Is a chunk of East London which comprises almost everything in the E5 postal area, that is, north to south, from the bottom end of Stamford Hill down to the junction of Lower Clapton Road and Mare Street, and east to west, everything from Hackney Downs park, to the Lea Bridge. It is primarily a residential area, and it's best known for being, in popular culture, rough as a badger's tadger. Also in reality, it's thus rough. I should know, I live there.
At the top of the area, there's a slight bleed-over from Stamford Hill of London's Orthodox Jewish community, and there's a few bits up at the junction of Upper Clapton Road and Clapton Common, a kosher butcher's, a bagel store, and a synagogue. As we trundle down the main road, we see the buildings slowly move from Victorian terraced houses to godawful 1960s-vintage council flats. As someone who takes the London Borough of Hackney to Court on a daily basis over housing disrepair, I can authoritatively say they are most likely in a very sorry state. They are also ill-lit and more often than not have clods of asbonauts hanging around on them.
We trundle down and pass a row of shops. On your left is the petrol station that got attacked by a bird in the "Decline" episode of Brass Eye. This particular knot contains quite a lot of Turkish businesses.
As we pass the railway station, we encounter a cluster of flowers where a lad called Cem Duzgun was drive-by shot in 2009. Clapton is home to the so-called "Murder Mile" that runs from just about here to about a mile down on Lower Clapton Road by the boarded up Lord Cecil pub. This is so called because for a while, local lads had a habit of being stabbed, shot, or both, in this area. Though not on the main road so much as the leafy terraced side-streets that branch off from it. Despite the place's alarming reputation, as long as you avoid those side streets after dark, and aren't involved in drugs or gangs, you should be quite safe along here. However anything north of Glenarm Road and east of Lower Clapton Road is really best avoided, as the place isn't so much affluent as, well, effluent.
On the Lea Bridge roundabout, at the corner of Upper Clapton Road and Kenninghall Road, is the BSix Sixth Form College. This in the 1960s was called Brooke Road Secondary Modern and is where Alan Sugar went to school. In fact, he lived on the Northwold estate just a bit further up. BSix is considered quite a good school, because Lord Sugar has since thrown a clod of his money at it and suchlike.
And then we're at the bottom of the area and into, erm, Hackney. I don't know if that's an advance or not. However, Hackney is slowly being filled up with hipsters, who in turn have spread from Shoreditch, and the bit to the west of Clapton, Stoke Newington, is already full of hipsters and as such Clapton is gradually being overrun with them. This has had the effect of boosting rents and property prices so now instead of living in a slum, Claptonians are living in an overpriced slum because the area's sold as "vibrant" and "forward looking." This is kinda what happened to Hoxton and Shoreditch in the 1990s. Indeed, hipster-oriented businesses such as an independent book store, Pages (who has a book club which I joined and left after one meeting because they had a habit of trying to out-pseudo-intellectual each other), and an organic food store, and the Clapton Hart, which is slightly my local pub, which I have started frequenting because they do real ale and a tasty, if expensive, roast dinner. (The other local pubs in Clapton are the sort of place where Friday night is Fight Night if you get my drift.) I know, full of hipsters, but I won't get stabbed, and I can always work on lowering the tone suitably.
To the east of the area is best avoided. It's all Victorian terraced houses in a state of crumblingness and ill-lit side streets. Go here after dark and you have a good chance of being stabbed, bumraped, or burgled senseless. Put it like this. During the 2011 London riots, I'd just come back from Wacken Open Air and had nothing in the fridge. I went out to find something as I had three-quarters of the ingredients for this about. On the way back, a line of robocops were busy dragging some ne'er-do-wells out of an independent electrical goods store, and the road was blocked, so I went round the side through this bit of the district. Three girls were wheeling a ginormous plasma screen telly away from that store, and a bloke was showing off his new iPad. In the plate glass window was a plasma telly and iPad-shaped hole. Naturally, I ratted them out to the po po as soon as I was home.
(My boss, incidentally, was disgusted at me for doing this, as I could at least have given them the firm's business card first!)
Anyhow. That's about it really. Can I have my Quest for Local Knowledge points now? Kthx.