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Made in Shoreditch

I also contribute a weekly column to Made in Shoreditch magazine called 'Old East End/New East End', where I look at the relationship between the East End of old and new, looking at the changes and the stalwarts in landscape, residents and culture, focussing on one street or district each week. You can find it here.

Ah, Excess

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The obvious by-product of abundance is excess. Us Brits, we seem to love it. I dare say I'm no exception to this in respects. However, our excessive consumption knows no bounds and we've reached a point of such late Roman proportions that I think we might be at breaking point. The good news is it makes for fucking hilarious viewing.

Tricky - Excess

A spate of lads'/birds' holiday shows have been on our TV screens recently, with tonight bringing us Channel 4's What Happens in Kavos... - clearly Channel 4 couldn't wait to get in on the schlocky action provided by BBC 3's Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and ITV's Magaluf Weekender. These shows highlight the gratuitous galavanting our late teens love to practice during the summer and set out to shock a middle class, middle aged stream of parents who seem happy to constantly parade their disgust at such matters. Indeed, the wasteful, nihilistic behaviour of these young boys and girls is really quite shocking (though, only about 6 or 7 years ago I'd have been there myself I must concede), but, quite frankly, these fleeting moments in the sun before they head off to Uni or the production line (or wherever kids go when the fees are too high and there are no jobs available) are quite understandable really. They go off and let off some steam for a week or two amongst some like-minded folk in the sun, safe in the knowledge that they're due to be headed back to 'Broken Britain' at the end of it all. Excessive drinking, fucking and vomiting ensues and they come back to Mum and Dad fully knackered. Job done.

Following the herd down to Greece

The actions of those pseudo bourgeois parents of theirs, however, are rather more inexcusable and downright unexplainable. Will Self's wonderful 10 min tirade at the actions of folk whose sole purpose these days is so sonorously to consume mass amounts of poncy nosh highlighted this wonderfully on Radio 4 the other night. His A Point of View special on what is conventionally known as 'the foodie revolution' was a tour de force in cultural comment which left me in no doubt that I utterly agree with Mr. Self. Curtness was not the tone of the day (and why would it be with such a doyenne of wordsmithery?) as Self ran through all of the problems with this fat, feckless attitude towards sustainability and cultural capital. A clever line about how middle class aspirations are now seemingly more achievable through Dorset Vinny instead of Warwickshire Shakespeare, which I cannot now fully recall to quote, stuck out particularly and, at the risk of turning this into a televisual polemic, it is really Channel 4 and the like who are pushing this agenda. Indeed, as those parents sit around disgusted by the ludicrous habits of their excessive spawn, as they mull over why young Jack and Sarah cannot resist going so wild with their booze, they guzzle Pinot Noir and chomp on over-sized portions of baked Camembert with aplomb without a thought for the waste or the health problems this may cause. Like some truly crazed bunch of addicts, they cannot resist discussing the merits of grilled figs and rare steaks and potatoes dauphinoise as they watch Jamie do it all in half an hour and the truly ridiculous Heston Blumenthal make chemistry cocktails out of cockles and cheese.

The respectable face of uber consumption - sole fillets

Consumption is a monster, however, those who practice it in its ugliest form seem to be overrun with disgust that their kids have no control either. The hypocrisy is leaden by its own weight and in any case, they raised them. Seemingly, though, we will not get past this until the major television companies stop exploiting all of the facets of excess for entertainment, which probably means we will not get past this. May as well just sit back and enjoy the show.