Saturday, 27 July 2013

New cultures.. or old returnees?

New shops seem to be opening at a rapid rate in the area that I live. Shops, cafes… you name it... they're springing up.

I remember the days when if you told a person you lived in Hackney they'd make a joke about it being tough... or rough... an area where no right minded, intelligent or decent person would choose to live. A placed designated prime research material for social scientists and the like…a hotbed of ethnic communities some would say... useful for do-gooders, and not so do-gooders... but hey...either way… wouldn’t wanna live there.
Or so I’ve heard.
Yet I’ve never found it so.
But then... I am an ethnic... so to speak.

I know many people that (once their income increased) chose to leave. Fed up with the jibes, and preferring to boost their social stature... perhaps.
Many of us have heard of ‘White flight’ occurring across London, yet that is something which occurred in many areas across London many years ago.
Fearful of a reduction in home value... or just fearful... who knows.
I know that areas such as Tower Hamlets, Harlesden, and even Hackney, where large numbers of black or ethnic minorities live, are often classified as 'areas in need of regeneration'.. poor.. or just plain undesirable.

In many cases, yes.. these have been areas in need of regeneration, have appeared quite run down, and have been plagued with unemployment. Fortunately, in some areas, regeneration has taken place, and continues to take place.

Our ‘socially disadvantaged communities’... where national, political, power structures, or causes of inequality are rarely fully addressed, instead, it's often the cultures themselves, and the pathology existing within these communities that are deemed the root cause.
Which for some (in the past at least) could be potentially contagious
Are things different now?

Perhaps I am biased. Maybe if I had lived in a rundown area in Newcastle or Sheffield (picked at random)I would have found it difficult. Perhaps there would have been.. 'Black flight'..
Perhaps we all seek out those who are similar to us, and are uncomfortable, vulnerable and exposed in places where we feel like a minority.
I say perhaps as I've always been a minority.. and I've been fine.
However, I know, that we are all different
I enjoy living in Hackney...and have always seen its beauty... it has always been 'trendy' to me.

I’ve known my local 'shop man' for years... same with the 'laundry man'... and to be honest I hope they remain, and are not priced out... for if they are.. I will no longer know my local store owners... or feel a sense of community with them. I fear that our ‘relationships’ may be reduced to a financial exchange only… minimal humanity, where my only worth is my money (lots of it, or get lost) and not my smile, feedback on how my children are doing, how the store owners themselves are getting on, or our occasional witty conversation
Yet things are changing. Places such as Hackney are now considered desirable places to live, and house prices have rocketed.

What is this change in hearts and minds, and how has it come about?
Is it the knowledge that with investment, pretty much any place can be transformed? Or is it something else?
I took a stroll today to buy a little veg, and salad 'stuffs'. I navigated the tables and chairs strewn across the pavement (I’ll get back to that later) and picked up a few things. What I noticed pretty soon, is that the prices have gone up. My regular grocers, used to do a deal... two cucumbers for £1 or 59p each…same with the lettuce. Yes folks.. that’s a massive saving of ... ooohh... 18p?
Now?...well… they’re still 59p each...just - No deal!. I picked up one anyway, in the realisation that my old money is no longer as sort after as the new money not only on show, but actually available.
Sure enough, If you want ‘deals’ now... it would appear, one would have to travel to the Market Place. The ‘Market Place’... hmmm okay.. nuff said.

So... as I walked back, I wondered about the seeming obsession with eating and drinking outdoors. The visual obsession with the continental dining style. Surely this ‘eating and drinking outdoors’ can be done in back gardens, parks, or even beer gardens, designated spaces... which do not clutter our pavements and corners, as they currently do. I fear we are on the verge of a small table overload.

Will our pavements, be places where one can walk freely again?... or do I need to pull up a chair also?
On the continent, I'm informed that people tend to be fairly relaxed. Brits?... we are notoriously uptight..so what gives?
Perhaps, if I pull up a chair, I will become less uptight... perhaps... but I don’t think I’d get much work done.
I'm not entirely convinced by this change. Is it an internal shift, or purely an external expression? Is it a desire to create a new culture?... or simply a way of 'pissing out new territory lines?' Is it a passing trend? a phase?.. or here to stay?.

There is an upside to the changes taking place in my local area, one being that it's a great way to balance out what appeared to be, too many betting shops and pawn brokers per square mile... yes now... it's a far better mix... of shops anyway.
With regards to the diversity of peoples, classes, and cultures on the other hand... that's an entirely different matter. I see clear divisions emerging, so are we going forwards.. or back.
And… does it even matter anymore?...

We saw a helicopter today... I asked my bro to pull up so I could take a photo... how sad am I?
Well... it's not everyday I get the chance to see one up close and personal in my area
Just so you know... I'm not the only one to take photos... the car behind us did the exact same thing.
Hope whoever needed it's assistance is okay.

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