I think Brockley 10 years ago would have been a markedly different place: one bereft of the beards, the flat whites and the numerous restaurants offering an approximation of hipster haute cuisine. Now you can’t get on the overground without having your skin exfoliated by the bristles of the creatively bearded, find a “normal” coffee for love nor money, or expect to go out to eat locally for less than £8 for verbosely described, yet “simply made food” that is served on something woefully impractical – think poached egg sat atop a wooden board or fat drenched streaky bacon delivered by frying pan.
In the shadow of Goldsmiths and a mere hop skip and jump away on the overground from Shoreditch, Brockley has become the place to move for students fresh out of university, or “start-up families” who’re a bit too cool and ethical to live elsewhere. Consequently, the place does have a certain urban bohemian smugness to it. Though try as they might to make their little slice of left leaning paradise feel like a secret cove, really the summers here feel like an advert for cider: opportune, devoid of substance and bile raising.
Brockley is yet to be entirely corporatised – though I give it less than 5 years before you see a chain of chains descend. Property developers are already squeezing as many developments as they can, all of them upmarket flats for monied commuters. Soon the students won’t be able to afford it but the start-up families and council tenants will remain. Much like the rest of London the wealthy will live alongside the poor, sharing physical space but nothing besides: The hip joints will remain hip but increase their prices and perhaps upgrade to plates; the dungarees and tattoos will give way to… well, whatever the rich pepper themselves with, in 5 years it will probably be dungarees and tattoos! Cider adverts will be filmed and bought here, presumably directed by someone who owns a flat in Brockley but doesn’t live in it.
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Is Brockley the worst place to live in England in 2021?