Hey, it’s me. Little pale white baby, who actually turned out to be black, born in Homerton Hospital in Hackney but raised in Leyton. Do you remember me? I know I’ve been gone for a while, but I had no choice. Actually I did, but I thought getting away from you for a while would show me what life has to offer. Its pants. No other city compares to you, but your smug ass already knows that, don’t you? The first two years I was away a lot, but luckily this year, I’ve been back pretty much every weekend to bask in all your glory. Things are different now, very different.
I remember loving taking the bus instead of taking the train because I loved the long journeys and I loved seeing as much of you as possible. In the winter, you’re a downright bitch so I’m guessing you felt bad because everyone was insulting you at any given moment. But in the summer, we absolutely love you! Everyone comes out with a smile! Can you imagine that? Londoners actually smiling…at EACH OTHER!
Of course, going up West was such a treat for me as a kid but growing up in East was actually a lot of fun. Going to the Hackney Empire for those random pantomimes you had, being forced to tag along with my mum when she went to Dalston Market and getting drunk in Hollow Ponds during the summer break with my mates. All such great times and great places. I could have done those things anywhere in the world, but you made it just that little bit better. As I grew up, you and I became closer and we had a mutual understanding: things may not be the safest here, but you knew who I was so you kept me safe. I never had any issues.
But something strange began to happen a good few years back; you began to change and since then, I have watched you grow into something I’m beginning to not like. East London is my home, but it’s starting to seem like I’m the stranger.
I first noticed it with Hackney, the people started to look and sound a lot different. The roads got cleaner, fancier buildings were popping up everywhere and more expensive food places were sprouting out too. Although I spent a lot of time in Hackney, because I didn’t live there, I was just the observer to all this change – until it started happening to my own area.
Like I said, I would come home every weekend and every weekend more and more different types of people would get off at Leyton Station and walk down the high road just like me. I won’t lie, I was surprised. I know what the demographic in my area looks like, and these people were 100% strangers. Then a cafe which sells avocado sandwiches for £5.80 popped up at the end of my road and I knew all hell was breaking loose. High rise apartments were being built and dudes with chinos and flip flops were walking their dogs on the high road.
People who look like me and have lived in these changing areas for years are being forced out because they can’t afford it anymore, and being replaced by middle class graduates from Durham and Exeter. But don’t get me wrong, I want new people to experience your awesomeness too, but not if that means all the friends you’ve had before have to suffer.
I don’t actually know how far this change will go, but it’s not looking good. And as someone who defends your honour to outsiders pretty much every week; I wish you’d attempt to protect us guys who have been here even when they were adamant that your streets were not safe to walk down.
Just think about us for once, will you?
The pale little white baby who actually turned out to be black.
An Unknown Sauce
Not So Unknown // @