Middleagedmum.com: Peak everything

I realise that this post could possibly be unique to the area of London that I live in. Not to sound superior in any way – when you have read this post you’ll realise what I mean – but new trends (and I am fully aware trends are my job!) that incubate in reclaimed wood /exposed light bulb lit / run down factories in East London have an uncanny knack of becoming a ‘thing’ elsewhere, over time.

I have lived in Hackney for 30 years and like to wear this as a badge of honour, when I’m told by Hackney dwelling young people who live flats with dish washers and washing machines – that ‘it used to be really rough in Dalston 10 years ago’.
Rough in Dalston, 10 years ago – don’t make me laugh –  9 years ago The Guardian called it the coolest place in Britain. Thanks by the way Paul Flynn – what were you thinking – my born and bred children and their friends can no longer afford to live here.

When we moved to Hackney it was a real place where regular people lived, teachers, cleaners, social workers and artists rubbing along together, with little or no money and no fancy cafes or shops. There were no-go areas, underground clubs, dodgy pubs, squats and all night corner shops selling anything you wanted (actually those still exist), as well as run down Victorian houses being lovingly restored by people like us – who moved here to raise our families, send our kids to local schools (no matter what their SATS results) and get involved with our local community.

When we arrived I felt like I had found my people, like-minded liberals who cared about society more than money, creatives who could afford to try out new things as it was relatively cheap and eccentrics who didn’t live their lives by sets of rules – after all Stoke Newington is famous for its individuality and dissident intellectuals, such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Daniel Defoe.

Over the years I have continued to love living here and watched as the dodgy boozers became gastro pubs, the underground clubs became cocktail bars and the lovely Victorian houses get loft extensions and basements to accommodate the grown up children who can’t afford to move out.

The change seemed gradual at first and I was never one to moan about it – as change is good and the young people who were opening new businesses in disused buildings reminded me of us back in the day.

But over the last few months I have slowly started to feel pushed out and like I don’t fit in anymore. Maybe it’s just age and I would feel like that wherever I lived – or maybe we have reached ‘peak’ everything in Hackney and I just don’t have the energy. And here are some reasons why…….

Always being the oldest person – everywhere I go. Be it a restaurant, the cinema or heaven forbid a bar – I may be wearing the same MA1 jacket, Levis and Grenson boots as everyone else, but you can guarantee I will be at least 20 if not 30 years older, meaning people offer me seats, stare as if I shouldn’t be there, or even worse talk really loudly when asking me a question, as if I’m 90!

Cash only / No cash – my local corner shop won’t take cards, only cash. The hipster cafe right next door doesn’t accept cash, only cards – even for a £3 coffee (also £3 for a coffee!) Consequently I don’t know where I am cash wise – on a daily basis.

Coffee choices – cortado, latte, flat white, cappuccino, Americano, almond, oat or soy milk – God forbid you should want a simple coffee with milk from an actual cow!

Being Vegan – how do you know if someone is vegan? They will tell you within five minutes of meeting them! A few weeks ago we went to a cafe and ordered breakfast – eggs, bacon and a latte. “Do you know this a vegan cafe?” they said. So what exactly had we ordered? It wasn’t eggs, bacon and a latte, that’s for damn sure.
I have nothing against vegans, but they need to invent invent their own food.  We left in search of real eggs.

Queueing for Brunch – It is impossible to casually rock up to eat overpriced  ricotta pancakes, avocado on sour dough and a Bloody Mary with more garnish than the most garnished thing from Planet Garnish. No you must wait in line for at least half an hour – like you are in Brooklyn  – and not in a good way – and then pay £30 for a fry up!

Hipster food: delicious as it may be, it also has to be overpriced to be worthy of its location in a railway arch in deepest Mare St. I’m looking at you E5 Bake house!  £5.00 for a cup of takeaway lentil soup – and no bread. F….g liberty!

Other things on my hit list include – over anxious girls discussing every aspect of their self indulgent fitness regimes in cafes, people reserving tables in our local pub – to drink not eat, newcomers who buy perfectly nice houses and don’t move in until builders have moved every last trace of the previous owners, said people piously sending their kids to the local schools but finding every opportunity to criticise and complain until eventually they pull them out and send them to the private schools they wanted them to go to in the first place………….

Oh  the list is endless – perhaps it’s time to move to the seaside!


  • Frances Tobin says:

    The same fate has happened to Brixton – unrecognisable from 30 years ago.

  • Amanda says:

    On the subject of overpriced food, when our latest local artisan bakery opened, selling artful loaves and complex coffee, I picked up half a loaf of bread to buy – bread is now bought by weight in these places. The hipster server earnestly thanked me and said, without any sense of shame, ‘That’ll be £8.00 please. For HALF A LOAF OF BREAD. Ax

  • Joy says:

    Hmmm….I think I may have the opposite problem of often being the youngest person in the high street/pub/theatre etc and I’m aged 60! I’ve nothing against older folk than me (many of my best friends are 70+) but our community, in a rural town in the Midlands, has a noticeably older population.

