Friday, June 15, 2007

UK groans and moans..

The BAE corruption scandal is appalling, and shows how grubby and corrupt the British Government can be when it comes to selling ordinance and planes to anyone with the shekels to buy. Defence Minister Des Browne is a glorified salesman whose remit is to trudge around the world and flog planes and missiles. As for milord Goldsmith..

Oh to live the life of Prince Bandar, with a lavishly kitted out UK75m plane permanently operationally-funded by BAE; with his 2000 acre estate in Oxfordshire, his Aspen ranch and jaunts to Honolulu and Rio and on and on - all for being piggy in the middle. Could anyone have all that for doing so little and remain balanced in the soul and at one with the world?

I hope the US enquiry brings the whole edifice down, and is the final 9-inch nail banged into Blair's political coffin.

If any of this took place in Nigeria, many non-Nigerians would sub-consciously think, 'stupid Nigerians, they just can't help themselves' - with all kinds of racist undertones. It's time the rotten sleazy arms-dealing core of the Blair regime is utterly exposed for the valueless sham that it is.

Away from politics - although London has tarted itself up hugely in the past 10 years, there are still zones of design horror in high-volume-footfall tourist places with must leave a bad taste in visitor's mouths. Here are two unbelievably bad places that need to be re-designed asap:

1.The passageway from Charing Cross station onto Hungerford Bridge (footbridge across the Thames that leads to Waterloo). A pissy, narrow, sulphur-lit vomit-coloured corridor of yuck. How can this 50 metre passage way have been so unloved for so long? What would it take to glassify/designify it? Its a disgusting spatial experience, contrasting sharply with the whole South Bank architecture awaiting the visitor (Hayward Gallery being the dishonourable exception).

2. Euston Station concourse. A 1970s relic that needs to be knocked down, or preferably blown up (in a controlled non-terrorist explosion of course). Everything about the place is drab and awful. There is nowhere to sit. The pub above the concourse is diabolical - fit only for people with a hole in their head where taste might once have resided. The food and drink options are somewhere beneath Blackpool pier in terms of down downmarket appeal - Harry Ramsdens fuckawful yuckshmuck grease-outs, again under a warm sulphur pool of sick-coloured lighting. There is wifi, but you have to pay 6quid per hour for the privilege. Its all on a par with that logo in terms of hideous embarassment factor. Compare and contrast with some of the great train stations of Europe (my fav being Atocha in Madrid, which is a bit like Kew Gardens with some trains nearby).

talking of wifi: why is London so crap at it? You'd imagine by now most cafe's would offer free access, just to keep the punters staying and drinking. This is the case in other UK cities (my cuz tells me most cafes in Manchester have free wifi) - but not in mean-ass mercenary London.

Ok moan over.


Richard Trillo 10:44 pm  

Jeremy, you're absolutely right about that passageway from Charing X – complete with mean slopes at the bottom of the walls so you can't even busk in there or hide from the cold. But I'm afraid it doesn't even clome *close* to the ghastly passage from the IMAX Cinema to the front steps of Waterloo station – a slanting, filthy, tunnel that everyone who walks through just wants to get out of as fast as possible.

There's just one redeeming feature, Sue Hubbard's *wonderful* poem etched along each wall and still miraculously there after I think about five years now. It's like a glorious fight back against all the shit side of London:

I am not afraid as I descend,
step by step, leaving behind the salt wind
blowing up the corrugated river,

the damp city streets, their sodium glare
of rush-hour headlights pitted with pearls of rain;
for my eyes still reflect the half remembered moon.

Already your face recedes beneath the station clock,
a damp smudge among the shadows
mirrored in the train's wet glass,

will you forget me? Steel tracks lead you out
past cranes and crematoria,
boat yards and bike sheds, ruby shards

of roman glass and wolf-bone mummified in mud,
the rows of curtained windows like eyelids
heavy with sleep, to the city's green edge.

Now I stop my ears with wax, hold fast
the memory of the song you once whispered in my ear.
Its echoes tangle like briars in my thick hair.

You turned to look.
Second fly past like birds.
My hands grow cold. I am ice and cloud.

This path unravels.
Deep in hidden rooms filled with dust
and sour night-breath the lost city is sleeping.

Above the hurt sky is weeping,
soaked nightingales have ceased to sing.
Dusk has come early. I am drowning in blue.

I dream of a green garden
where the sun feathers my face
like your once eager kiss.

Soon, soon I will climb
from this blackened earth
into the diffident light.

Richard Trillo 1:24 am  

It's called "Euridice". Beautiful, I think.

Olawunmi 11:58 am  

oga jeremy,

you touched two issues close to my heart. if the whole BAE mess had occured in our beloved country, they would have said, "business as usual" and castigated our people for being thieving degenerates (or much worse), but in this case all attempt was made to sweep the whole thing under the roof. ditto the cash for honours imbroglio and who knows what else?

and Euston station! what a nightmare!! in 5 years of travelling through that station, it has yet to win me over. that said, few of the more modern stations are much better. i thik they deliberately make those stations unfriendly places in order to discourage people from spending any more time there than necessary. heaven forbid you arrive early for your train and have a pleasant time awaiting your conveyance!!!

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