The Job Centre - Creating work for the outraged

The Job Centre pub on Deptford High Street, has earned itself an article on The Guardian's Comment is Free (the left-wing version of the Daily Mail sidebar of shame) today.

The article by Jane Elliott criticises the decision by owners Antic to name the pub after the building's old function, accusing them of insensitivity at a time of austerity and in an area of deprivation - with irony no defence. Elliott calls it "unemployment packaged as fun decor for those with disposable cash."

While BC wouldn't have gone down the route Antic chose, we're not quite sure what the philosophical difference is between naming a pub after a job centre (a place designed to help those in need) and naming a private club after a hospital (a place designed to help those arguably in even greater need).

In the course of the article, the author - herself a newcomer and suffering a little from gentrifier's burden - manages to chuck in a couple of clichéd untruths about the impact of change on the area. First she writes:

"Older residents see the more affordable stores on which they depend displaced by pricier establishments."

That is not a picture of Deptford High Street that anyone would recognise. In addition to the dozens of shops that have served the local community with varied, low-cost produce for years, there are many more pound shops and a thriving market, catering for the frugal. The bar, like many other new arrivals, has displaced nothing other than an empty shell.

Elliott also describes Deptford as a victim of:

"A perfect storm of gentrification and austerity currently dismantling low-income neighbourhoods."

But while individuals may have been hard hit by recession and reform, the same cannot be said of the neighbourhood. Not only is the private sector healthy but Deptford is uncommonly well-served by public investment - a refurbished swimming pool and leisure centre, a brand new library and community centre and a handsome new public square sit side-by-side, right in its heart, while the markets ensure that Deptford is the busiest, buzziest part of Lewisham at weekends.

Like The Secret History of Our Streets, this article begins with a valid thesis and then veers off into negative caricature in order to make the narrative fit their political agenda. It does no-one any favours - not least the people of Deptford, who deserve to have their home celebrated in the media for a change.

57 comments:

Ala Skrakowski said...

Here here! Deptford is a wonderful place full of community led-initiatives as well as government funded investment. It's on the up, but not in a gentrified way, just smart enough to use it's assets best by building up on river and improving the functions we already have. It's still rough around the edges, and then some but that's just one of the reasons why I love it. And the DLR, I love the DLR.

Chris Wheal said...

Guffaw! You must have been had - that is comedy academic waffle. It is surely a joke. And to pander to my prejudices the "lecturer in contemporary literature and culture at King's College London" uses the word "literally" incorrectly.

kettle said...

It must be nice to have a job where you can spend a bit of time working on your own blog rather than doing what you're employed for (how's the PR for the fracking industry going by the way?). Still, probably not much more than 30 seconds thought put into this . . .

darryl1974 said...

Gosh. I went to the Job Centre on the first night six weeks or so back and it wasn't twee or gentrified at all. Just a boozer, with the range of people you get in Deptford. I liked it. What I don't understand is why it's taken the author a few weeks to work up the outrage when Antic's plans had been known for at least a year before the place opened.


I'm more curious about why the old Model Market in Lewisham was emptied out before being hawked around as some kind of Dalston foodie nirvana. That's a far more worrying sign of locals being shoved out than somebody opening a pub.

Brockley Nick said...

Nice one. I am on holiday today as it happens.

max doom! said...

these outraged-by-everything idiots wouldn't even bother if the only way to voice their outrage involved a stamp and an envelope. some other bonehead on twitter @DawnHFoster has got in a right froth over it.

CG said...

The Job Centre isn't a very relaxing or comfortable place to sit and have a drink, which is a bigger problem than the "offensive" name. At least Deptford now has a(nother) pub when so many are closing and it's created some, er, jobs?

max doom! said...

it does look uncomfy. there's a fine line twixt 'shabby chic' and 'shite'

CG said...

It's like a cheap version of Dry Bar inside.

kettle said...

Ever been in the position of having to go to a Job Centre to try and get work? Or perhaps you've been to a foodbank in times of need? The point is you don't know what you're talking about. To show your credentials you could do a few hours a week volunteering at the Deptford food bank instead of sitting on your arse pontificating - it might enlighten you.

heads u win tails u booze said...

Further east, Wetherspoons are moving into a working men's club. They also have a habit of naming pubs after their previous use. Where's the Guardian article about that? http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/11325157.Swanley_Junction_Working_Men_s_Club_to_become_a_Wetherspoon/?ref=mry

Testing said...