    I was at a Birmingham Literary Festival event at the w/e and took my niece (age 23). She was the youngest by 30 years at least! And don’t get me started on theatre audiences.

    Maybe our villages/towns/city areas are becoming more polarised by age? I think this is a shame. I love mixing with all ages.

    BTW “artisan” anything has found its way here and is just as expensive!

  • Ellen says:

    I believe your description perfectly fit my neighborhood in Brooklyn!
    All the creative people who made it interesting can not afford it. I loved the mix of different businesses that had been there forever along with new ones. But that became more corporate chains coming in as mom and pop shops could not afford the rent.
    Young couples coming in with money to buy a brownstone and turn the building that was flats into a one family home.
    I felt like the only one not pushing a stroller, as the moms took over cafes everywhere. I also lose patience with loud conversations by young girls that seem to be everywhere! Are all young people deaf from headphones or just think that we are totally interested in the minute details of their lives?
    Anyway – moved to an area of the Bronx where it is dodging zimmer frames instead of strollers! I feel a bit younger now. But coffee is still too pricey :)

  • Osnat says:

    So where does one move to in London which is still authentic Jane??? I still prefer Stoke Newington to any other part of London but accept it’s not what it used to be when we lived there. It has maintained its unique character despite the hipsterism it’s a bit like trendy Queen West or Lesliville here my favourite parts of Toronto but now mostly unaffordable.
    . Xxx

  • ElaineChicago says:

    Yes, Jane, Yes, Ellen……this Whatever-you-call-it is prevalent everywhere! We are Urban Fringe of Chicago and it’s many pockets of what you describe and don’t have to deal with the pompous persons who think they are better than others.

  • Carole robb says:

    Please don’t Move X

  • Jude says:

    Don’t move Jane, I get what you’re saying, but seriously, PLEASE DONT GO!!

  • Elspeth says:

    Exactly the same in Melbourne! What was once a city of gutsy, hard working people is now overpriced in everything & full of pretentious, self absorbed clones driving huge 4WD & always multi tasking (ie talking on their phones & drinking coffee).
    Quite frankly it’s tiresome and disingenuous.

  • Jane says:

    so tiresome Elspeth!

  • Jane says:

    Not going anywhere Judi and Carole – I promise x

  • Jane says:

    Even if you move further out it seems everything is gentrified – I dont know Osnat, for now Im happy to stay and seek out the less pretentious parts of the area – there are still some x

  • Jane says:

    Yes Ellen, I was in Brooklyn in the summer and I felt the same vibe there. Maybe I need to seek out an area like the Bronx. Not sure where that would be tho! J x

  • Jane says:

    Haha Joy I cant imagine being the youngest anywhere – yes its a shame as I like you, love to mix with all ages. J x

  • Jane says:

    Daylight Robbery Amanda!!

  • Jane says:

    Such a shame – I couldn’t believe Brixton the last time I visited. x

  • Katya says:

    After 25 years in Dalston we’re becoming disenchanted, the monied city boys and their families have such a sense of entitlement. Our lovely garden is no longer private but overlooked by roof terraces, and we’re not talking about flats …these are homes with substantial gardens already.
    Can’t take the brashness and loudness anymore , any advice on how to stay sane ?

  • MaureenC says:

    I think the problem is entitled people of any age! I spend a lot of time in London usually staying with my son in Wood Green which is pretty ungentrified still but the signs are there. My son and his mates reckon that the gap between being able to find drinkable coffee and not being able to afford the rent is about three years. I live close to Exeter which is slowly becoming more mixed in age which is great. A combination of young people coming back to settle in Devon because they can’t afford living in London and young immigrant families has had a brilliant impact. Though the University is doing its best to erase those gains by building too many residences for very rich students in the city centre. The coastal towns on the other hand are totally dominated by the intolerant elderly mostly of the Daily Mail reading breed though we are getting quite a few Guardian readers moving down from Hackney…….

  • Sheelah says:

    Feeling your pain, Jane.
    Same here in deepest darkest South London, never exactly cutting edge here and always more monied, but have watched enormous changes, in Chelsea, Clapham and Battersea. Used to be more old money, ‘ fuss and nonsense’ send the bloody kids to school in pilled tights and nits ! but funny, friendly and nice and lots of old people. Now all Designer or gym clothed young Mums with massive prams and cars, carrying a tiny aphid in back. Our new neighbours say it all, have moved out since they bought, have ripped out every single victorian feature, fire places, chimney breasts, even the old front door ( nothing wrong with it ) along with beautiful victorian tiles, unfortunately none of it listed. Moved walls, created every bedroom with an ensuite, cos’ you need that when you have just one 2 year old …. worst of all, not one, but two massive air con. fans at bottom of garden, (didn’t their posh schools teach them about the environment ?) can’t wait to hear those fired up on a hot day in garden, in a terraced house…… ) months of ASBO, builders and more to go. Rant over, but seems from above posts, it’s the same all over. It’s not like we are the type not to accept new things and we aren’t even that old, what’s happening ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *