Last night I broke my New Year’s Resolution of never drinking in Dalston ever again after one too many cringe car-crash evenings trawling up and down Hipster strip, utterly broke and delirious, swimming through an undergrowth of beards to get to a bustop.
I didn’t really even imagine that Dalston existed in the daytime. But yesterday evening I walked down the market broadway that’s directly opposite Dalston Kingsland station as the sun was setting and the street cleaners were blitzing away the day’s food debris, and realised like an idiot that there’s a whole drone of the community that gentrify-defy on a daily basis. Suddenly my thinking that it was an area void of personality, so infested with smart arse trendiness that you could be anywhere, evaporated. I had just been walking through it, blindly, to the same awful places.
Tucked in the middle of the market, surrounded with wonderful food pongs that seep in through the open doors, is Ridley Road Market Bar. This place is everything you love about London and don’t want to lose. Good music that isn’t monopolised by “cool” Djs and promoters, affordable drinks that are delicious and fresh, Spice Girl-named pizzas for a fiver that are cooked outdoors by the Slice Girls (my absolute career goal), Tropicana décor, abstinence from having a guest list or taking bookings for under 15 people, and a refusal to squeeze money out of their staff by paying a London Living Wage. Basically, this is a bar with GOOD MORALS and LOGICAL PRIORITIES in this EXPENSIVE and yet deeply CREATIVE CITY (it shouldn’t be so amazing but it is), and that is why they are so popular. By 9 o’clock last night the place was heaving and a queue of people had formed around the corner to come in. Maybe there would be less drunken arguing and cool-stand-offs in London if punters were less annoyed by high prices and feeling discriminated against whilst out drinking… just a thought.
Feverishly eating that delicious pizza whilst talking over the election results this week seemed to affirm an opinion about our political system that GOF have long had, which I’m about to explain to you.
Wouldn’t it be great if politics looked like pizza? Pizza, in its essence, is very democratic: it leaves no food group out. It knows the value of mixed flavour, colour and texture. It’s for sharing. A food that one person doesn’t like can be included on a bit of the pizza and not another, so everyone is happy. One world, one pizza. But the political map of Britain of late is looking less like a pizza and more like an itemized supermarket. Up top Scotland have gone Sturgeon-crazy, waving goodbye to 40 Labour MPs. London is red as ever with Boris Johnson, bizarrely, as the blueberry on top of it. UKIP and Green voters showed their support in drones, but thanks to our interesting voting system their efforts only led to 1 MP each. Lib Dem have practically been removed from the menu altogether. And the rest of country has all voted Conservative. That’s like the most disgusting pizza ever, with all the cheese at the top, a circle of tomato in the mid-bottom and dotted about the north and the bulk of it a bitter violet-coloured paste.
Where is the unity in that? How many people are going to be feeling pissed off and under-represented in the mighty House Of Commons, looking at how carved up the island is in its mindset? Surely making an actual move towards localising politics would give people more of a voice based on community needs, but localising doesn’t mean dividing. Rather than imposing non-specific measures on everyone, showing a total disregard for understanding that everyone is different, why can’t the focus shift onto communities who together make up a United Kingdom? Surely pitting different social groups against each other in order to secure votes, which is what I feel happened in both main party’s campaigning in the run up, was only going to lead to division and confusion, when we could have been celebrating the strengths that our diversity affords us. When will someone squash that ridiculous blueberry?
It’s not very eloquent, but that’s how we feel. There’s a reason people stuff their face with comfort food in dark times. I’ll be consoling myself inside a wonderfully symbolic pizza box for months to come, and I suggest you do the same.