In de­fence of the Donut District

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - SOCIAL - Kirsty Blake Knox @KirstyBlakeKnox

My block’s been tak­ing a beat­ing. For the past six years, I have lived on Ge­orge’s Street in Dublin city cen­tre — four floors above the All Amer­i­can Laun­drette, op­po­site The Long Hall pub, and pushed up against an aban­doned out­let store that dou­bles up as a bus shel­ter.

Be­fore you ask — yes, it is small. I don’t have a kitchen, I have a kitch­enette, I don’t have a bal­cony, I have a bal­conette (aka a large win­dowsill).

My wardrobe is in the liv­ing room, and there’s no room for a ta­ble. Eat­ing is done ei­ther stand­ing up, or bal­anc­ing on the sofa.

It’s also ex­pen­sive, and the lack of stor­age means there are piles of folded clothes stacked ev­ery­where like ter­rycloth tow­ers.

Then, there’s the noise. All-Ire­land fi­nals and Pa­trick’s Day are the loud­est. Even when it’s quiet, it’s roar­ing.

Am­bu­lance sirens, bin trucks bleep­ing, and bel­liger­ent drunks shout­ing at each other have be­come my whale mu­sic.

But I love it. It’s a neat lit­tle bolt­hole over­look­ing chim­ney tops. Plus there’s some great peo­ple watch­ing — of­fer­ing vi­gnettes into other’s lives. It’s a bit like Rear Win­dow, only with­out the mur­ders.

My ap­pre­ci­a­tion of my apart­ment is height­ened at the mo­ment be­cause I am due to move out at the end of this month. As well as the flat, I’ll be leav­ing six years of mem­o­ries be­hind.

This may also ex­plain why I’ve be­come hy­per-de­fen­sive of my turf. When I moved in, this area was be­ing mar­keted as Dublin’s Cre­ative Quar­ter. Now, it’s bet­ter known as the cap­i­tal’s des­ig­nated Donut District.

I don’t mind that — I love pass­ing food fads. But strangely it seems to bother peo­ple who don’t live in this part of town.

In re­cent weeks, I have read wor­thy news­pa­per ar­ti­cles, as well as haughty blog posts and un­o­rig­i­nal tweets giv­ing out about the lack of orig­i­nal­ity on Ge­orge’s Street and in other in­ner-city quar­ters.

“It’s not what it used to be, Guv!” is the usual re­frain. For many, the most re­sound­ing cul­tural death knell for Ge­orge’s Street came with the open­ing of all-Amer­i­cana fast-food chain Five Guys. View from the bal­conette: Kirsty has be­come hy­per-de­fen­sive of her turf as she pre­pares to leave Ge­orge’s Street in Dublin af­ter six years.

“It’s so tacky now,” one of my col­leagues told me.

Why? Be­cause a burger joint had re­placed that bas­tion of high cul­ture and artis­tic wizardry: a Dunnes home­ware store?

When­ever I hear peo­ple giv­ing out about my block, I’m re­minded of that bit in Mean Girls when a young woman gives a heart­felt speech about the school re­turn­ing to hap­pier times. “I wish I could bake a cake filled with rain­bows and smiles, and we’d all eat it and be happy again,” she wails.

She’s in­ter­rupted when some­one shouts from the back of the hall, “she doesn’t even go here”. Com­plain­ing about the lack of de­cent pubs, and how my block is not what it used to be in the “rare auld times”? You don’t even go here, pal.

When you live in the city cen­tre, the side streets fil­ter­ing off your build­ing be­come an

ex­ten­sion of your liv­ing room. Lis­ten­ing to passers-by com­plain feels akin to guests com­ing over to your house for din­ner, and re­mark­ing on the bland­ness of your Ikea sofa.

Cities and times change, moods shifts, donuts come in and out of fash­ion. You spend six years liv­ing in an apart­ment and then — poof! — life takes an un­fore­seen turn and you’ve gotta go.

I’m only there for a few more weeks, and don’t want any­one else hat­ing on my block.

So here’s a re­minder of all the good things about it: the noise, the small dogs, the steps of Pow­er­scourt town­house wet with rain and cov­ered in flow­ers, the wed­dings and pro­pos­als, the preg­nant women in Five Guys, a man in a deer­stalker hat, tea, those pesky seag­ulls, un­even flag stones, red brick tur­rets, and aban­doned pint glasses perched on win­dow ledges.

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