What are you on about? I've been to a job centre thanks, not this one though. I have no problem with the name.
Is the pub called 'The Foodbank'? If not you've just created a straw man

Brockley Nick said...

If that's your point then you have not understood the article. Enjoy your straw men

max doom! said...

stop crying, soft arse. and before you start, yes i've signed on and frequented job centres. not for many years luckily. there is no connection at all between this pub (which looks shite) and unemployment in the borough. if anything, affecting people's incomes adversely is the only effect this article might have once the OUTRAGE coalition of the internet crank up the boycott machine. all it needs is one of the coven to get involved - dent, moran and that potherb who works for new statesman or whatever. i too work in pr. now if you'll excuse me it's nearly time for my afternoon money fight and nap.

max doom! said...

ye gods there's a blast from t'past. still going i think

Newby said...

Ticks all the CiF boxes. Austerity. Tick. Horrible Tories closing down job centres. Tick. Sharp pick up in growth and dramatic fall in unemployment. Oh. Hang. On.

Anon said...

Jane Elliott needs the deprived, she needs them to stay where they are so she has a job and can exploit them for her own financial well being and personal satisfaction.

The gentrification of Deptford by the likes of Christopher Marlowe & Sir Walter Raleigh have not been good for the area.I mean apart from pushing up house prices what has John Evelyn, Grinling Gibbons, Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, John Penn II, done for the area?
The railway was only introduced to Deptford for the well off the poor hardworking locals had walk, lets get back to those days when the down trodden working class knew their and could go to Millwall on a Saturday to chant racist slogans and have a fight.

Robert said...

The last time I looked, low-income working class people quite like to have a drink - so I'm sure no-one apart from middle class apologists are offended in the slightest. The main thing is, a good sized space is been used again on the High Street.

Robert said...

I have signed on there in the past - though I have yet to drink there. I'm sure it's only a matter of time though.

Anon said...

How ironic the "senior lecturer in contemporary literature and culture at King's College London" Jane Elliott doesn't mention she's taxing the deprived residents of Deptford on a daily basis.
I'm sure it must be awful for her living on an income taken from the less well off being forced to shop at expensive shops such as Iceland & Primark.

Monkeyboy said...

...although if its "contemporary literature and culture" then shes using "literally" correctly...literally...or somthing. LOL etc. ;)

anonymouse said...

Meanwhile, gentrification continues apace in Tyrwhitt Rd. Hanging baskets on the lampposts appeared today.

Danja said...

I think that the offence she refers to is was and always has been literally invisible.

OffDutyBill said...

Very well put - you should submit it to the Guardian Comment is Free! I meanwhile frequently hand in stamped envelopes to the barman at Sylan Post, much to his mystification. Oh wait.... :-)

Algernonian said...

There is a job board for jobs at Antic as you go in through the front door, so it kind of is still a job centre. A girl came in and asked for a job when I was in there a few weeks ago and was given details of who to contact by a very helpful and cheerful barman. Better than any demoralising experience I've had in job centres in the past.
I like the fact that it's scruffy - nothing more depressing than having to make an effort just to pop out to the pub. This will make it more popular in Deptford, not less. It is a huge space, so I'll be interested to see what they do with it - I'm pretty sure it's nowhere near finished yet. But most importantly, the beer is decent. The Royal Albert is the nearest boozer I'm aware of that sells a decent pint of ale. People complain about pubs closing down, then they complain when new ones open up - just because of the name!? Get. A. Grip.
A name that prompts conversation and debate raises awareness - great marketing. For all those people that boycott it, I suspect a larger amount will go just to see what all the fuss is about. Well done Antic!

Paddyom said...

I think there is absolutely no excuse for able-bodied persons to be long-term unemployed in Deptford, London zone 2, 6 minutes from London Bridge. I, like most people on this blog, see signs in shop windows seeking help regularly when I go shopping locally or in London. I signed on for 8 months recently in Catford, and I even saw a sign seeking help in a cafe window 2 doors down from the jobcentre. I understand there are some people in real difficulty, of course there are, but I would say at least half the people I saw in Catford job centre during my 8 months signing-on were able bodied men in their late teens to early forties hopping around high fiving their mates acting like this job-finding-malarkey was all just one big joke. You can see why a lot of the population (whether they vote red, blue, yellow or green) struggle to fully empathize with the jobless masses in this environment. In my experience there is a huge amount of the unemployed population in London choosing it as a lifestyle and denying the genuinely needy financial support.

