Hipsters: this city is full of them.
With ill-fitting garments they crowd tunnels of the Underground hurrying to their DIY indie gigs, clutching moleskin notebooks filled with ideas for three-part political dramas in one hand and decaffeinated chilled soy beverages in the other. It’s really hard for me to not dislike them.
Although they come in all shapes and sizes, they are predominantly made up of folks in their mid-late twenties. Young, fun and fashionable: they represent everything that I am not – for that reason I spurn their presence and recoil in shame when they tell me that they love my blog.
As much as I’d like to continue harbouring a lovely warm, bitter resentment against this enthusiastic demographic, the truth is that I have them to thank for much of the fantastic, vibrant food that is so readily available in London today. Thanks to the thousands of young people flocking to the city to work, more and more trendy establishments have been opening up, offering some truly alternative dinner options.
I follow a trail of excitable aforementioned young people into the elaborately named Last Days of Shoreditch on a balmy evening night.
I’m told by a bespectacled twenty-something that we’re lucky not to have to queue, there is a reason for this: I arrived unfashionably early, having heard about the high demand for this pop-up food market/boozer/karaoke bar. As trendy as my fellow early birds appear to be, it seems that there’s really nothing cool about spending up to an hour in a queue.
For some Last Days of Shoreditch will represent everything that is currently wrong with London. It is quite simply, gentrification incarnate: a scrub of land reinvented as an ‘urban beach’, crammed with cheap wooden furniture, pop-up food stalls, craft ale and young people with too much money.
As I gently part the tide of millennials with my uncouth, old-man shtick, I try and summon up the necessary energy to take a disliking to everything around me. I’m slowly working myself into a rage, using a classic internal monologue to really get my spite turning when I’m accosted by a casually dressed waitress who blindsides me with a complimentary cocktail.
She tells me that it’s a new take on a Tom Collins, using Sicilian lemons and Sipsmith gin, it’s delicious. It’s so delicious, in fact, that I lose my train of thought and start chatting to a group next to me. They’ve just taken part in a pop-up escape room (I don’t even wince at the unnecessary prefix) and are now happily chomping down on gourmet burgers from Nanny Bills. They offer me a ‘Pea & Feta’ Croquette and I surprise myself by taking it.
After taking my leave from this bubbly group, I’m sidetracked on the way to the bar by some raucous screams and cheers. There a number of private karaoke rooms for hire and whilst it’s clear that someone has skimped on sound-proofing, it sounds like all involved are having a good time. I stop for a second and take a look around me – it seems like everyone here is having fun, singing, drinking, generally having a good time. Perhaps I’d judged these hipsters all wrong.