Rivers at Dusk: My Journey from Stratford to Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.
This eighth set of my photos of London, on the Flickr account that I set up last month, is part of my ongoing mission to travel the whole of London by bike, taking photos of everything that appeals to me — from the famous to the obscure, the rich, the poor, the natural and the man-made — and is the third and final part of a journey I undertook on July 5, 2012, first of all touring the bankers’ towers and the former docks of Canary Wharf, which I published as The Power of Greed: Photos of Canary Wharf, and then cycling the Lea Valley Walk — along the Limehouse Cut and the River Lea — to Stratford, for a glimpse of the Olympic Park, which I published as In Search of the Olympics: Photos of a Journey from Limehouse to Stratford.
After the alarm of the Olympic experience — far too much building work, and palpable paranoia, or, at least, the presence of a handful of zealous security jobsworths — it was refreshing to get lost in the backwaters of Three Mills Island, just a stone’s throw from the Olympic Park, and then to be beside the River Lea as the sun began slowly to set and to paint the trees and the river in a warm light that had been missing from a day in which the weather oscillated between sharp sunlight and the swift emergence of dark clouds filled with showers.
I also discovered, as I often do on journeys anywhere in London, that the towers of Canary Wharf are inescapable, whether viewed from Stratford, or close up on my return, burnished in the evening sun. My relationship with One Canada Square and its proliferation of more recent neighbours is not one of love, or even of affection, as I regard the architecture of 21st century greed as suspiciously as I regard the egotistical overreach visible in the palaces and civic works of dictators throughout history, but it brings out in me a kind of appalled fascination — one that then sends me off in search of decay, of the small-scale, or of nature that is not susceptible to the whims of the rich and the super-rich.
Coming up next will be photos from a journey I took to the east, along the River Thames from Greenwich to Thamesmead and back, just a few days ago, but for now, relax, get your preferred early evening drink, and journey with me down the River Lea.
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, Flickr (my photos) 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, George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I just shared this. Some of my readers will enjoy the photos. My thoughts about London’s development agree with yours.
Thanks, George. What these photos can’t capture is the anarchic delight of being able to roam freely on a bike, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to capture London as it is right now – with its largely stolen wealth and its largely unmentioned poverty, and the power and resilience of nature. The Thames, after all, was here first, and after the rain we’ve been having – related, it seems, to the possibly permanent diversion of the jetstream – everything that is green and growing has been thriving with an abundance that drier weather would not have delivered so thoroughly. I could imagine much of this speculative building work being overgrown in a matter of months given the opportunity …
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I’d like to bike around almost anywhere. I lived in London in the Summer of 71 (7 Nevern Sq), loved it, and visited friends there many times. I stopped in 81, when the appearance of the first ‘wine bars’ gave me a taste of what was to come. That might sound dogmatic and excessive, but I had strong feelings about that at that time. I hope to return though, when I am feeling better.
Imran Ahmed wrote:
Nice to see this other side to you , keep it up !
Thanks, Imran. That’s good to hear. And thanks again, George. I hope to see you here one of these days. Funnily enough, I also understand your bad feeling about the advent of wine bars. They were certainly one of the many disturbing signifiers of social change in the 1980s …
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