Keeping Hackney Crap


Mark Pawson has a t-shirt sale on!

He also sent me a small supply of these badges, which have caused much merriment amongst my friends from the ends.

“Keep Hackney Crap” will seem like an odd slogan to people outside of the borough, but to insiders it recalls some comments from our False Mayor, Jules Pipe.

False Mayor? Well, Jules is the official elected Mayor of Hackney, yes. But in Stoke Newington we have our own unofficial mayor, in the shape of a completely excellent geezer who wanders about looking snazzy wearing a chain of office of some description. Needless to say, most people I have raised this with have decided that they prefer the unofficial mayor.

Not least because of Jules’ very “new labour” tendency to harp on about how everything which involves big business and gentrification is brilliant and what everyone wants.

Jules Pipe

Jules Pipe

Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen

Last year there was a bit of a set to, when Childrens’ Laureate and all round good guy Michael Rosen had the temerity to criticise the Council’s plans to “regenerate” Dalston:

“But it hasn’t been ‘regenerated’ for the people living and working there. They’ve been shoved out. The only thing that’s been regenerated are the profits of the property companies and it’s the Labour council tipping our money into their pockets that has enabled them to do it. Regeneration? Degeneration, more like. ”

Obviously the control freaks at Hackney Council weren’t going to let that go, any more than they were going to let Iain Sinclair launch his latest book Hackney: That Rose Red Empire from one of its libraries. The False Mayor branded Michael Rosen part of the “Keep Hackney Crap Brigade”

To which he very sensibly responded:

“The point is, I don’t think Hackney is crap. I’ve never thought Hackney is crap. I’ve never thought that the wrong people were living in Hackney. However, I do think the council is crap. The accusation arcs back to Pipe himself. Perhaps he thinks Hackney and its people are crap and it’s his job to see it bulldozed, replanned and the people moved on. A different matter altogether.”

This, from the man who is also the author of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is enough to put Michael Rosen in the hall of fame.

It’s always rubbish when you have to explain a joke, but “Keep Hackney Crap” has to be seen in this context – a clarion call to keep what is great about where we live and resist the new shiny corporate vision which is being imposed on it by the political class and their property developer friends.


In all this there are also echoes of the council-sponsored “I (heart) Hackney” badges of yesteryear, as worn by Camilla. The Dutchess of Cornwall had said item pressed into her mitts by an eager Council apparatchik during a flying visit to the City Farm in Haggerston.

t-shirt by Stewart Home from the 1980s

Unfortunately Camilla wasn’t given the original “I heart Hackney” t-shirt which was produced by Stewart Home in the eighties.

More information:

OPEN Dalston (check the rest of their site as well).

London Coalition Against Poverty organised a “Hackney Isn’t Crap” walking tour with a nice booklet you can download as a pdf here

Oh yeah, and drop me an email if you would like a badge! (sorry, all gone! try Mark Pawson instead – link at the top!)


  1. i had totally forgotten ‘i’m going on a bear hunt’. thank you so much, i grew up on that. glad to realise the guy i respect so much as a grown-up is the same guy who wrote it. and to understand the finer points of the keep hackney crap campaign – pls bring me a badge to the big chill house on thursday!

  2. Mark also kindly gave me a bunch of those Keep Hackney Crap badges…. For James, the image on the T-shirt was cheated a bit. I couldn’t find a good picture of a down and out, so I took the image from a photo of a guy lying on the ground in front of some cops and cropped it…. But I did that T-shirt 25 years ago now and can’t remember exactly what demo the image came from. The yellow ink fake ‘piss stain’ was also an addition not on the original photo. The T-shirt itself sold very well, selling hundreds in Camden Lock Market alone – nearest hipster sales pitch to Hackney at the time…. Broadway Market was too broken down even for my T-shirts at the time. My best selling T-shirt of all time too! Almost a design classic!

  3. Anything with Hackney or Brixton on seems to develop a bit of chic.

    I visited Milan in 2005 and you were tripping over football style t shirts that said “Brixton FC” on them, whist my ex-girlfriend got a Hackney hooded top that summer, I think in Primark?

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