A newly opened, east London bar made national headlines this week after a young man involved in a nearby street fight ran into the Bonneville bar and brasserie in Clapton bleeding from a minor stab wound. It was not the incident itself, that happened on the bar’s opening night, that attracted criticism, but what the bar tweeted after they were forced to close for the evening: ‘Some kid got stabbed over the road and decided to run into ours. Great look for our first week.’ Accompanying the tweet was a picture of the bar’s bloodstained floor.
Fair enough, you might say. It was a pretty insensitive remark. The bar admitted as much next day, but judging by the online response over the past few days, you would think they were responsible for every evil in the world. Angry messages appeared on Twitter and Facebook advocating everything from boycotting the bar to burning it down. The vast majority of those complaining weren’t even there on the evening in question and didn’t fully know what took place, but it didn’t stop them from rushing to judge and condemn the bar’s proprietors.
For all we know, the offending tweets may just have been written in the heat of the moment. After all, it was the evening the staff had been working towards for months, and it had been ruined. It might have been a flippant, throwaway remark (we all make them) after a long day. Who knows? But saying the wrong thing is apparently an unforgivable crime today. We know, if staff are to be believed, that the young man was ‘very aggressive towards them and more interested in calling his friends to gain retribution for his injury, rather than have his wound attended to’. So maybe they felt like they had a right to comment.
But something bigger lies behind this outpouring of vitriol over one new bar’s Twitter faux pas: gentrification. As one angry tweeter wrote, this is just ‘the latest example of hateful, destructive gentrification’. But what is it that’s being destroyed by gentrification? Rundown high streets, boarded-up shops, closed-down pubs and crumbling housing stock?
Who in their right mind would want to complain about the arrival of new and thriving businesses, bars, cafés, shops and services on their doorstep? I’m sure the vast majority of people who live in rundown neighbourhoods up and down the country would welcome the kind of development certain parts of London are now enjoying.