The Bonneville in Clapton: Some of you share the same sentiments


The Bonneville, a new French bar and brasserie on Lower Clapton Road tweeted something others in gentrified Hackney think but would not have the balls to utter in public or online. It was not well thought out or executed and their apology was very begrudging which threw a spanner into their damage control.  By all accounts it was a PR disaster for a new joint only opened a few days and on what would have been their first Saturday.

What has ensued has been a massive collective faux outrage on social media, because that’s what people on social media do best. Then there are the media reports/editorial hand wringing by many who are gentrifiers themselves benefiting from gentrification in areas such as Hackney.

Had it not been for The Bonneville’s tweets, the stabbing may have gone unreported just as many others do in Hackney, but this victim stumbled into a bar with lousy social media awareness as they were preparing to welcome customers for their first Saturday in business.

According to the folks at The Bonneville, the police got there in minutes as they were already en route looking for a bloodied man carrying a crow bar people had reported seeing. However the tweets from staff of the brasserie describing him as aggressive and uncooperative while being treated, only sent the social media crowd into a frenzy and baying for more blood.



 The invisible divide

By Monday morning I was laughing at the whole sequence of events and was less sympathetic towards the stabbing victim.  It was open season for the usual suspects on Twitter. The fact that the person who originally kicked off the Twitter storm is a two faced bored housewife from Homerton who not that long ago waged a nasty and violent campaign against a British Asian owned business on her street, shows how superficial this backlash is. It’s all about hash tags and feeling like you are doing something. She was yeeping, yapping and giddy with excitement, after her tweet was quoted in The Daily Mirror.

There is an invisible divide between the social classes and races that grows more and more with gentrification and new arrivals. This is pretty much Hackney for you today, Bonneville were just “unfortunate” to get caught. About three summers ago, following a shooting by rival gangs at London fields, Guardian journalist Paul Lewis, reported, he heard a young woman comment  “I hope it wasn’t one of us”  As it turned out it was. The man who was barbequing with friends was shot by a stray bullet was white and not a black gang member.

You see, there is a misconception out there that Brits are congenial, polite. A little stuffy even. There is an imagined undercurrent of self loathing and self deprecation that makes us think we are funny at our own expense. But the truth is, it’s false advertising. England is a nation of Post Menstrual Tension. A nameless, faceless, directionless pissedoffness, perpetual and unending, in all directions simultaneously, just bubbling away all the time.  But watch even the most mild mannered middle class member of every local historical or arts trust come apart like a cheap suit when confronted. Take for example an  organizer of Clapton Festival 2014, who told me (more accurately posted on a football forum) the only thing Black people have given Britain is AIDS. This came from an educated man, a Strategist in Asset Management. He should know better.

I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but remember the breath taking email sent by the late David White of the Clapton Arts Trust, which he had to apologize for?  He and another group fought hard against the Black owners of a building they wanted used for something else. 

Hi Everyone, As promised, a rare appeal for help on a local matter. An Ethiopian church group, based in Jamaica (I believe), have put in a planning application (no. 2011/3486) to turn the rare, early “Clapton Cinematograph Theatre”, at 229 Lower Clapton Road – in the Clapton Pond Conservation Area – into a replica of their “home”church in Jamaica.

When they lost their fight, a defiant  and deluded Julia Lafferty could barely contain herself and struck back angrily, even making up lies by telling me:

In Ethiopia you would almost certainly be locked up, Amnesty International are currently campaigning on the prison terms handed out to journalists Elias Kifle, Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye. But, according to you, only someone who is “demented” and “unreasonable” would care about that. Julia It is clear from Twitter that you were asked by the EOTC to concoct a story to promote their planning application. I provided you with a detailed interview but as this contradicted most of what you wrote in your article, you conveniently ignored what I had said. Far from keeping “a dignified silence”, there is proof that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has conducted an unpleasant and anonymous campaign on social networking sites attacking anyone who exercised their right to make representations against their planning application. (You are not the only site administrator keeping tabs on IP addresses).

Not all victims are equal

This may sound harsh, but I can understand why any business establishment would be upset about having to close on such an important night. I’m not excusing their tweets but here’s my perspective (since you didn’t ask). Someone stumbles into my establishment with stab wounds in a dodgy area.  I’d be wondering if there was someone with a gun or any other weapon following him.  My staff and I call emergency services and attempt to help, but he gets aggressive and is more interested in calling his home boys to find his assailant and get retribution. He’s uncooperative with police and paramedics too. My establishment is taped off for the rest of the night. You’re damn skippy I’d be mighty pissed off. Would I feel different if it was an innocent person who stumbled in? You damn right I would, but I can’t speak for the folks at The Bonneville.

While being stabbed is a horrendous act, there are people in Hackney who have little regards for human life, yours or mine. To them it’s cheap and can be ended in seconds just for being from a different post code,  encroaching on someones drug patch or looking at them the wrong way. Then there are the innocent bystanders like Agnes Sina-Inakoju shot dead by a stray bullet in a Hoxton chicken and chip shop. Some gang banger was aiming at a rival while waiting in line at a Hoxton chicken and chip shop.  Joseph Burke-Monerville was also shot as he sat in his brothers car, just streets away from Saturdays stabbing. I’d hazard a guess that the victim and his homeboys are right now planning their revenge attack.

The comments on social network are getting more vile by the hour as are the fake reviews. There’s nothing that hasn’t been said. Folks jog on. Some of you are hypocrites some just don’t see the big picture and there’s an awful lot of schadenfreude going on. I’m not over the moon about Hackneys gentrification and what it’s doing to some businesses, house prices, rent and the lives of sections of the community who are not benefiting from it.  Many of us concur with @Lottesometimes on Twitter when she says: “what Hackney needs is regeneration, not gentrification. We need to create local opportunities, not drive poverty out and pretend it doesn’t exist and then throw a tantrum like this one when we’re reminded that it’s not as easy as they make it to be”.

People put your pitch forks away, give The Bonneville a chance, they’ve been punished enough. Those shabby distressed looking walls, don’t come cheap and I hate to see any business fail because of a careless tweet that many of you have the good sense not to send, but share the same sentiments. Here’s their first review

About Remi

Remi Hackney Hive founder, publisher and contributor. Hackneyite and all round Girl Friday, who couldn't wait to leave Hackney and London behind her. After hitching her wagon in California, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana for 18 years, with a brief spell in Mexico, the prodigal daughter returned, happy to put an unconventional and risqué past behind her. She is owned by her two dogs Deffer(a Jack Russell & Darcy a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix) and proprietor of London’s finest and long established pet sitting service. The big smoke is home for the moment, but she desperately yearns wide open spaces, where she hopes to call home in the near future.


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