How #Drummondpuddlewatch became a metaphor for gentrification

It was perhaps the most British viral phenomenon to date. On Wednesday, thousands of viewers were captivated by a internet live stream of a puddle in Newcastle.

Offering a fresh angle on the age old go-to conversation about weather, #DrummondPuddleWatch was to become the ultimate reality TV show, giving viewers all of the tough external and internal battles present on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! – without them having to endure Ant, Dec, or the cast of Coronation Street circa 1997.

Members of the public negotiated the task of walking past a puddle with all the gusto of an Apprentice candidate, without the need for catchphrases such as “I’m like a human stapler, I hold things together in a business environment.”

And fans of Tom Daley’s prime-time show ‘Splash!’ also couldn’t believe their luck. The expansive hole in their lives left by its cancellation was filled by a redux of its undeniably compelling format: people jumping into water.

With viewing figures that reached 20,000, almost double those of the new series of Celebrity Big Brother, it was no suprise that Channel 5 were rumoured to be seeking to buy rights for the stream.

But the success to be short lived. Like Shoreditch in the 90s, Berlin in the noughties, or Margate in 2015, #Drummondpuddlewatch was to become a victim of its own popularity. As the would-be stars of Geordie Shore caught wind of Twitter’s hottest trend, they rushed to the puddle, desperate to be seen on screen and have their 15 minutes of fame.

Viewers started to notice the cyclists zipping through the puddle were now riding vintage fixies. Bearded men in checked shirts were spotted contructing a pop-up cereal cafe nearby, while others collected samples of the puddle to use in a new brand of craft beer.

As Vice magazine announced plans for a new Drummond-based headquarters, the rich oligachs of Russia and Dubai rushed to buy up property in the new centre of cool. Rent prices rose rapidly, and locals were forced to abandon their life-long homes and head for the cheap, desolate and depressing suburbs of Wallsend, Longbenton, and Newcastle Upon Tyne.

And just like that, everything that made #Drummondpuddlewatch so unique and captivating had gone forever. For its new residents, businesses and tourists of cool, the puddle will no doubt live on as an overpriced and sanitised ghost of its former glory. But for the rest of us, as we stare at our screens from flats in an area a mere eight miles from where we would actually like to be living, it will serve only to remind us of the growing virus of gentrification.

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