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!