Hipsters have taken over parts of many cities around the world but, despairing at their uniformity, Kevan Christie finds refuge in a special place just off the M90.
On a recent trip to London and then Paris, I was struck by how bland the so-called hipster areas of both cities have become. There’s a uniformity to it all, from the endless graffiti to the predictable Banksy-style imitations and ‘edgy’ murals on the side of the buildings.
Every big city and most small ones now have their designated hipster areas. In Edinburgh, it’s Leith, while Finnieston in Glasgow has been captured and no doubt someone in French vegan trainers is checking out the Hilltown in Dundee as we speak.
I noticed the familiar tropes walking down Leith Walk where I played a game of “guess what that pub used to be called?” and overheard a jakey in the Silver Bowl Chinese takeaway ask for avocado with their chips and curry sauce. It was a relief to make it to The Central Bar at the Foot of the Walk, which thankfully hasn’t caught the hipster bug and reassuringly still resembles that boozer in Star Wars.
All this beards, workwear, gin and endless tattoo patter has gone as stale as a sourdough rye bread – that’s spent too long in the brown paper bag. It’s being going on for what seems like an eternity now and, like punk, probably hit its peak for a six-month period, this time in the Hoxton area of east London in the early noughties.
Anyway, who in their right mind pays to let another adult draw on them?
What was supposed to be a celebration of ‘creativity’ has developed a herd mentality and throwing words like craft, artisan and street at things won’t save the ‘local’ sheep people in their nice spaces. The real locals, meanwhile, turn a raised eyebrow to the gentrification of their area and just carry on as normal.
Don’t get me wrong though, hipster culture has some obvious benefits and I enjoy the heart-healthy benefits of an avocado as much as the next person.
Not having to shave everyday is an added bonus and the standard of coffee has definitely improved.
This obsession with soundbites from hipster culture has seeped into other areas and the latest fad seems to be lobbing the word tech – short for technology, for those in the ‘help the janitor’ class – onto business sectors. So, you’ve got your basic medtech, fintech and foodtech, to name but three, for those of us who give a tech about such matters. As a young person might say, ‘that’s not a thing’, although some bright spark will tell you how much the latest tech is worth to the economy ... stupid.
All this time spent in the big ‘sin’ cities meant I was relieved to get back home to the Kingdom and, more specifically, the Fife Leisure Park where I like to hang these days.
OK, you’re probably thinking that it’s not healthy for a 50-year-old man to be spending so much time in a retail park but allow me to make the case for the defence, your honour.
You see, I am a teenager of the 1980s, raised at a time when all things American where considered with wonderment and going Stateside was a pipe-dream for most Scottish bairns. I was lucky enough to make the 27-hour round trip to Florida with Porty Thistle boys club back in 1980. I saw George Best play for the San Jose Earthquakes against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and came home with a suitcase full of tube socks and ‘Soccer is a Kick in the Grass’ t-shirts, much to the envy of my pals.
So, when Thatcher (the milk snatcher) decided retail parks and their townie cousins, shopping centres, were to be the new temples to consumerism I was there in a mall-rat heartbeat.
Just off the M90 past Amazon as you come over the Queensferry Crossing, the Fife Leisure Park can be seen from the motorway emitting a welcoming glow that entices weary pilgrims to turn left at Junction 3.
There’s leisure activity aplenty in the form of a gym, adventure golf and a bowling alley.
I’m lucky enough to count myself a member of said gym and often go there to read the papers and lug into the young fit people having endless conversations about eating chicken and other forms of protein.
There’s also the pictures – the films only seem to stay there for a week but they’re OK with you taking in your own sweets and juice, thus saving yourself a fortune on pick ‘n’ mix and pints of diet coke.
All the familiar names reside at the Fife Leisure Park like the street you grew up in. There’s the McDonald’s at number 5, the Nando’s from South Africa, there’s Frankie and Benny’s, sounds like they’ve got the tunes on again, ‘oh what a night’, there’s the new lad Tony Macaroni, lovely chap, Italian origin, got his own football stadium apparently, KFC in the corner so the Colonel can keep a watching eye on things and to top it all, set back from the street in its own private grounds, is the Dobbies Garden Centre.
My love for Dobbies knows no bounds. Friends, who might be hipsters, gave me a £50 birthday voucher for the place, which I think may have been gifted ironically. Who cares? I stocked up on butcher meat and traybakes with £16.50 to spare.
Dobbies are industry leaders in traybake tech which consists of sturdy bags and tongs. They’ve been inspiring gardeners since 1865 but I’ve never purchased a plant there. Things came to a head when I arrived home from Dobbies having bought a bright green, hooped jumper. My wife gave me short shrift and the charity shop knocked it back, so it’s been in my car boot the past six months. I’m thinking of poking holes in the sleeves and selling it to a hipster as the latest in jumpertech.