A postcapitalist Canary Wharf…
Paul Mason
231

A poem I wrote in 1978, actually before Thatcher swept in and seemed quite prescient at the time.

In this
New Map of
BRITAIN
glitter
has priority,

In shining indifference
to
blighted lives
and
Burned-out streets

Preplanned
prefabricated,
and
Vengeful
Like a cosmic rifle sight,

This
Man-made Milky Way
Built to fight
Yesterday’s small world

serves a purpose

To Illuminate
Sun-gilded poverty
All eyes and appetite,
Like
flame and moth

Despite the Indian name my Dad gave me, I have an english working class mother. She was brought up in nearby Deptford with her dad and later some of her brothers working in the docks on Surrey Creek and the Royal Victoria on the Isle of Dogs. Even in the 60’s, they all knew the docks were doomed; they were militant and racist and I hated the lot of them. My uncle Jim even had the gall to spout off about the NF in front of us all over tea and biscuits. When Thatcher swept it all away and initiated that building boom in Docklands in the 80’s, the working class Conservatives who had voted her in ( my family included) and filled the old East End never really appreciated who the real enemy was. They couldn’t see past the glamour and glitter even in Blairs time. So we got Canary Wharf ( and boy it was a Woof not a tweet). It was a vision of the future if only the locals knew it-private, hedged in by anonymous roads with poor access to the river and UGLY. The whole area including the O2 area is a mess of private capital strutting its stuff and now ironically only truly visible from the newly built, overpriced vanity project, the Emirates cable car. Note the T&C’s imposed on the project-explicitly no criticism of the UAE Royal Family or government nor any Israeli money.

Now the only thing that threatens Canary wharf is the drifting centre of capital and the possible flight of neighbour HSBC in a fit of pique. Sadly I think it will be a long time before Londoners can regain power over those windswept spaces unless JG Ballard decides to run for Mayor.

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