Show me an aerosol-toting, graffiti-daubing hipster and I'll show you my nunchucks

Graffiti is celebrated by those who live somewhere gorgeous – without graffiti but with gated security – and totally, like, completely support youth expression

Click to follow
The Independent Online

In my home turf of east London right now, the hip things are beginning to eat each other. I'm sure this is gratifying news for all non-London readers. It's essentially around the Shoreditch area, where new-wave mudslinging has broken out over who exactly is ruining the wonderful status quo with their evil sandwich chain outlet, or novelty café selling only cereal. It is all quite fascinating. I watch, just like Pepys, but with better tits.

Because in approximately 33,298 incremental steps since 1990, the area has mutated from abandoned streets into a hipster Alton Towers. But it's only in the past few months that anyone seems to have noticed a possible dilution of "hipster purity". Hence, in 2015, the hipsters are now signing petitions by themselves, against themselves, to stop the other hipsters spoiling things.

I'm flinging about the word "hipster" here, because not only is it beautifully incendiary to hipsters, but there is no better catch-all term to sum up the whole glut of people – myself included – who choose to look daft and live here.

"They're opening a Pret! Everything is ruined!", one person in an Airwolf T-shirt and fractal-patterned barrecore pants will sob, seemingly unbothered by the honking Nike and Gap-infused pop-up mall; the five-storey private members club; the bespoke burger boutiques; and the "graffiti walking tours" on every corner, charging confused Japanese tourists £15 to look at globs of street effluent that may, or may not, be Banksy's phlegm. Behold this kebab shop door scrawled with marker-pen stick men. It's art. Come with me into this urine-drenched alley to see a stencilled, weeping toddler holding aloft a balloon saying "PEACE?"

I don't have a problem with Pret A Manger. A woman who is tired of Pret's cheese and pickle baguette and vanilla chai tea is tired of life. I use independent cafés run by hipsters all the time, mainly for the spectacle of paying £3.95 to watch a flat white take 47 minutes to be prepared and then delivered to the wrong table. No, it's the graffiti walking tours that have to go. We should never celebrate graffiti as it just bloody encourages them.

Yes, I'm sure you've set your Sky box – or whatever device you favour – to record BBC4's forthcoming A Brief History of Graffiti. Well good for you. When some teenage twonk in Barnstaple sprays "Gozzzy4evvvva" down the side of your gran's garage, making the "evvvva" part all swirly, like a giant pair of wobbly woman's knockers, it's because you've encouraged him to think it's the epitome of youthful self-expression.

The "evvvva" bit is Gozzy's "tag", don't you see? It symbolises the feelings of disenfranchised youth in Cameron's Britain. That's £15 please. Now let me show you some vandalism involving a giant snail smoking a joint. That's art too. "Evvvva" could also represent some of the helpess grunts Gozzy might make when, in my macabre imagination, I find him and set about him with nunchucks for ruining a perfectly lovely wall.

Graffiti is celebrated by two types of people: those who don't mind living somewhere that looks like a crime scene Helen Mirren would visit in Prime Suspect, and those who live somewhere gorgeous – without graffiti but with gated security – and totally, like, completely support youth expression.

I know this has became a dreadfully grey, fusspot thing to say, but I embrace curmudgeonism. "It's a bloody mess," I tend to remark as I pass the latest GCSE pass-grade daubings. Sometimes one might even catch "the artist" at work. This will invariably be an overgrown manchild in his late twenties, wearing cargo pants and some sort of stained windcheater, ruining a wall with a giant flower, bearing the biting epitaph "BUGGER THE BANKERS".

Then, having finished shading in the tricky whorl of petals, satisfied that his art has ordained that the bankers be buggered, our artist returns to his bedroom to lament quietly why the postcode he lives in feels so neglected, and why the mother of his children is so lacklustre about weekend access. A war be upon these people. I love the smell of white emulsion in the mornings.

When I come to power, much of Shoreditch will be painted a practical but uplifting shade, such as Farrow & Ball's Elephant's Breath. I'll paint some of Brick Lane myself. If any young hipster tries to stop me, I'll begin a long, tedious story about how I remember Shoreditch in the '90s, y'know, when hipster really meant hipster? And we didn't have mobile-phone apps or brand sponsorship telling us what was fun back then.

"I was at the Martina Topley-Bird album playback!" I'll shout as their eyes glaze over. "We had to come here on the No 14 bus. There was none of yer Uber back then, yknow?" While the hipsters eat each other, I'm confident most of the rest of Britain feels that what we need is a perfectly aimed atomic bomb.

@gracedent

Comments