Bristol has been in the press a little bit recently.
The coverage wasn’t that fucking Independent article that gets shared every now and then on my Facebook because no one noticed it was published in 2014. No, two pieces of content touched on the South West city this week.
One by the Metro citing Bristol as the ‘kindest’ city in the UK in a typical marketing tactic where a company pays for a survey and then pitch it to every newspaper going to flog a holiday or a toothbrush or what-the-fuck-ever. That one went mostly unnoticed, although I’d invite the people who voted in that poll to look under any of the Avon and Somerset Police Facebook statuses, which usually say ‘BRING BACK HANGING’ when anyone’s been arrested for stealing berries from a hedge in St.George.
The second piece of press was a Vice article written by Anna Tehabsimby who’s currently serving as the Deputy Editor of Crack magazine. A very eloquently written article, which was basically a love letter to Bristol talking mostly about it’s burgeoning and diverse music scene and the hippyish community that inexplicably still exists in a large city like Bristol. Anna’s main point was to invite Londoners to throw off the shackles of big city living and move to the gentle covered-in-fucking-hills South West gem.
Lovely right? Well it seems that based on the backlash on Vice’s Facebook and the comments under the original article that people did not appreciate Anna’s open invitation to come to the kindest city in the UK. In fact, people who currently live in the country’s kindest city, kindly invited Anna to fuck right off with her suggestion of Londoners moving to the South West.
Why such the backlash? The central theme of the comments seemed to stem with the fact that it’s been widely reported that Bristol is no longer becoming the secret haven for hipsters and that housing prices, drinks prices and everything in between are rocketing up.
It’s no secret if you live here that Bristol’s housing market is fucked if you don’t have a house, and going amazingly if you do own – basically if you’re over 45. Bristol’s rent rose 18% in 2015, outstripped the national average rise of 4.9% handsomely only drawing with Brighton in the ‘LOL WHO EARNS THIS MUCH’ race. If you’re thinking about buying a house now then you better snap up that £200K gem in Easton which has 1 bedroom and looks like it’s been housing squatters for 40 years because that’s the best you’re going to get before the housing prices rise another 6% in 2016.
Simply put, people who live in Bristol are pissed that they’re being pushed out of their own city. It’s a relatively new idea that you may be priced out of the city you grew up in. Londoners have obviously been dealing with that reality for the past 30 years. However, it’s worth noting that it’s mostly white middle class hipsters that are pissed that Bristol has become gentrified to the point where they can’t even afford to take a yoga class or visit the newest gelato place (seriously why does Bristol suddenly have like 10 gelato places). Because anybody else who doesn’t fit in the ‘very middle class’ categories were already pushed out of Stokes Croft and North Street before long Meat Liquor or the North Street Standard opened.
A particularly poignant Facebook comment that accompanied the Vice article was “I bet the people who commented weren’t even born in Bristol.” A valid point; people who are commenting on a Vice article about Bristol were probably brought to this fair city because of UWE or the University of Bristol. Natives they are not, but does that give them less of a say in the gentrification of their adopted hometown?
I wasn’t born in Bristol; I was born in Windsor – where the fucking queen lives. I spent the first 10 years of my life in a small town called Shepperton, which is in Surrey, the whitest middle class county in all of England according to a survey by me “looking out of my eyes”. There is fuck all there, so I assume my mother thought “Why are we here, seriously.” And packed up to move to Bristol. I went from an Ofsted reviewed excellent school to a shit secondary school in Whitchurch where my clipped Surrey accent went down a treat and clashed horribly with my pre-teen gothic sensibilities.
I adapted though, I drank White Lightening in a park, I went to Lakota and didn’t do drugs because of scared, I went to the Black Swan and didn’t do drugs because of scared, I embraced my Bristolian lilt I attained once very smashed (only noticed by non-Bristolians, mind.) In my own mind, I’m from Bristol, if people ask I say ‘yeah, I’m from Bristol.’
The backlash of someone openly inviting Londoners to move to Bristol is misplaced. It’s not London’s fault that Bristol’s stocks are going up, it’s Bristol’s fault. You can’t be the cool well-reviewed club without someone spilling the beans and a bunch of normal people showing up and ruining the vibe. You created a successful night and now the entry prices have gone up and sometimes someone accidently spills a drink down your shirt. This metaphor got out of control a while back, but the point stands, Bristol had to grow, and to grow it usually costs.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t complain though, it’s bullshit that The Old Duke now charges £4.20 for a Thatchers Gold, but blame all the godawful craft beer pubs and microbreweries in the centre for fucking up your cheap drinks. Londoners didn’t cause that though, we saw the craft beer pubs and the southern BBQ’s and went ‘we want that’ and we got it, we just wanted it for a lesser cost.
If you’ve ever lived in London, you’re probably not that annoyed about Bristol’s rising stock. I lived in London for four years and fucking hated it, well okay, not hated it but I was pretty broke for a UK standard so living in London was just ridiculous. There are still things about Bristol that you could never get in London. You can still walk anywhere you want in Bristol; the whole city centre is around 4 miles across, and whilst the buses are awful it’s still £1.50 to get across town. Living in London you had to plan to get somewhere and leave maybe an hour to get there, possibly put down a small loan for the travelcard – it was an isolating and pretty unfriendly place to be because you never got used to it no matter what.
In Bristol, I feel like I’m in a giant village and to me it still feels like we’re all in this big secret about how great our city is. So complain away, but don’t blame London,
London is awful and we should invite those poor lost souls to our much greener pastures 😉
(THAT’S A WEED JOKE LOL 420 MAN)
March 26, 2016 at 7:54 am
An interesting read, especially as I too was born in Windsor, lived in London, until my twenties, and eventually rocked up in Bristol twenty something years ago. My love affair with the city continues, but I still say I am from London if people ask, followed up with ‘but I live in Bristol’ kind of meaning that I am from here now. Nice choice of image too.
March 28, 2016 at 4:28 pm
Thanks for reading! I feel like there’s a lot of people who have Bristol as like an adopted second hometown.
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