I went back home from Christmas, like everybody does. Back home with mom and dad, back home with the family and the usual quarterly meeting with what used to be you old room. Quarterly meeting with what used to be your old computer and 6-hour train ride to the North to visit the relatives and time enough for self-reflecting.
It is past 21-12-2012 and we haven't died. This was a far bigger hoax than the stupid year 2K computer crash that managed to sell all sort of fixing crap to avoid a stupid figure disaster that some PhD IT engineer apparently didn't thought about back in the early days.
All and all 2012 has been a pretty good year. In fact, now aged 26, I am enjoying things, little things, even more than before. Seems like this great City has caught me right at the peak of my cultural development, so I have enjoyed every single minute of it.
2012 packed the greatest of celebrations and all that involves them: Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games. Transport for London suffered a major facelift and now is looking better than Mel C post Spice Girls Era. Summer was surprisingly calm in the centre and London was dressed to impress all year long (let's not count Bishopsgate Road, near Dirty Dicks: this bad boy cannot be kept clean, not even putting a bin every foot).
East London has been crowned the official trendsetter and people is not afraid of popping around deep Hackney on the weekends anymore. In fact, hipster media says that you should be seen in postcodes around EC1 and E19, while WC1 to W1 are so 2010... Street Feasts conquered the hearts of us skint Londoners, which now we have forgotten about eating a meal sitting down. A fiver per item, and sitting on the floor of a derelict warehouse is what you have been supposed to be doing this last summer, while testing the new lager or real ale from the microbrewery round the corner. The 'shabby chic' has displaced the Swedish angular white furniture. This year's all new places required a menu written in white chalk in a blackboard, mismatched school chairs, exposed wooden floors and old mattresses as up-cycled lamps.
People in 2012 didn't want to eat small portions in a massive designer plate anymore. People pilgrimed around the city in search of the latest pop-up food joint to eat in cardboard boxes with their fingers. Because just in case you didn't noticed, hot dogs are not in anymore (except Big Apple Hot Dogs or Bubbledogs): the new fast meaty solution is the burrito in all shapes and forms. High end fast food.
But I lied when I said that E* postcodes were the only ones allowed this year. In fact, the dirty South is the alternative for the Dalston Superstars. SW2 is getting strength, and I could really support the fact since I moved to Brickstance (the stone of Brixi, a saxon Lord). I can support this affirmation as i brought with me on my train 4 London-related magazines which, as the season demands, wrap up the year, and all 4 of them affirm that the best Burger in town can be found In the upcoming Brixton Village, really, at Honest Burgers. Really good burgers are now the new fish and chips. We don't want more beans on toast. Because last year, the best burger was crowned up on the East, on a shy school yard, at the Netil Market in London Fields, off a caravan with old school speakers, but people thought it was a bit too much to pay 8 quid to eat the burger under the rain, Lucky Chip.
Before somebody asks, NO, I haven't tried those famous burgers, but I have had dinner in nearby places around the market and both for quality and price, I have reassured myself in the fact that I will never ever set a foot in McDonalds or similar again, as Prima Donna served me a burger in Ciabatta Bread of the size of my head for less than a Whopper menu. However, confessing myself as guilty as all of yours, I will admit breaking the rule when very late at night, after a big night out, the local chippie that offers chips and chicken for 2 quid is an effective reliever and needed cure for the next day hangover.
I must admit that now matter how hip people want to eat, they now and then want to it their buttocks in any sort of horizontal surface for a while. The same way that in spite of trendy burritos and Mussels and chips pop-up, people still adore the good old pizza, and for me there are two choices: South for Winter and East for Summer, and famous reviewers agree. I almost felt down off my communal wooden bench at Franco Manca at the Village but Hackney Wick rocked my socks after a very gloomy day, the sun finally set and showed my path to Hackney Wick and something divine served me Potato and Sage pizza at The Crate that made me forget about the Olympics and my wet socks.
And people back home keep telling me how bad food this in this great City, and I chuckle inside thinking: oh, you have now idea, and it is better it stays that way. People keep telling me about surviving the bad weather, which fair enough, has been a nightmare this last summer, but as cure for it, somebody decided to chuck tons of fine sand on top of the Roundhouse and named it the Camden Beach.
If still not enough, a group of people decided also to start a market down the canal and THAT was absolutely beautiful. Floating market: brilliant.
I have eaten a two course dinner at a Supermarket and I have discovered secret roof terraces in Dalston
But yeah, living aside Street Food, Food Markets and pop-up shops, in spite of me being fully employed and spending horrendous amounts of time commuting, I managed to see probably all the bands I wanted in the best little venues of London, managed to go to crazy corners of the city: end of tube lines or brand new postcodes to discover derelict bunkers or party in potential festive venues that now have closes for stupid organisation and lack of safety.
Bands, lots of bands: Sleigh Bells, Spiritualized, The Raveonettes, Glasvegas, The Cribs, DZ Deathrays, Dark Horses, Two Wounded Birds, Mika (!!!), The Crookes, Hanni El Khatib, Jack White, Electric Guest, Crocodiles, The Pukes, The Futureheads, The Pukes, The Buzzcocks, La Femme, Dirty Beaches, Deap Vally, Django Django... Even one of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, with Imogen Heap included.
And I feel like awarding the venues: The Lexington for value/money and cool for having two floors (but he quiz night sucks), Roundhouse best layout, Shacklewell Arms for being awkward to get there, Birthdays for opening way before Rita's was built, Electric Ballroom for its quirkiness, Heaven for the stinkiest (piss and beer), The Union Chapel for being the most beautiful venue in London, The Old Blue Last for its convenient location and dead chip gigs, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen is alright, intimate, Koko never fails but is way too red, Ally Pally for being ridiculously big (and sort of tropical) and Shoreditch Park (interesting story behind it) for being a cool park to host a city festival.
And is not all about music: I have managed to interact with a lot of my favourit artists working around the city and has left me thirsty for more. The annual meeting at White Cross Street Party introduced me to Milo Tchais and Stephen Ball, Rich Mix gave me a massive showcase of Cityzenkane, Tony's gallery showed me that a bicycle rode by Christian Grillitsch can turn out into pretty interesting art pieces, and the list just goes on and on.
Aw, good times.
Happy New Year 2013.
Definitely more stories.