Bermondsey and the River Thames, June 2012, a set on Flickr.
This set of photos, recording elements of a journey I made by bike on June 28, 2012 from south east London to the West End and back, is the third set of photos of London that I’ve uploaded to my recently established Flickr account, based on my newly-discovered means of escape from the chains that tie me to my computer and my work as a freelance investigative journalist — cycling around London with a camera, recording whatever captures my attention: buildings old and new, the sky, the river, trees and parks, and street art.
I’m also drawn to signs of emptiness, untidiness and decay that stand in contrast to the shiny new corporate buildings and endless “luxury” housing developments that are still springing up as part of a rigged economy, and that stand in such marked contrast to the savage age of austerity to which London’s poorer citizens are being subjected.
On the populist front, this journey coincided with the Olympic rings having recently been placed on Tower Bridge, and views of The Shard, but the back streets of Bermondsey — and my return home via Deptford — held more surprises.
I’ll be uploading more photos soon, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy these glimpses of London — the corporate river, the relentless development, and the back streets that so far remain untouched by gentrification. My journeys are certainly helping to make me fit after too many years sitting and writing in — to be honest — a rather obsessive manner, but they are also allowing my eyes and my mind to wander, which, with the exercise, is obviously very good for me.
However, the undiminishing gap between the rich and the poor, which is visible everywhere, continues to enrage me and often to make me feel as though I am not quite awake and the city has become a strange and unsettling dream, a thinly-veiled dystopia, still with the semblance of normality, but one in which, on the one hand, obscene amounts of money continue to be conjured out of nowhere, more aggressively than ever before, and the display of wealth and the ongoing gentrification seems both relentless and remorseless, and, on the other, poorer areas decline, businesses fail, shops are permanently closed, and the cuts begin to drive people into abject poverty.
The lines between rich and poor seem to me to be starker than they have ever been in my lifetime, and yet, for reasons that are frankly alarming — selfishness, heartlessness, a sense of entitlement — the rich continue to be motivated solely by greed, while everyone else is too distracted, deluded, indifferent, ignorant or exhausted to care.
Whatever is coming our way, especially after the militarist, corporate Olympics moves on, removing the last “bread and circuses” distraction from the truth that we have a suicidal economy managed by idiots and thieves, the current situation simply doesn’t feel sustainable, and I fear some sort of unseen storm is coming, particular when warm sunny days like the one recorded here have passed by, and we face a troubling winter of discontent …
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Diana Murtaugh Coleman wrote:
Like the photos, and the spirit of the project.
Richard Osbourne wrote:
I really like this quote Andy – I think you’ve put your finger on a growing sense of unease that anyone with a heart / brain feels:
“Whatever is coming our way, especially after the militarist, corporate Olympics moves on, removing the last “bread and circuses” distraction from the truth that we have a suicidal economy managed by idiots and thieves, the current situation simply doesn’t feel sustainable, and I fear some sort of unseen storm is coming, particular when warm sunny days like the one recorded here have passed by, and we face a troubling winter of discontent …”
Loyad Grove wrote:
SO VERY SAD INDEED MY FRIEND,,, THE RICH PEOPLE ARE RAPING THE POOR PEOPLE … Just Maybe >$.?.$<
Thanks, Diana, Richard and Loyad. Glad you liked my portent of doom, Richard. It came out of a conversation with a musician friend, Roger, last week. Not that you’d know anything about the if you’d just cycled around Canary Wharf, as I just did tis afternoon, prior to cycling alongside the River Lea to the Olympic Park. Photos soon!
Jennah Solace wrote:
I am really loving all the pics – it’s really interesting to see the world through your eyes.
Great, Jennah! I’m very glad to hear it. I’m hoping that other people are not being put off. I haven’t had any negative responses yet …!
andy this is happening everywhere there seems to be such a spirit of nastyness and cruelty by the rich i mean were i live acton on one side million pound houses the other homeless everywere litteraly everywere go to fulham and you will see the worst nastyest tories ever ever,but its all over the country i just left hastings ,e sussex the place is dying there aint even a job boxing tins of beans people are desperate and fleeing esp the young the tories are now dumping people down there again[benefit cuts people]into an already deprived area and yet you have areas down there of extreem wealth with second homes and boutiqe nonsence shops populated by the snydie sneering midleclasses and at the same time people picking fag buts up of the floor just like in london .
Thanks, Damo. As usual, you have a way with words. Perfect description of Hastings – and many, many other places as well. I remember first hearing years ago that Lambeth, and presumably other boroughs, were sending homeless people to Hastings, which was my first insight into the widespread outsourcing of homelessness to coastal towns. At the time I thought it was ghettoisation – which it obviously is, and a dead-end for many of those banished by London boroughs, who didn’t have enough property to fulfil their statutory obligations to the homeless – and of course ghettoisation is one of this government’s primary aims. Perhaps they will be so stupid that they’ll price all the working people out of London, leaving literally no one left to clean up after them and wipe their arses. More probably they’re thinking about how to compel the poor into “service” and reintroduce workhouses …
andy the poor who are being cleansed out of london yeah nice one boris are being dumped down there left to the mercy of shyster freemason [yes there are 2 masonic lodges]landlords and crock lettings agencys ive lived there most of the places you wouldnt keep a pig in let alone a dog..its the end of the line there are litteraly …no jobs period just drugs depretion and booze everybody is fleeing
Thanks again, Damo. The answer, of course, is a huge program of not-for-profit housing, run by people who aren’t exploitative scumbags, which would create work and also hugely reduce the housing benefit bill. A government that actually put jobs before anything else would help enormously too. And there goes a pig, flying past my window …
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