The Great Unwashed

It’s great round here, you’re near Portobello market, Notting Hill, not that far away from the centre of town. It’s a bit different from where I used to live, but it’s so real, you know?  You get to see real people, real characters, we didn’t have that in the little town that I grew up in. Friends asked me if I was sure I wanted to move in here, they said it might be a bit dangerous, a lot of them dodgy types.  That’s what I want though, a bit of adventure, living somewhere really nice like Kensington, that’s no fun.  I could afford it of course but I want to live with and understand real people.  Besides I’m not the only one that’s been moving in here.

I don’t get all these people with loads of money that are moving in here.  It’s like they think it’s ‘cool’ to live with people that haven’t had it as easy as they have.  They don’t get that they’re never going to be one of us, besides they can walk away anytime they want most of us can’t afford that.  Funny thing is, it isn’t even that dangerous around here, but I suppose when you’ve grown up somewhere like they have it’s different.  I wouldn’t be bothered but they end up bringing all their own people around here, it’s like they dilute the community.  We’ve lived here for years and now they come along and suddenly people take notice of us.

One of my friends is thinking about opening a juice bar on the top floor of the block.  I don’t know why someone hasn’t thought about it before.  There’s so much you could do with this place, make it look a little bit better, feel a little bit better.  I think the residents would appreciate it too, bring a bit of extra bit of money to the area.  It’s one of the things that I miss, not being able to get good food and drinks close by.  I’m sure everyone else that lives here would appreciate it.  There seems to be a few apartments for sale in the block, I’ve been trying to persuade my friends to buy them, I really do think they’d love it here, get to know the real London, you know?

They’re supposed to be opening a ‘juice bar’ on the top floor.  I don’t even know what a ‘juice bar’ is.  If I want juice I go to the shop and buy one.  They all go on and on about wanting to live with us but then they come in and start opening things like ‘juice bars’ and vegetarian restaurants like they’re doing us a favour.  Not a single person I know that has lived here for a long time wants these things, anyway what good is it going to do us?  I’m not going to get anything out of it, they’re the only ones that are going to profit. They don’t get it though, it’s all about them, for all their talk the only people they care about are themselves and their friends from the suburbs and how ‘cool’ and ‘edgy’ they are.

I feel really connected to the people here, you know?  It’s like I understand them.  I can see what it’s like to live in poverty, or with drug addiction.  A lot of the kids only have their mothers too, I can’t imagine what that must be like.  It’d be great if more people were like me and tried to understand how other people live.  I doubt I’ll stay here forever or anything, well maybe, but we’ll have to see what property prices are like.  I’ll always remember it though, you know?  Living among the needy, a great learning experience in life, something to tell the kids when I’ve progressed up the career ladder and finally have some.

They’ll never have any connection with us, they don’t get that though.  It’s like they think we’re all destitute and poor.  Some people struggle to get by but I wouldn’t say anyone is poor.  Understanding?  What understanding is there to be had?  If they understood us they wouldn’t be trying to change everything.  It isn’t theirs to change but they’ve got money, and that’s all that matters these days ain’t it?  No one asks us if we want all these people moving in and opening juice bars and pretending that they have some kind of connection with us.  They don’t and they never will, at some point it won’t be trendy to live here anymore and they’ll all go away to try and ‘understand’ some other place.

There are many parts of London that have been gentrified in recent years, they’ve lost the character that they used to have.  People with money move in because they think it’s a ‘cool’ place to live and they’re are seeing the ‘real’ London.  As more and more move in it completely changes a place and affects the communities that live there.  Bars and restaurants start opening that have no appeal to the people that have always lived there. The building in the picture is one of those places, it’s quite a famous building because of the brutalist architecture.  I used to go to college just behind it when I was a kid.


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