I just have time to throw out a quick reminder that tomorrow, Tuesday June 11, there’s a Carnival Against Capitalism taking place in London’s West End, beginning at 12 noon, at the start of a week of action against the G8, which takes place on June 17-18 in Northern Ireland. There are two suggested meeting points — one at Oxford Circus and one at Piccadilly Circus — and this is what Milena Olwan, a social worker, told the Guardian about the protests against the G8, echoing what many people think, as politicians meet, who, at best, are deluded, and at worst, like the Tories, are revelling in the opportunity to impose savage austerity cuts on the most vulnerable members of society.
“The G8 are anti-democratic, unaccountable, and they represent an extinct world order,” she said, adding, They embody the old ways of protectionism, imperialism and greed … [W]e will show them that ordinary people coming together taking action can forge alternatives that do not destroy lives but create a life beyond capitalism.”
This is how the organisers describe the Carnival Against Capitalism:
This action will only be as effective as the people participating in it. We have not negotiated with the police and we will not be controlled. If we look after each other, stay mobile, don’t get caught in kettles and are ready to make quick decisions about what to do next we can make the most of the day. Read the rest of this entry »
While Tyrants Sleep: Canary Wharf at Night, a set on Flickr.
On November 14, 2012, as I explained in my previous photo set, “Curious Insomnia: A Journey through Deptford and Millwall to Canary Wharf at Night,” I decided, at 1am, to cycle from my home in Brockley, in south east London, down through Deptford and Greenwich, and through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the Isle of Dogs, where I cycled through Millwall, via the former docks and South Quay Plaza (and the DLR station) to Canary Wharf, the multi-towered financial centre and underground shopping complex that has been sucking the lifeblood out of the rest of London since it overcame its early wobbles under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and became a magnet for dodgy unregulated bankers and obsessive materialists during the reign of Tony Blair.
It is, in fact, a place which, as Owen Hatherley explained in an excellent article for the Guardian last year (which I also drew on here), is responsible for “the most spectacular expression of London’s transformation into a city with levels of inequality that previous generations liked to think they’d fought a war to eliminate.” Read the rest of this entry »
At 1 am on November 14, 2012, I decided to take a late night bike ride to Canary Wharf, the modern mutant offspring of the City of London. The City is an ancient lawless zone, but it is now rivalled by the lawlessness of the Docklands project initiated under Margaret Thatcher, which expanded hugely under Tony Blair.
Canary Wharf, which I first photographed here, fascinates and repels me. Its towers, with their horribly ostentatious show of wealth, and their disdain for even vaguely concealing how much money can be made through devious behaviour that ought to be illegal — and in many cases is — are visible from almost everywhere, and are particularly dominant from all over south east London, where I live. However, while the buildings are, in some ways, architecturally impressive, that is not all that calls out across the miles when One Canada Square and its phallic companions are glimpsed from afar. The wealth they display is also meant to intimidate and/or dazzle those mere mortals — the majority of us, in other words — who earn in a lifetime what well-paid bankers take home in a year.
I’ll be analysing Canary Wharf further in the article following this one, which features the photos I took in the heart of Canary Wharf. In contrast, this set features the start of my journey, through Deptford and Greenwich, including Deptford High Street, which stands in total contrast to the wealth and rarefied shopping malls of Canary Wharf (which I photographed here). I then cycled through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and took photos in Millwall, and also of Millwall Inner Dock, South Quay DLR station and the mainly residential developments around them, including the Pan Peninsula towers, luxury high-rises that deliberately scorn the ordinary humans below, with their promotional material celebrating those who “inhabit a private universe.”
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, 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.
Poplar Dock, Canary Wharf and Greenwich on the Eve of the Olympics, a set on Flickr.
This photo set is the 82nd in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, and is the last of five sets taken on July 25 last year, a wonderful sunny day two days before the Olympic Games began, when I cycled east from Whitechapel along the A11 — Mile End Road, which becomes Bow Road and crosses the A12 on the way to the Olympic Park along Stratford High Street. I then cycled around the perimeter of the Olympic Park, up to Leyton on the eastern side, then along the A12 at the north, and then back south via Hackney Wick and Old Ford on the east, then through Bow, Bromley-by-Bow, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs, stopping in on Greenwich before returning home to Brockley.
The first two sets recording this journey were “Adventures in History: The Mile End Road,” and “From Mile End to Bow and Stratford on a Summer’s Day,” canned the third set — “The Olympics Minus One Day: Photos from the Frontline in Stratford” (and see here too) — was published last July, to capture some of the Olympic fervour at the time — even though I was extremely cynical about the outrageous and unaudited cost of the Olympics and the hideous patriotism milked by the government to deflect attention from its own evil heart, and even though I almost always prefer the fruits of cooperation to the chest-thumping Darwinism of competitive sport. Read the rest of this entry »
Memories of Summer: The Thames Festival on London’s South Bank, a set on Flickr.
