London: The best of times

BC's been dwelling on the mountain of nostalgic coverage that accompanied the closure of Madame JoJo's in Soho. Celebrities and journalists have been lining up, to declare this not just the death of Soho, but of London itself: “Once [Soho] turns into a cascade of glass, then London is gone," says Rupert Everett.

Madame JoJo's was a great institution and the clean-up of Soho has cost it some of its soul, but Soho's transition from seedy to sought-after has been decades in the making. When BC worked there 10 years ago, it was already dominated by clubs, bars and restaurants for ad agencies and media companies. The internet was busy killing off the porn shops and Westminster Council was doing the rest. We'll be going back to Soho tonight, for a friend's farewell party and nothing much will have changed in that decade, except perhaps fewer doorways will open onto yellowing corridors, lit red. Are the brothels the kind of thing Guardian journalist Eva Wiseman mourns when she uses Soho's fate to ask whether the "London we love" is dying?

The brothels, like the treasures that Wiseman lists - the cinemas, the cafes, the cheap bagels, Central St Martins - haven't disappeared of course, they've just been displaced. Cut off one of London's heads, two more will take its place elsewhere in the capital.

The London of the and 80s and 90s, when most of these commentators grew up and enjoyed themselves, was simply much smaller and less dynamic. The fact that so much nostalgia can coalesce around so few places (JoJo's, the Wag, the Groucho) shows how narrow London's horizons used to be. Bohemian London didn't just get forced out of the West End, it outgrew it. Once, decadence was confined to a handful of streets. Today, it spills out to Brixton, Peckham, Dalston and a dozen other neighbourhoods. When our ex went to Central St Martins, it was a crummy collection of buildings scattered across London. Now, the college lives in an incredible new home, on a site which was once a polluted no-man's land.

London nostalgia has become toxic and tedious. And it's not only BC that's bored of it. Giles Coren, writing in Time Out, captures it perfectly:

"Well, they are ladies and gents of a certain age, who for most of their lives lived in a London of closed boozers, awful food, stinky communal pissoirs, graffitied public buildings, incipient sexism and racism, and danger on every corner. 

"And they are just so jealous about the great things their children’s generation are doing to this city that they want to nip progress in the bud by objecting to damn near everything. They want to turn the clocks back to a time that they somehow perceive as having been more ‘real’, because it was their own miserable reality growing up, and they want it to be ours."

Of course, urban decay has its own charm and change means inevitable loss. It is impossible not to regret the Venue's decision to switch from showcasing indie upstarts to hosting tribute bands (though, ironically, the nostalgics are to blame for that, too). But if you're not having illicit or extravagant fun in London any more, don't blame the city.

London didn't get old. You did.