Wednesday, 9 July 2014
On Monday I went to the Watch Show which was held in the huge Masonic Lodge near Covent Garden. There wasn't anything there that really interested me - except my chat with the nice grandson of Daphne du Maurier who has started up an watch company. I met him at the same exhibition last year.
Things went expensive after I phoned the missus to tell her "The good news is I haven't bought a new watch. The bad news is none of them was expensive enough." And then I trotted along to Covent Garden.
I'm far too old and dumpy to be a "hipster", but somehow I keep thinking I ought to be one. Take note: it is not a good idea to have such thoughts in Covent Garden...because just around the corner is a Paul Smith shop.
I've taken to wearing open necked white long sleeve shirts in the summer and co mingling in my mind along with "hipster" was the idea of a new white shirt.
Paul Smith had a sale on. I am now the possessor of a lovely Italian made classic styled cotton white shirt.
I also bought a small leather wallet while I was there.
My old wallet of over twenty years has got into the habit of chucking my cards all over the place. Only last week a stranger knocked on my front to ask if the driving licence and AA membership card he had in hand was mine. That followed on from the loss of 3 credit and debit cards in Sainsbury's earlier in the year.
My wallet had lost its grip so it had to go.
I continued in my "hipster" fantasy, swinging my hugely understated "Paul Smith" carrier bags and found myself at Miller Harris, my favourite English perfumery. And they were having a sale.
This was an opportunity not to be missed. A couple of new perfumes and shower gel accompanied me out of the shop.
Which brings me to "hipsters" and the impact they're having on Walthamstow. There's quite a flurry of tweets generated by an article in today's Guardian about the gentrifying of Deptford. Apparently the local, now closed, Job Centre has been taken over as a up market pub called "The Job Centre".
In the usual Grundian manner there's much gnashing of teeth about how hipsterish irony is out of place in run down Deptford and how the gentrifying middle classes are driving the indigenous unemployed,underemployed, under educated inhabitants out of the area:pricing them out of both the home owning and rental market.
This stuck a chord with twitterarti of "awesomestow" ( used ironically to highlight its naffness).
It's true the influx of decamped "hipsters" from Stoke Newington, Bethnal Green and Hackney has brought in loads of money. Most streets are now littered with skips and scaffolding, as old unloved Victorian terraced houses are given the "Home and Property" make over.
I'm all for that. I love our Victorian house and I get really excited when houses in our neighbourhood are renovated - slate roof reinstated, sash windows replacing ghastly plastic double glazing. Multi occupation houses returned to family homes and abandoned front and rear gardens turned into Gardener's World show cases.
The thing is this: Walthamstow is losing quite a bit of its character ( I won't say charm). It risks turning into parts of Hackney - full of Farrow and Ball'd frontages, slatted blinds and discreet expensive German cars.
Until recently the most modern car in our street was a 10 year old Ford Escort: now it's up to the minute Range Rovers and Audis as far as the eye can see.
Am I expecting too much to hope we can have both the benefits of "Hipsteria" without its monotonous uber cool and retain the attractive diversity that makes Walthamstow interestingly tacky?