Sunday September 9, 2012 was the final day of the weekend-long Thames Festival, established in 1997, and run by the Thames Festival Trust, which regularly attracts tens of thousands of visitors, and did so again this year, even though it was the last day of the Paralympic Games, and had been a summer so saturated with cultural events that it was possible to have thought beforehand that cultural saturation might well have set in.
Instead, the banks of the River Thames were packed, and nowhere more so than along the action-packed shoreline that stretches from Butlers Wharf in the east to Westminster Bridge in the west, via Tower Bridge, City Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, Gabriels Wharf, the South Bank Centre, the London Eye, and the cluster of largely unappealing corporate attractions in the former County Hall. Read the rest of this entry »
Blue Skies and Golden Light: The River Thames in September, a set on Flickr.
After my recent five-part series of photo sets from south east London — my home turf — in November, I promised to publish some photos from September, from the huge archive of photos I’ve been building up over the last five months, as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, and also to publish photos from further afield in London.
In the first of five previously unpublished sets from September (and the 66th set overall in my London photo project) the photos here are from a journey I made by bike on September 6, a gloriously sunny day, when I took my son Tyler and his friend Louis to the South Bank and back, travelling there via Greenwich Foot Tunnel and the Isle of Dogs, and returning via Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, a great circular tour of the River Thames to the east of central London, which involves two of my very favourite journeys in the whole of London. Read the rest of this entry »
Shops, Ships and Union Jacks: A Surreal Tour Around Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.
This photo set — the 60th in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — is the last in a series of five sets recording a journey I made one sunny day in July, from my home in south London, through New Cross and Bermondsey by bike, across Tower Bridge, and up through Shadwell to Commercial Road, which I followed — with many fruitful deviations — along its whole length, to the junction where West India Road bears off towards Canary Wharf, and Commercial Road becomes East India Road.
As my camera battery had run out, but I couldn’t bear not having a working camera, I decided to find one in Canary Wharf, which was more difficult than I expected, as the shop I needed was some distance from where I parked my bike, through a series of shopping malls whose scale surprised me, as they now constitute another city entirely. Read the rest of this entry »
Development and Decay: Commercial Road in Stepney and Limehouse, a set on Flickr.
As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, this is the 59th photo set I have posted, and the last of three photo sets recording a journey I made along Commercial Road, in the East End, one hot and sunny day in July (see here and here). It was something of a revelation to me, as, although I know parts of the East End, I was largely unfamiliar with this area, and cycling the whole of the road from Aldgate to the junction near Canary Wharf, as well as making diversions into the back streets, helped bring to life this vibrant and historically fascinating part of town that I have since revisited on several occasions.
This whole part of the city — rather frayed around the edges, and with an uneasy mix of wealth and poverty, featuring the white working class and Asian immigrants on the one hand, and bankers on the other — is primarily subject to drastic changes because of its proximity to the City and Canary Wharf, and is, in a very real sense, up against the full force of international money, with developers intent on exploiting any land they can get their hands on to build new housing aimed at foreign investors — a bubble of exploitation, with investors charged too much for properties that they, in turn, sell or rent for too much to London residents. Read the rest of this entry »
The River Thames: The Solace of the Shore and the Fire of Sunset, a set on Flickr.
This is the 54th photo set in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, capturing the second half of a journey I made with my son Tyler from Waterloo, back to our home in Brockley, in south east London, on Sunday October 14, 2012.
The first set is here, and it is also part of a series designed to capture glimpses of London in autumn (or fall, as my American friends describe it), which I began with photos of Halloween and of the turning leaves in Hilly Fields, my local park. Read the rest of this entry »
Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping: Art, History and the Summer Sun, a set on Flickr.
This is the 44th set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, and is the second set recording a journey I made, one sunny Sunday in July, with my wife and son from our home in south east London, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, up the western shore of the Isle of Dogs, which is infested with high-rise housing developments, and on to Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping. Here the great wharves that dealt with the imports of Britain’s global trade during the heyday of Empire, and of the London docks, were converted into apartments during the Docklands development programme in the 1980s and 1990s. The first set of photos is here.
Money doesn’t scream, the way it does in Canary Wharf, in the narrow strips of former wharves in Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping, although obviously most of the wharf living is aimed squarely at the rich, and elements of this are obvious — the matt grey Aston Martin that, for instance, almost ran me over at one point, driven by some young idiot who obviously believed the words of Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel: “Matte cars are cool, they come across as a bit aggressive.” Read the rest of this entry »
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