a huge tea fan. I once let slip to Number One Son that I liked Mr Scruff's music. So he only went and bought us tickets for Christmas.

We are fish, fish, fish out of water. We take our big cups of tea and go upstairs in this glorious baroque-style theatre, which was opened by Ellen Terry in 1900. I feel the spirit of this celebrated actress looking over my shoulder on to an alien world. A pulsating dance floor, Mr Scruff on stage pressing buttons and his naïve cartoons smiling at us from screens at his side.

A smiley-faced student asks if I will take a photo of him and his mates on the balcony overlooking the stage.

From the safety of a comfy seat, I press the shutter. He sidles up to me and says:

‘Um, why are you here..?

I explain the Christmas gift.

‘Are you enjoying it?’ he says.

‘Immensely,’ I say.

He looks across to Mr Grigg, whose arms are folded and whose face is wearing a pugnacious glare.

‘What about him?’ the boy gestures.

‘Oh, yes, we both love Mr Scruff,’ I say. I get the feeling this photo might soon be doing the rounds of Facebook under the title of: ‘The oldest swingers in town’.

I am very tempted to lie and say we love Mr Scruff because we’re his parents. But I don’t and I’m glad I don’t because Mr Scruff is thirty nine which would have made me ten years old when I had him.

It then occurs to me that, actually, if Mr Grigg is the oldest one here and I’m the second oldest, that would make Mr Scruff the third oldest. And these young ‘uns have paid good money to see him.

So Mr Grigg and I slap our tea cups on the table, get up and wobble those legs.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Camden is achingly young and tries very hard to be trendy, according to one of the young 'uns in the office. I must say Maddie you have educated me about Mr Scruff, I had never heard of hi. Perhaps you could share a play list on Spotify?

  2. apart from two drunks in a broken-up phone box.

    This is a poignant description - not only because of the drunkenness and the broken phone box, but also because they're over 25.

    I like your observations (and laughed at "we are fish, fish, fish out of water")

  3. I love this post!! YOU could never be too old for any crowd!!

  4. Darling, you should live in Victoria - it's retirement heaven and anyone under 60 is routinely called 'Miss'. I'm eternally young here!

  5. Ignorance is bliss. My son (23) has been going to Koko since he was in the sixth form, so I would never have dared to. Good for you and Mr Grigg! I now I have to go and look up Mr Scruff. Perhaps I can teach my kids a thing or two?

  6. Ha ha! You were most certainly not the oldest there!Me and the Lovely Gent beat you and Mr. Grigg by a few years.
    I completely get what you are talking about tho'. I felt ancient of years and was looked upon with suspicion and doubt on visiting the ladies..I guess I looked like security?
    Like you I too thought that mebbe Mr. S and us would have more to say to each other than the ecstatic young 'uns.I certainly felt that I had equal ownership of the music.
    My Offspring No. 2 asked if we were the oldest there and then lamely added 'You didn't dance ...did you?'If only she knew.
    I suppose the thing that set us apart was the obedience that seniority has instilled in us. My pal who was also there and only one of our Earth years more than you told me that she had obeyed every command on the screens and had bought tea and wobbled her legs.
    Carry on wobblying!

    Love The OLDEST swinger in Town

  7. I'm right there with you on the 'fish out of water' thing. And I have gray hair and when I told my friends that I am going to be 50 this year they looked sooooo shocked like nobody could possibly be that old and still be able to walk!
    But I have bought a van and covered it with dragons and tend to grow old disgracefully as until now I have been very good and well behaved.

  8. Do you know, this posting seems to have struck a chord with readers, whether they've heard of Mr Scruff or not. You've made me laugh out loud (sorry, refuse to put lol). I think I need a Camden Town fix at least every six weeks. Bring it on. See you there girls?
    Love Maddie x

  9. Hey! i actually saw you guys chilling on the balcony. My brother made a comment stating 'they are the coolest!', and I wholeheartedly agreed.

    The impression that the youth of today are ageist is a common misconception. If anything the scruffy youth are screaming out for a touch of the sophistication that comes with age. Why do you think vintage culture has been trendy for the past years? in my experience youth tend to celebrate the mature enthusiast who love what they love because they know how to live! (Unless it's my own dad, in that case it’s NOT cool.)

  10. Maddie, I really enjoyed your post, and chuckled at some of the replies too! I hope that you enjoyed the night at Koko, We regularly have 'mature enthusiasts' (nice phrase Louis) at my gigs, indeed at my monthly night in Manchester, my Dad, Father-in law (who is 70), and the parents of some other regulars come down for a jig. Maybe these parent's evenings should be more of a regular thing..

    You may be interested in hearing a recording of the Koko DJ set from February. If so, check out



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