A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
London has portrayed itself as “Hip” ever since it was hip. That was a while ago. It’s really not that hip anymore. It is huge. It is moneyed. It has become the playground of the fabulously rich. The present government has overseen the greatest expansion of ultra-wealthy individuals within the boundaries of London in its history. London has the highest concentration of millionaires in the world and this has largely happened in the last 5 years while the present right wing government over see the greatest cuts ever seen to welfare, education and health. The rich get richer. The poor get processed into dog food.
It may not be the swinging sixties. It may not have a ground swell behind filled with new fresh musicians, poets, philosophers, fashion designers or painters. It may not be hip but like every other wealthy western city it has hipsters.
We had a quality Hipster experience down Maltby Street Market. There were beards and piercings. There were young men tossing over unreconstructed amounts of red meat in a totally reconstructed manner. They were cool. They knew it. And the clientele knew it too. It was like we all just got a little bit cooler by buying a toasted sandwich from this posh sounding chap with immaculate grooming.
But the sandwich was good. The cheese guy had good cheese. The Bad Brownies were actually so good they were bad/good/bad. The Norwegian salmon smiling guy was very cool. I’m told that the smoked salmon was good too. The gin guy was good. The beer guy was good. The groovy bakery was good. Monty’s Deli was good.
Why is it that Hipster males put so much effort into their Hipster styled appearance yet when they reach high levels of Hipster individuality they all look the same? That checked shirt lumbar-sexual look. Don’t get me wrong I like many things about what the hipsters bring; recycled-cycles, craft beer, smug coffee snobbery and men making food. I also grow a beard every year or so. I don’t have a “fixie” but I do like a push bike. Somehow I feel its okay to tease these guys a little.
I certainly enjoyed their market and so did the entire family. We went there with old friends (and their beautiful children) that manage to be genuinely cool with no distinguishing Hipster features. So thats still possible.
Malty Street has been around for a while and its all part of the growing LASSCO empire. I recall visiting the London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company (LASSCO) in an old warehouse in London maybe 20 years ago just to check out their stuff. There were entire rooms and huge ancient marble bath tubs. It was fantastic. They were ahead of their time but there is only so much genuine stuff you can find, salvage and recycle. The business has diversified and they’ve made use of what they’ve got. In the case of Maltby Street what they have is a set of railway arches. The market is all in (and around) a small lane between an old building and a raised train line. Under the arches there are tiny semi-transportable businesses. Behind the guys serving coffee that has been dripping for 24 hours are thousands of items belonging to LASSCO; old disassembled staircases, cinema seats, that sort of thing. The LASSCO store itself had more clothes and other small items on display than I recalled. Not entirely recycled but pretty cool.
I was having a great time. I bought some microbrewery brewed beers, watched a bunch of small businesses do their best to get ahead. I know it’s another type of gentrification. It is not the same as building a giant courthouse in a slum to let everyone knows who is boss. None of the stall holders are numbered in the millionaires mentioned above. But having said that none of the punters are likely to be on welfare either.
I’m confused. Should I drink this organic Pale Ale or not?