It’s less than two years since what have come to be known as the ‘London riots’, but already they’ve been mythologised. In Hackney, the riots are spoken about in strangely fond terms, as a time when residents pulled together to clear up the broken glass, burnt-out cars and brick dust of the night before. The riots were a thrill, and they gave way to a Blitz-spirit nostalgia which is increasingly being used to remind us all to keep calm and carry on.
The commercialisation of such sentiment has followed close behind.
The London Fields Brewery, purveyor of self-conscious craft beers like ‘Hackney Hopster’ and ‘Black Path Porter’, has started producing a beer called ‘Love not War’:
First brewed barricaded in the brewery during the London riots, this brooding red ale is an ode to all things peace and love. A true union of malt and hops, with silky texture and soft caramel flavours cuddling up to a rich pear and summer fruit character.
If only the rioters could get along like malt and hops. If only the residents of Hackney could form a union as strong as that between caramel and summer fruits.
Meanwhile, £1.5 million earmarked for rebuilding riot-struck businesses is being used to establish a ‘fashion hub’ in the railway arches along Morning Lane. Car mechanics and machinists are being evicted. Burberry, Pringle and Aquascutum already have discount outlets in the area. During the riots the Carhartt outlet store up the road in Clapton was looted and has since closed down.
A few months ago developers announced plans for the Chatham Works, another fashion outlet which aims to be ‘East London’s answer to Carnaby Street’. ‘It appears last year’s riots in Hackney may have been a blessing to Hackney Council,’ one commentator wrote, ‘high-end fashion houses and commercial real estate investors looking for new developments in East London.’
A website was recently launched announcing the establishment of the ‘Hackney Haute Quarter’:
Taking strides in 2013, the Hackney Haute Quarter development promises a new world of luxury shopping on the mean streets of Hackney. Home to the London College of Fashion, a throbbing art scene and some of the most thrilling drama of the recent riots, this sexy ghetto is fast becoming the beating heart of London style… This is an opportunity for the most daring brands in fashion to build on the area’s anti-social capital.
It’s a joke (I think).