A modest proposal
for preventing the problem of the gentrification of our inner cities, and for making this trend beneficial to the public
By Howard Swift
Nothing can be more melancholy than seeing our once vibrant and battered brownfield spaces caked with checked shirts and reappropriated early-modernist design. The pastel colours, the exposed brickwork not as an opportunity, a canvas, but as a faux-individualistic statement.
How are we to cope with Keith from Moseley’s Prince of Wales turning from whacky local character with a thin grasp of planning law to a perfidious influence on independent culture at the exact point he owns not two pubs but three? And worse the third in an area which prides itself on its down at heel quirk.
To some the chain is a signal of hatred, but its main value is that the process of gentrification is complete: up-dos and animal print (that is with prints of animals, not their markings) is the new normal. We must tackle the issue at source, or joux.
For, we all like the idea that food range can extend further than a Ginsters. We appreciate the ability to buy ‘vinyls’ in an hour from our apps. But we are swamped with the swarm of moustaches, real and drawn, and our inner cities are at a breaking point.
Where is the meat going to come from for these new bars that are dressed as a slaughterhouse, stinking of beard wax, sweat, and in our minds, blood?
Therefore let no man talk to me of other ideas: of taxing big businesses at more than five shillings a pound: Of using neither clothes, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our councillor: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our cities, of quitting our animosities and factions, factions who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken by capitalism: of being a little cautious not to sell our city and consciences for nothing to devolution: of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these, ’till he has at least some glimpse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.
I shall now humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection. I have been assured by a very knowing Wolvonian of my acquaintance, that a hipster young-ish, healthy, well nursed, is a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled (‘pulled’ I believe it is called); and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a taco or other artisan street-food.
Their livers will fetch a fine price, as they already overfeed themselves at a street food fairs, rolling from cart to French-looking van, to gingham tablecloth. At a beer festival, one might try a number of ales, but at these street food festivals — indoor or not — how can one consume the number of lunches they do? By this proposal we may limit their gluttony and take advantage of it.
No doubt, ‘alternative’ and ‘independent’ businesses could take advantage of such trade, the slates and wood the food is served on becoming both an attractor and a snare. And the inevitable noise could be drowned out by judicious use of their wind-up gramophones. The facial hair, while no-doubt well-treated, is too harsh for use in stuffing cushions with birds on them, but may suffice for beds for small pug-ish dogs.
I profess that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my city, by giving some pleasure to the citizens. I have no beard, nor no small Kilner jars for the serving, nor a Farrow and Ball painted stall by which I can propose to get a single penny.