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"The 'common' in question is more steel than oak, a curling mass of sidings and railway sheds which, one day, will metamorphose into the centre of the blooming universe, to become the main London interchange between High Speed Two from The North and Crossrail.
"Harlesden has been quietly preparing for its moment in the sun. It has aspirations, for the first time since it was built in the 19th century, when the future was steam-powered. Brent Council appears to have invested in bollards and the odd patch of paving. Stonebridge estate, which once had a 'reputation', has gone, replaced by terraces and front gardens.
"People call Harlesden 'the new Acton', as it rubs shoulders with loftier suburbs, such as Queen's Park and Kensal Rise. It is only a matter of time, they say, before this dusty corner becomes The Next Big Place. For now, Harlesden is neatened up, but still a riotous mash-up of Portuguese caffs beside proper Irish pubs.
"When The North does arrive en masse, I can think of no finer welcome to The Smoke."
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