I used love going to Brick Lane on a Sunday afternoon. The laid back bohemian vibe with a mixture of artists, writers and its traditional Bangladeshi Community. Would I have the sweet potato curry or an Ethiopian Injera wrap, from one of the many stalls offering an array of world cuisines at the indoor market. Browsing the oddities on sale at the makeshift market stalls set out on old bed sheets covering the pavement, wondering, would anyone ever buy, one size nine black leather gentleman's shoes, with the lace missing.
But like any big city things never stay the same. Like a living organism, always growing, always evolving. But in evolution there are always winners and losers, and in the case of Brick Lane, those who believe the area is flourishing, others who see it dying a slow painful death. I most definitely fall into the second camp.
It was events in February 2012 that for me marked the start of the slow demise of the area, when the council, without consulting the local residence started work to Tarmac over Brick Lane's famous cobbled street. What followed was a series of measures to sanitise the area - 'give it a much needed clean up' - in a bid to attract more investment into the increasingly fashionable East End. Rents rocketed, forcing many traders out of Brick Lane and nearby Spitalfields market. They were replaced by coffee shops and cocktail bars to cater for the influx of hipsters, with their ill-fitting jeans, ripped t-shirts and sporting beards that would have Hagrid cowering in the corner.
Then it happened. The one thing that provoked me to write this Blog. The very same fast-food chain that in 2011 had posted banners on the side London buses reading - ' ....With our new tandoori sub you can forget Brick Lane.' - two years later, opened its first branch of Subway on the street
I admit I still enjoy the occasional hot chocolate in one of the countless coffee shops littering the street. Taking a stroll from one end to the other you never know what you might see, and with little gems like 'The Rich Mix' around the corner, Brick Lane will limp on for some time yet. But with the local council seemingly keen to steam roller over any remains of this areas rich cultural heritage you wonder for how much longer it can survive.
Would I have a salt beef bagel from the long-established 'Brick Lane Beigel Bake' or a 6-inch Meatball Sub.
I know what I'd choose every time.