There is no such thing as a Shoreditch Tart. I’m not talking about girls who trot around the East End dressed inappropriately. No, I’m referring to the wholly ridiculous, undersized and overpriced pastries served in the Horse and Groom in Shoreditch, London.
Shoreditch is full of wankers. Sporting overly groomed moustaches and rank lego-man haircuts – including mullets and worse – in a deliberate gesture to tease the boundaries of aesthetics. Wearing thick-framed glasses with no lenses. Hyper-skinny jeans which make them look undernourished and of ambiguous sexuality. Second-hand trashy shirts which smell damp and of old people. It’s all a rather desperate and bruisingly pathetic attempt to individualise and carve out a niche for the self, harking back to the 80s as a decade of style and progress with a nod of universal irony. But as the hordes of slovenly fashionistas saunter uselessly around the yuppylicious gentrified streets of this corner of the city, each with their own wacko haircut, ugly clothes or GameBoy hanging around their neck, they all ultimately, of course, look exactly the same and are equally contemptible. But it’s ok, because these Shoreditchians like to stay in their own part of town: they have created a fantasy world of ‘just for locals’ übertrendy pubs and ‘just for locals’ organic supermarkets. The rest of London can breathe a collective sigh of relief and relegate Shoreditch to the fringes of its consciousness.
I can deal with people wearing stupid clothes and wasting their time drifting from Crap Art Gallery A to Pointlessly Expensive Boutique B via Retro-Urban Coffee Shop C. I suppose that’s part of the tapestry of living in a city such as London.
But it went a step too far last night in the Horse and Groom – a pub which I only visited with a degree of resentment in the first place. It had the usual antipodean gap year students, French/Spanish farnientes in string vests and grandad cardigans and British wannabe ‘artists’ that live off daddy’s income in a grimey flat in Hoxton. And yes it has a few ales – to satisfy those punters who like to think that normal beer is below their station.
But they were also selling ‘luxury shoreditch tarts’. This is heritage-poverty-tourism at its very worst, as it does not take a genius to remark that there is no such thing as a shoreditch tart. Bakewell tart, yes. Eccles Cake, also yes. But Shoreditch tart, NO. And if it does exist, I’m sure it is not what they serve in the Horse and Groom: 9 square inches of frilly pastry, organic plum tomatoes and a leaf of locally sourced free range basil.
Worse still, I commented to the patron that there is no such tart as Shoreditch tart, and he claimed to the contrary that there is, indeed that they are a staple in nearby Bethnal Green. Au contraire, I replied, they are quite definitely not. Shoreditch Tarts are the stuff of urban legend.
As I chew on my disgruntlement, I’ll leave you with a clip of my Christmas song of choice – with some charming stylistic variation.