Hipsters and millennials are the objects of constant ridicule, but maybe that’s because we see ourselves in them
When I was a teenager, if you wanted to get served alcohol you’d go to The Anchor, a once-popular pub that had come to rely on the pocket money of underage school children to stay afloat. There was just one other regular there, a fat old man called Maurice who’d been sitting in the same chair, possibly drinking the same pint, for 900 years.
We’d flock in every Saturday night with our freshly gelled hairstyles and our grotesque sense of entitlement, and we’d hog the pool table, shout over the jukebox, get shitfaced and start either crying or fingering each other. Maurice, meanwhile, would sit in this smog-cloud of Lynx and chaos like a hippo stuck in a wheelie bin, thinking the world had ended.
Yet whatever living hell he was experiencing, whatever helicopter sounds and explosions were going off in his head, I had literally no sympathy for him. It was our time, our pub, and, if anything, he was the interloper, the one with the real sense of entitlement. Each weekend, he’d puff out his cheeks and look at the ceiling, perplexed at the state of his local, but others his age (with gout and impossible-to-erect penises) had had the sense to relocate. Maurice was marooned on the wrong island because he’d ignored the warning flares and refused to board a series of perfectly serviceable escape vessels.
For a couple of years we ran riot at The Anchor, then many of us went on to higher education, then moved to London in the late 1990s to continue the party. Down here you didn’t get so many Maurices in pubs – or at least, not then – but we still drank and shouted defiantly, and went to Gossips in Soho, and put coins into the jukebox at Bradley’s Spanish Bar and graduated from fingering to doing more acrobatic things with one another.
Then the world span, as it tends to. Hairlines receded, rings went on fingers, people swelled up and had babies, and in flocked another generation to grow bigger beards, get armfuls of tatts, turn knackered old vans into roving kitchens, and derelict shops into party destinations. And of course the polite thing to do at this point, as the Tale of Maurice can verify, would be to shuffle along and allow another dog to have its day.
But no. We – the London locals in our forties – have morphed into a generation of Maurices, sitting there, puffing out our cheeks, tutting about how ‘millennials’ are spoiling London, with their stupid innovative business ideas and their silly ability to make no-go areas suddenly seem vibrant and appealing. You can’t move for articles making them seem like dicks, which is enormously unfair, because, as our behaviour over the years proves, we were all dicks once. I, for example, was a gigantic dick for quite a long time.
We need to move on from hipster-baiting. We don’t want to be that fat old man, sitting in the same pub after its umpteenth facelift, awkwardly sipping from a coconut shell, a cocktail umbrella jabbing up his nose, wondering if this is really what life had in mind. It isn’t.
It’s just time to find another pub.
By Joshua Burt
Want more ranting and raving? Read Colin Hubbuck's column on why resurrecting the deceased could save our city.