Paddyom said...

The Model Market in Lewisham has been shut for years mate

darryl1974 said...

That doesn't mean the circumstances in which it was closed can't be questioned.

Paddyom said...

The model market closed well over 5 years ago, I wouls say about 7 or 8 years back. I am not sure how Streetfeast opening 2 weeks ago is tantamount to 'locals being shoved out'?

darryl1974 said...

As far as I can gather it was shut for a redevelopment which didn't happen, and Streetfeast has popped up in the meantime. I think it's legitimate to ask what happened to those local businesses and whether they failed or were turfed out - even if it was a few years back. Certainly a better use of journalistic endeavour than foaming off about a pub being named after its former use.

Mark Racz said...

this is quite a spectacular non-sequitur:

"While BC wouldn't have gone down the route Antic chose, we're not quite sure what the philosophical difference is between naming a pub after a job centre (a place designed to help those in need) and naming a private club after a hospital (a place designed to help those arguably in even greater need)."



As for how deprived or not Deptford is, I don't think a leisure centre and a "handsome public square" are the measure of how well people are living in the neighborhood. Those who scrape by (locals) won't pay 4 pounds to take a swim/run on a treadmill and a square (arguably extremely "handsome") won't cure anybody's unemployment, poor health or marginalization.

BOND said...

Fair point, but I live down the road in more 'handsome' Greenwich and Deptford's library, leisure centre and general shopping provision are all better than my local facilities.

Paddyom said...

I agree, the Guardian is pants.

Brockley Nick said...

You might accuse it of being a false equivalency but not a non sequitur. Still haven't explained what the philosophical difference is though.

I said austerity and recession have no doubt hurt many locals but the neighbourhood itself is doing well. I gave evidence (not just the civic improvements) - what is yours?

Max Calò said...

Just for the record the Model Market closed in summer 2010, it was basically closed by the owners of the shopping centre that were saying that the traders weren't paying rents. The traders were instead saying that the owners weren't collecting rents and they were all paying into an account even if it was not collected. Land Securities claimed it wanted the traders out because they needed the space for storage. I have to say, it had declined over time and when it closed half of it was selling mobile covers and phone cards.

darryl1974 said...

ah-ha - thanks Max, I never saw anything at the time (and stopped going in after Morps Music closed). I know LS was looking to knock it down, but there was an issue with asbestos being there.

Sue L said...

Deptford Job Centre was closed down under the last Labour govt, IIRC.

Ez said...

"Many of those moving into neighbourhoods such as Deptford – myself included – would prefer not to see themselves as part of the wave of displacement . . ."
Oh, the irony. Is an ironical presentation of irony non-ironical? Ms. Elliott seems to think that she is not part of the 'problem' that she describes.

Anon said...

Now if the bub held a 'contemporary literature and culture' festival Jane Elliott would probably be describing the pub as a fantastic addition to the area and she'd p on the idea such a festival was a sign of gentrification. That the name of the pub was a sign of the deprived local residents holding two fingers up to the government.
Is it known how long the deprived Jane Elliott has been living in Deptford.

Anon said...

Now if the pub held a 'contemporary literature and culture' festival Jane Elliott would probably be describing the pub as a fantastic addition to the area and she'd p on the idea such a festival was a sign of gentrification. That the name of the pub was a sign of the deprived local residents holding two fingers up to the government.



Is it known how long the deprived Jane Elliott has been living in Deptford.

terrencetrentderby said...

Anyone know if the sorting office in Brockley is pub material (think the excellent Sylvan Post in Forrest Hill)?

Don't need it anymore since the postman has decided to hide my parcels under my doormat while I am at work, by some miracle (or maybe this is the plus side of gentrification?) none of them have been stolen.

Anon said...

Checking the CV of Dr/Professor jet setting Jane Elliott she appears to have more than one job. The ironic thing is she doesn't see her herself as part of the problem she writes about....according to her academic befuddled brainbox Deptford would be spoilt if living conditions were improved that should remain as they are, nought she thinks the removal of open sewers as gentrification.
It's people like well educated Dr Jane Elliott in well paid publicly funded jobs who create far more deprivation than a pub which creates jobs and a social meeting point. Anyone know how many deprived residents of Deptford attend her lectures?

