This Is Fucking Vandalism, London’s History And Culture Are Being Destroyed In The Name Of Greed

Johnny Void here gives his characteristic personal point of view attacking the destructive gentrification which is tearing the heart out of London’s genuinely bohemian centres. These include the Black Cap pub, a historic gay pub; part of Camden market; the centre of Soho’s red light district; Tin Pan Alley and St. Martin’s art school, which is relocating away from the area to King’s Cross.

I’ve nothing against the closure of Soho’s strip joints and burlesque bars myself. They are seedy, and when the strip joints in Park Street in Bristol closed down and moved away in the 1980s, in my opinion the quality of the area improved and became a much more inviting place. But Soho’s red light district is a distinctive and historic part of London, as Mr Void says. It attracts the tourists, in the same way that Amsterdam’s red light district does, and has become the quintessential symbol of the seedy glamour of the metropolis. You think of the Harry Enfield sketch where the Scousers go down to That London. That sketch included a section where one of the comedy Scousers goes into a Soho strip joint. This part of the sketch shows various movie stars and celebs, like Michael Caine in their swinging sixties glory surrounded by crowds of paps, trooping about the district.

Homosexuality is still immensely controversial, even nearly fifty years after its legalisation in Britain. Yet the Black Cap pub, like a lot of gay venues, was also a real part of Britain’s submerged heritage, ignored or suppressed by the official, dominant culture. In its way, it’s another historic venue, around which a living community grew up and socialised. A community which is being wrecked by the development.

The closure and gutting of Tin Pan Alley has become something of a national scandal. One of Britain’s leading rock dinosaurs from the 1970s appeared a year or so on the Beeb’s One Show to raise awareness of it and protest against it.

As for St. Martin’s School of Art, just so many of Britain’s leading 20th century artists seem to have gone there that sometimes you wonder if there’s anyone in the art or film industries, who didn’t.

And Mr Void’s mention of the local hardware store being forced to close is a reminder that it isn’t just the big, glamorous parts of London’s countercultural history that’s being hit, but also the community stores and businesses that actually sell ordinary people items they want and need.

This process isn’t just going on in London. It’s all over the south of England to a greater or lesser extent. It’s going on in the Lower High Street in Cheltenham, where ordinary businesses are being closed down to be replaced by luxury developing, including non-affordable flats. The poor, the marginal and the oppositional, or just the severely normal, are being forced out of their homes and businesses in order to satisfy the rapacity of the rich.

the void

black-capsAround 150 people joined a protest outside The Black Cap public house in Camden yesterday after it closed suddenly and without warning last week.  The long running LGBT venue opened in the 1960s, surviving throughout the days when gay people faced prosecution.  Now it is falling victim to rampant gentrification that respects neither culture or history and seeks only to make as much money as possible for greedy property developers.

Speaking at the protest drag artist Titti La Camp, a former performer at the pub, said 10 gay venues had closed in central London since the current Tory government weren’t elected.  In an all too familiar story, those trying to save The Black Cap believe it is likely to be converted into yet more luxury flats that nobody local can afford.

camden-marketsA few hundred yards away a large part of Camden Market is currently a building site, awaiting being converted…

View original post 795 more words

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: