The Importance of Play

I will take you to deepest darkest Africa, but never to London’s East

So I heard this quote said by a tour guide as she passed with khaki short and sandal clad tourists following her around my house.

I have no idea who said this, or even if it were ever actually said. I guessed from the little I heard that it was said to Prince Albert when he heard about the extreme poverty here in the 1800s and wanted to visit.

I live down the road from the first council housing built in London. Built because half the children weren’t reaching 5 years of age.

Today it is one of the trendiest parts of London.

I live in Shoreditch. I live on the hipster street in hipsterville. I sleep on the floor of a shopfront wearing my vintage clothes and reading classics with my moleskines whilst having locally roasted coffee.

I call myself a ‘creative’ and work in a hipster bar at nights to pay rent.

I came home the other week and my house suddenly looked like this.

graffiti shoreditch

And, considering how ugly it was and the expected quality of Shoreditch street art, we got together and painted it.

shoreditch graffiti

shoreditch graffiti 2

It felt like being kids again and naughtily painting on bedroom walls.

So I photographed it and Instagramed it…

Then we went and had a picnic in Hyde Park.

Snapshot - 12

And later we sat outside my little hipster flat and decided it would be funny to make a jug of Pimms and drink it out of really, really tiny teacups.

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I’m now sharing all this with you because I “blog”.

But what is behind the “hipster” movement?

Dressing like this:

hipster tumblr

Taking photos of people doing this:

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Roll your eyes at the seemingly self absorbed, disinterested, oh-too-cool attitudes.

Sigh at the hairdos, the fake glasses, the time wasted on vintage shopping and ask them why they feel like it is worth their time to make a black and white film with a 1930s camera that will never make money or be seen  by many.

Why don’t they get proper, vocational degrees? What the hell is a degree in ‘communications, social art and expressionism?”

Consider them a group of individuals that simply refuse to grow up.

They dress like 5 year olds. (We do… )

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And then maybe consider what this attitude is telling us.

If one thinks of their happiest memories, the reason we have nostalgia – childhoods are wonderful places. Peter Pan.

And then we “grow up” and “get serious”.

Our “playtime” gets reduced to strange hours in pubs where everyone kind of wants to jump around and be silly, but needs the influence of alcohol to make it seem socially acceptable.

Our current lifestyle does work for the most part, but is also full of overworked, stressed, tired, depressed, sick, burnt out employers and employees.

Grumble at the idea of this “new” and “irresponsible” generation that is wanting to work longer days, but only 4 a week. Or that want to change jobs every few years.

And then consider that maybe it is something important.

Maybe general creativity and playfulness is something that has been missing in the normal workplace.

And maybe we shouldn’t simply dismiss these ideas, but rather sit down and start discussing their credibilities.

Maybe we should consider the importance of play.

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