City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Read the introduction to this series

With a pregnancy, you have a series of scans at the start, and obviously the end gets a bit, well, involved. But in the middle, aside from the 20-week scan (done at EGA), there is a huge yawning gap of very little engagement with healthcare. It’s back to your own familiar surroundings here, and a process of gently altering one’s life in small but significant ways.

But a 21st century pregnancy lends several other opportunities to learn what your parents never did, and we take up one of them, enrolling on a 2-day ‘active birth’ workshop in North London.

The Active Birth Centre is in a managed workspace space on Bickerton Road, in what I suppose is Tufnell Park. It looked like some kind of converted Victorian light-industrial space – which of course means a comparatively heavy factory. So an extremely sturdy, muscular building looms overhead. As with Georgian terraces and the archetypal textile industry buildings – as seen in central Manchester or downtown Manhattan – you simply can’t shift these things. And why would you? They convert beautifully. This one offers up a large high-ceilinged room to our class, with light streaming through tall metal windows. It ends up a little like a school-like space, reinforced by the format of 2 days of learning.

It’s a particular school, though; private, essentially. And so an utterly homogenous white middle class crowd, comprising English and Australian couples. Of which we are, of course, entirely representative.

I’m not really a fan of North London. Actually, I’m only really a fan of Central London, come to think of it. I end up in North London seeing mates who unaccountably choose to live there, or doing things like this. However, one thing North London suburbs do tend to offer up are fabulous views of central London. You can enjoy great vistas of the city by taking an arc from Regent’s Park outwards through Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Alexandra Palace …

And at lunch, Celia and I take a stroll in the warm sun, stopping atop a grassy bank surrounding a reservoir, eating our sandwiches, gazing down at the hazy towers of the city of London miles to the south-east.


Other pieces in this series:
A birth, in 13 places

1. Scan; Private clinic, Harley Street, Central London
2. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, UCLH, Huntley Street, Central London
3. Active Birth Centre, Tufnell Park, North London
4. Antenatal classes; 1A Roseberry Avenue, Central London
5. Bloomsbury Birthing Centre, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, UCLH, Huntley Street, Central London
6. Delivery Room 1, Labour Ward, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, UCLH, Huntley Street, Central London
7. A&E, UCLH Main Building, Gower Street, Central London
8. Amenity Room 6, Nixon Suite, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital (part of UCH), Huntley Street, Central London
9. Café Deco, Store Street, Central London
10. Transitional Care Unit, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital (UCLH), Huntley Street, Central London
11. Home, Gower Mews, Central London
12. Bloomsbury, Central London
13. Registry Office, Camden Town Hall, Central London


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