Thursday, April 03, 2003
When I Survey The Wond'rous Cross
They're cleaning up the Cross. King's Cross, that is, the dung-heap around the train station, home to rat-kebabs and crack-dens, knocking-shops and 24-hour Big Macs.
Currently, this bit of neo-apocalyptic Central London has just one thing going for it. That's the salmon-pink, mock-Gothic magnificence of Sir George Gilbert Scott's Saint Pancras Station and Midland Hotel. One of the most breath-taking bits of Victorian architecture you'll ever see, it lifts the soul, while your Nikes trundle through pavement detritus of syringes, Special Brew cans, and used condoms.
Otherwise, you can't move around here without being offered a "bit of brown", or, at the very least, a quick hand-job round the corner. I can handle the King's Cross winos and the dealer-junkies, but it’s the smacked-out, grey-skinned teenage tarts who get to me. (Sadly, not out of any sympathy for their predicament. It's their gob-smackingly awful, crack-addled misconception that I might just be that desperate for a syphilitic shag.)
But all this is changing. For we're going Up-Market, darlings, in a much-needed "regeneration boost" for "London's exciting and vibrant new quarter". (It must be true, it says so here.) Oh yes, we're in for a fair bit of Urban Renewal round these parts. Spacious loft-style living for execs, and gated estates to keep out the riff-raff who can't afford to live here any more anyway. Kicking the whores and the druggies out of the way and up the road, rather than sorting the root problems. Sushi bars, staffed by gossiping Japanese fashion-students, doing Europe on the parents' money. Bored-with-Hoxton trendies with funny haircuts slumming it and opening up their coprorate-sponsored performance spaces.
And Starbucks! Starbucks! And, oh yes, yet another Starbucks! Please, we really cannot have enough Starbucks! Can we! It's just too exciting for words!
Of course, it'll be a runaway success. And if you need any proof: well, the Metro-Queens have already sashayed in. The first "exciting and vibrant new" business to open here in soon-to-be-really-nice King's Cross is this particular shop. I find it ironic - and also strangely satisfying - that the first major retail concern in the newly-sanitised King's Cross should be an upmarket gay sex store (conveniently located just a stone's throw from a downmarket gay cinema and a down-on-your-knees gay slut hut).
Pushing itself as "a new & unique shopping experience for the gay and lesbian community", Prowler prides itself on "its welcoming entrance", as well as its "wonderful glass atrium", and its location in an "ornate and spacious Victorian building". (It's a clapped-out, run-down terrace at the butt-end of the Cally Road, for God's sake!)
C'mon, my loves, in the end what you're really selling is poppers, porn and things to put up your bottom, isn't it?
Some things, and especially some things in King's Cross, never change.