Mark Racz said...

I fail to see how enumerating a library and a leisure centre is proof of Deptford doing alright. There's obviously merit in these being built, but I do not know if they solve too many of the pivotal problems of the locals. Anyway, my point is that you need more than this to claim that Deptford is doing alright. Is a better/nicer place to go to, but I don't know if life is better there. Still, I think the discussion derailed from the original idea, that of the pub.

I think it can be a non-sequitur; initially there seems to be a connection between the two parts of your sentence (that of naming pubs/clubs after the former function of their buildings), but there is a logical rapture in it- unless you were trying to say that it's a pattern. I non-ironically declare that I don't understand what you mean by "philosophical" in this context.

Last, it is sad to see how much off-topic trash (not from you) is directed towards that Guardian columnist; apparently having a socialist opinion and teaching literature (is that a proper job? really?) are too posh of a meal for enlightened Brockleyners.good thing we have a quirky library in a phone booth.

NAT said...

I think that was instigated by the not very posh at all Tyrwhitt Road lot, but I could see how easy it would be to mistake this for evidence of darker forces at work.

NAT said...

Leaving the Shite aside for the moment, there's a fine line between Shabby Chic and Scruffy Posh. Hilarously the Mercury's pubspy, made this, for many, the ultimate faux pas, in his review of TheTalbot. I have no intention of going anywhere near something called 'The Jobcentre', but can only point out that 'The Jobcentre', as I knew it, was never a comfortable place to sit and have a drink.

Iain said...

Reckon they should close down the market, then open a pub called "deptford market.". Then close down tidemills, open a cafe called "tidemills". Then close down paddy power and open a pub called "The bookies". Positives- new places to drink. I'd have nothing to talk about if I couldn't talk about new places to drink. Negatives- it's a bit victorian. A place with no infrastructure or ways to help classes of people, but lots of places to drink.

inverted comma said...

She writes:

"To do something ironically means doing something with a wink and a nod
that says you aren't "really" doing it. Much hipster style involves
adapting formerly déclassé activities or objects in this way. When it
comes to gentrification, though, this inverted-commas aesthetic has a
special resonance. Many of those moving into neighbourhoods such as
Deptford – myself included – would prefer not to see themselves as part
of the wave of displacement and feel some allegiance to the kind of
progressive politics that protects and supports low-income inhabitants.
Ironic style distances the process of gentrification by putting it in
inverted commas."


I am sure the residents of Deptford are eternally grateful for this remarkable noblesse oblige from their new neighbour. For such an erudite lady to take issue with the wanton use of inverted commas by beardy arrivistes and pen this anguished cri de coeur is solidarity indeed.

Testing said...

They have their bone and they aren't letting go http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jul/09/job-centre-bar-backlash-from-locals-in-south-london-deptford

bad publicity? said...

It would be difficult to buy that sort of press coverage.

I think they should start selling false beards just in case the TV cameras turn up. It needs more of hipster vibe rathert than the unfinished building site image it currently has. Maybe they should play UB40 on the speakers and have a series of ironically named beverages.

This could run and run. Dalston eat your heart out.

AliAfro said...

Its quite simple really:

If you can have the Hospital Club in an old hospital why cant you have a Job Centre bar in an old Job Centre?

A non-sequitur is when a stated conclusion is not supported by its premise. That doesn't apply here.

'Philosophical' in this context is referring a systematic approach to reasoning. i.e. What is your reasoning for there being a difference between the naming a club after a hospital vs naming a bar after a job centre?

Gill said...

Antic "runs over 34 pubs and bars" - would that be 35 then?

diagnosis said...

Clearly the great plume of waccy baccy smoke from the Albertines rooftop blaze is still lingering over Deptford and befuddling the perceptions of the residents.

Ala Skrakowski said...

Well I'd much rather live in New Cross/Deptford than farty old Clapham or even worse... NORF!

Jimbo2010 said...

The article was a publicity drive of fake outrage by a local political party...this has now been uncovered.

terrencetrentderby said...

Idea for one of those awful pop up "dining experiences"- The Food Bank, on the site of an evicted actual food bank? Good huh?

Mungo said...

I think "The Refuge" would have a nice ring to it.

terrencetrentderby said...

Situated on the site of a closed down (due to the austerity cuts) women's refuge.

Brilliant.

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