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Friday, 8 October 2010

HACKNEY, LONDON. AND MOUSTACHE RELATED INVESTING

When i bought my first ever flat in London Fields, back in 1999, the only guys with Moustaches in Hackney were hairy Turkish guys selling kebabs on Kingsland Road. I’d moved up from the then seedy Ironmonger Row in Shoreditch (of the famous Turkish baths), much to all my City Boy Colleagues shock and horror to what was a the time the ghetto front line. (they now all live here) Broadway Market E8 was a typical East End high Street, with the Cat and Mutton, a pretty dodgy boozer with a pool table and a bunch of kebab shops, greasy spoons, and vacant boarded up shopfronts. There was one art gallery there, owned by a cantankerous but very proud old guy who hated me for some reason and ruined one of my paintings.
Moustache Pioneer, Venezuala

However, I could see all the seeds in place for a textbook gentrification – At the time there lived a pretty messed up mixture of Blacks, Vietnemese, Turks and Hasidic Jews, none of whom liked each other particularly, along with a few cockneys, looney lefties and starving artists. Although it was dangerous enough, too dangerous for English people, the architecture in the area is great and the area was obviously posh 150 years ago. The most important seed was that there was an established community of artists and general crusties, living in squats and setting up some pretty crazy gigs and raves in abandoned buildings around. It’s also slap bang in the centre of London and while at the time the tube was a far off dream (opened this year), you could still walk from Shoreditch to the City in 15 mins.

Fast forward two years to 2002, and Shoreditch in particular really started to move. Despite being a total shithole. There was a whole bunch of crusty bars, the most famous being ‘333’ or ‘The mother bar’ which, along with the White Cube gallery opening on Hoxton Square were true catalysts that helped Hackney become the coolest part of London bar none. I’d bought as many flats as i could by then, then bought the then totally fucked ‘Bikes on Broadway’ shop at 73 Broadway Market, which i can now proudly say is the offices of Findlay Property Investment (website here if you want to rent a flat or invest or simply talk to nice Estonian girls in London) We kept the bike wheel, i cant remember why. Theres also some random neon bike sign upstairs, it was just too much hassle to take down, but i'd like to think it was our part in 'creating' the vibe there.
Broadway Market - Trustafarian Dickhead Central

The big turnaround in 2002 for Hackney, in my book, oddly enough – the defining moment if you like, was the opening of ‘dream-bags&jaguar-shoes' in 2002. They just got a shoeshop in Kingsland Road and threw in a bar and hey presto!! Every bar in the area was stowed out by that time with everyone thinking they were onto the coolest thing in town – you didn’t even get mugged in Hoxton Square anymore. There were bars everywhere, strangely enough mixed in with Strip Bars for the City Boys (where i used to have lunch i must confess) and thankfully houses prices were going through the roof thanks God.
Moustache HQ, Shoreditch, Hackney

However, if you walked up Kingsland road towards Dalston, a few hundred metres though thats where the real action was – there was a dodgy Russian bar called the Wolf and Rabbit, and a Black club which overnight turned into a Russian club (ahh Oksana from Lvov i’ll never forget you! ) You never knew what was going on in that dodgy looking warehouse where the noise was coming from – people would have punk gigs in their squats, striaght out of 'the young ones' and id usually end up in one underground all night bar (whos name i cant tell you) The owner i’m sure was a police informer, as every character under the sun was hanging out there looking shady. Every now again a big group of strange gangsters would come in, well dressed and looking like pro football players (they were big movers in the Heroin business ) would be well spoken and polite, and would all introduce themselves (all 6 of them) by the name of ‘Fletch’ Ive no idea why. The Turks run the heroin business in London, the would tell you and they were ‘in construction’ To add to the real life ‘snatch’ effect, they had some lovely illegal Ukranian girls working there, poor lambs.
Some parts of Hackney are yet to Gentrify (note lunchtime can of Carlsberg Special Brew)

Walking round today the place has totally changed. The tenants are much better for a start, and i don’t find guns in tenants wardrobes any more. Broadway market and London Fields are now THE destinations to be at in London. Its full of restaurants book shops and wanky galleries. There a bike shop cum cafe. There a guy on a monocycle cruises around. There are guys with stupid looking moustaches.

There’s good and bad to this gentrification – on the plus side, i’ve seen and met some great looking girls in Hackney, something you’d rarely see back in the day (except our staff of course but they were Estonian and Japanese imports) but on the negative side, it seems to now be full of twats. For example, here in Jaguar shoes, there are 3 guys with moustaches, including the waiter. The moustache count has reached 20% - which to me means time to sell up. Hackney has now peaked and become so cool its full of total tossers. So i’ve been to Foxtons and put all my places here up for sale. Buffalo i didn’t see a single moustache – a great buying signal if i ever saw one !

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