News, People

The Last Word: Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen

I’m Debbie Allen. After a career in the charity sector I decided on a dramatic gear change and started Bright Colours which is an online shop selling colourful and exclusive handbags and accessories. I love dancing, trying out new foods, seeing exhibitions, plays and films, and South East London has it all enveloped in colours, creativity, vibrancy and warmth. 

How long have you lived in the area?
I’ve lived in Camberwell for about five years, and before that in Peckham for nine years.

What brought you here?
Love! I moved to Peckham to live with my architect partner. We had a dream of building our own house and completed that just over five years ago.

What has changed most during that time?
Massive changes from house prices rising, to many new independent cafes and restaurants. But it is also showing some determined resistance from becoming just like every high street in the UK and this is a good thing.

What do you most value about the area/street you live in?
Despite being very urban, my street is quiet and leafy. The traffic outside the house is mostly people walking or cycling.

What one thing would you change?
I would change the parking policy in the area.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?
The fresh fruit sold around here is sweet and ready to eat! I always take a Peckham fruit salad to big family occasions (papaya, pineapple, mango, and sometimes water melon for some colour).

Do you know your neighbours?
I know all my neighbours and beyond. When building a house you must discuss the plans with your neighbours and accommodate their concerns both on the design and while the builders are on site. But since then I’ve been totally involved in the wonderful street parties that we have held.

The most famous person you’ve seen or met?
I’m not very good at spotting famous people, but I know for sure that I saw Jo Brand in the supermarket. I think I saw BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen once.

Do you belong to any groups?
I’m not a good joining groups, but I keep up with the Peckham Vision group. I am part of the Cooking with Scissors group and Camberwell Business Network for my business Bright Colours.

Coffee or tea? Where?
I don’t drink either coffee or tea, but I do love a fizzy water and chocolate brownie occasionally. In House Café in Camberwell I get a feel good factor knowing it supports a social enterprise alongside my guilt eating a delicious chocolate brownie!

What is your favourite shop?
SMBS Foods on Lordship Lane. Whenever I have an odd ingredient in a new recipe, they will be my first port of call. If they don’t have it….!

What was the last thing you bought there?
Preserved Lemons for a Lebanese dish.

The book I’m reading at the moment…
I’ve just finished a Philip Kerr book with detective Bernie Gunther, set in Hitler’s Germany. The character has a wonderfully anarchic approach to his work and particularly how he deals with life under the Nazis.

This feature also appears in this month’s SE Magazines.