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 to London, happy to put an unconventional and risqué past behind her. It sometimes feels like she’s still at war with herself. This often leads her into a whole lot of trouble, although it’s fair to blame it on some of her best qualities: intelligence, original thinking, willingness to take risks, skepticism, rebelliousness, independence, and creativity. But you know what, much of the trouble she gets into is because she can’t help pointing out that the emperor is naked. Remi still lives by her own rules, nobody else’s. She is owned by her two dogs Deffer(a Jack Russell ) Darcy (a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix now deceased but can’t remove their names) and two Black cats she adopted December 2021, Desmond and Tutu. She is 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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7 Responses to "The Bonneville in Clapton: Some of you share the same sentiments"

  1. Making another attempt to comment, not allowing me.

    Comment by Delia on 18/06/2014 at 11:24 am

  2. It’s been fixed now. Sorry for inconvenience. For a while you were only able to log in using social media, but the regular way has been fixed.

    Comment by Hackney Hive on 19/06/2014 at 9:19 pm

  3. In full agreement with you Remi. They shot themselves in the foot with the tweets, but this continuing harassment and threats has to be criminal. I’d love to see any of them stop me from entering Bonneville.

    Comment by Cob on 19/06/2014 at 8:08 pm

  4. Table for 3 this Saturday. The nut nut jobs can’t stop us.

    Comment by Harry Quagmire on 19/06/2014 at 10:49 pm

  5. (Thanks Harry, we shall be seeing you. Yes, I do work at The Bonneville.)
    Have tried leaving a comment – a 1,000 word essay of how it happened, more like – when you first published the above article, but had difficulty submitting, then the entirety of the text disappeared by the time I logged via Twitter, and then just didn’t have the nervous energy to re-type it, sorry.

    I’m in the hospitality business because I genuinely like people, and I guess I hadn’t realized before how would make one vulnerable to comments we’d received, Monday onwards, so I was a bit fragile. There’s only so many times one can be called ‘cunt’, ‘yuppy scum’ and worse, by people who gathered their information from 140-character incensed tweets about what they decided must have happened, and who never set foot in the restaurant, before one is affected.

    Our tweets were misjudged – all we asked my colleague is to let it be known to people, perhaps already on the way here, that we’re shut for the night, by the looks of it; no hashtags or picture – but we were too stunned and preoccupied with the sudden crime scene situation to have meant ill.
    It was not our launch party, just the first hour of the second Saturday when we swung the door open. No advertising, no website or active booking system yet, just practice runs for the kitchen and the ever-more confident bar, with the giddy collateral of satisfied customers, and now more and more guests dropping by in person, to secure a table for the next day.

    The young man (he’s 25 – I personally overheard the paramedic asking him for his DOB and then ‘and how old does that make you?’ to establish if he’s fully conscious) whirled in and started pacing up and down wildly in the front, muttering incomprehensibly. It took a few seconds before we could make out ‘ambulance’, and ‘been stabbed’, and then see him drop his pants, then shed his jacket and his west, and realize that’s all blood, covering his upper arm and dripping on the floor. My boss rushed upstairs, called the emergency number for the ambulance and the police. A guest at the bar counter tried to help us seat the man, who, with wound no longer truncated by the sleeve of the jacket, was bleeding violently, but the man just wouldn’t – continuing to pace and try to grab the phone from both my boss and a customer, wanting to call his brother. Then the police arrived, followed by the ambulance, and it then took no more than 5 minutes, to seat him down, uncover his torso – and the second wound on his back – tend to his injuries and get him off to hospital.

    I didn’t even see when the police tape was put up front, and we were declared a crime scene, but we were told the police but needed a download of our CCTV footage (which, btw, only showed him hurrying across the road, into ours, none of the altercation), then, as soon as they took our statements, AND that of the man, it would be over.

    When The Bonneville later tweeted about him not co-operating, and some on Twitter assumed that meant we wanted to make him into a baddie – and one person even saying that ‘the boy must have been running from some gang threat for years, and was afraid to speak’, or something of the sort – but, in reality, him refusing to speak about who attacked him, where etc not only meant that we remained a crime scene and closed to the public until close to 1 am that night, but that in the interim 30 policemen have had to work on tracing his whereabouts before the stabbing, asking shopkeepers, witnesses, gathering Hackney and private business CCTV footage, to establish what happened.

    Even so, I regard the aftermath, what it was fuelled into by a handful of vindictive individuals – who, frankly, do not sound like they were on the cusp of visiting The Bonneville otherwise – far worse than Saturday night, and can’t comprehend most of the accusations. And I am refusing to see knife crime as couleur local, part of the culture of Hackney that we failed, allegedly, to respect.

    I saw yesterday that the woman using the Twitter moniker ‘E9 Resident’ tried to implicate that you, Duchess of Hackney, are the Duchess a madame called herself, in an article about prostitution in the Independent, just because you disagree with her, regarding us and other issues relating to the community – if anything, that should prove it’s full-on lunacy, now, this Twitterstorm.

    Comment by Edina on 20/06/2014 at 4:54 pm

  6. I saw yesterday that the woman using the Twitter moniker ‘E9 Resident’ tried to implicate that you, Duchess of Hackney, are the Duchess a madame called herself, in an article about prostitution in the Independent, just because you disagree with her, regarding us and other issues relating to the community – if anything, that should prove it’s full-on lunacy, now, this Twitterstorm.

    Yes I’m the author and yes I ran an escort service in the US. I have no regrets no shame and have made it known.

    Sara Miller (E9_Resident) is just a very bored housewife who is pissed at me for nixing her plan to be the gate keeper of everything E9. I also exposed her racist campaign to have a British Asian business shut down in her area..

    Comment by The Duchess on 20/06/2014 at 6:16 pm

  7. I’ve lived in Hackney my whole life, born and bred. I am a working professional with many, many friends in Hackney from all walks of life.

    This is Hackney, drop your ‘gentrification’ rubbish, coming in like a bunch of colonialist treating the locals as ‘savages’ – again, this is Hackney and no matter how many ’boutique’ places you open up and think that the area belongs to you – it doesn’t. Let it be and stop being shocked and making uneducated comments when acts of violence happen – it could be you next, you are not and never will be 100% safe.

    Comment by Taro Baap on 25/06/2014 at 12:23 pm

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