I used to live on the Hackney/Lower Clapton border a few years ago, before gentrification. Even back then, I used to think it was rough. Although I used to take a kind of sadistic pleasure in informing any out of town friends visiting, that we were driving down the North London murder mile while on the 253 bus back from Camden or Holloway on a night out.
Having said that, seeing a local tramp injecting skag into his foreskin on Lower Clapton Road one cold January morning while on my way to pick up my post from the post office at Clapton roundabout, was really something I didn’t need to see. I left Hackney about seven years ago. My landlord decided it would be perfectly acceptable to increase the rent for the bedsit I was living in by £200 a month (!) and settled in Hertfordshire. Recently though, I found myself back there one afternoon to find the place has changed. Not for the better.
See, back in the day, the problem was just ***** and wannabe gangsters hanging around the shops. As long as you avoided eye contact, you were generally okay. However in the intervening seven years since I left, something has slithered up Mare Street from Hoxton and Shoreditch like a particularly odious and malignant ooze. I refer of course to the curse of the 21st century equivalent of the yuppie, the hipster.
You know the sort of people. they are living in the city on an allowance from mater and pater out in Buckinghamshire. They work as (urgh!) “social media influencers” or some other non-job title who take over the city areas and force rental prices up, thus driving families who’ve lived there for generations out. The influx is causing the area to lose all of its personality in favour of nauseating “pop up shops”.
You know the type, the ones that serve you a cup of “designer” coffee for seven quid or overpriced cocktail bars and “nouveau cuisine” restaurants strictly for them and their meeja chums. Any sane person would see the fare on offer and the prices being charged and instantly think “f**k this for a lark”, presumably. Another favourite hipster hobby business is “vintage clothes”. They buy their stock from the local Oxfam, then mark it up by 500% to sell to gullible Tatler magazine wannabes. Remember the cereal cafe? Yeah, that.
It’s safe to say I don’t miss the Hackney I used to live in at all. Having seen what it’s turned into, I miss it even less.