Back to Notting Hill to meet somebody for lunch. This is no longer the place I used to live in. Bits of Portobello Road look like they've been lifted straight off the set for Friends and never been updated.
Where I used to do my laundry is now an upmarket estate agent. They're so posh that the whole "shop front" level is just where the receptionist sits. All the horrible estate agent-type people are buried away underground so as not to frighten the bankers' wives who are out shopping like there's no recession.
There are tiny signs of economic mortality. One particularly overpriced furniture shop used to have three stores in the same road, but even they have clearly had to tighten their Prada belts. They now have just the one overpriced location. One of their old shops has become a charity store – but one that could only be found in Notting Hill. If this charity store were in Cirencester it would be considered the chicest address in the Cotswolds. Indeed, it's very difficult to tell it's a charity shop. I actually think, by "charity", they just mean the process of passing down £10,000 dresses to people who can only afford £5,000 ones. Trickle down economics. God, times are hard.
The proper creatives who made this area what it was have long gone. Unless they've become suits, they simply can't afford to live here any more. It's always the way: artists find a run-down boho chic area and start to populate it because the rent is cheap. Then people start to "discover" the place and the artists are slowly priced out until, eventually, the area becomes where US merchant bankers request that their company flat be located and it's all over bar the braying. Chelsea was the same in its time, though it's now almost become Notting Hill's "vieux pauvre" cousin.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, follow the artists. You're way too late on Shoreditch, so how about further afield? If you're really brave, then the next hot spot is Detroit. This former "Motor City" and beyond which was destroyed by Reaganomics is an urban wasteland brought to infamy through the lyrics of cartoon "gangsta" inhabitants like Eminem. And yet, artists from across America are flooding to a city where you can buy a dilapidated townhouse for $10,000 – a tip given to me by a beautiful Russian merchant banker with whom I shared a cab from SoHo to JFK. Trust me, if the merchant bankers have got their antennae up, it's time to take notice. I predict an emerging "Detroit Scene" in the next five years and soon Anish Kapoor and the rest of us will all be clamouring to go there.
Where else could I predict will become "hot" soon? Well, my money is on Iraq. Soon, there will be penthouses with "sweeping views of the Tigris" on offer to the budding banker. First, of course, we'll need to get some artists into the place. As the UK general election looms, presumably we'll get the usual bunch of luvvies announcing that, if the Tories win, they'll all leave the country. This happens every election, and yet nobody ever enforces these limp promises.
My idea is this: the day after a Cameron victory, a bus drives round the country picking up every media type who's used this empty threat. They'd then be taken, by force if necessary, to the airport and deported to Iraq.
The genius of this is that these creative types would be forced to start a "scene" in Iraq that would help kick-start the recovering economy. This is a top scheme, I think you'll agree? And yet, three times have I now sent a basic outline to Cameron's "people" and have I had a reply? No I haven't... go figure.Reuse content