Possibly the last people I would hire to restore a damaged property. Damaging a restored property: now that might be a better business model for them.
I found this graffiti scrawled on a wall at waist height. Vandals are starting young these days.
Oh the japes and trickeries these fork-lift truck drivers get up to…
I found this on a wall in an alley near Chiswick high road:
It was bizarre but someone either was bored waiting for someone, or thought that the leaf was pretty. I like to think it was the latter.
Then walked round the corner and saw this:
I think street drinking is fucking sad. This young guy had his arse out and his tracksuit trousers were soaked. These guys are often hanging out on the corner pissing their precious time away. By the way, what was his friend thinking/saying/doing while his mate was clearly having a minor bodily collapse next to him?
In Britain, we love to mine the rich seam of humour of alcohol-associated humiliation. And my first thought was how the scene reminded me of 8-Ace from Viz, the perennial figure of drinking-excess fun. But I was struck by what a terribly sad sight it was, seeing someone degraded so low. That guy was once a baby in his mothers arms, now he is slumped bare-arsed on the cold pavement doused in his own waste.
I cannot help being reminded of when I was in Mauritius, where there is a notorious drinking problem amongst the locals. One day we drove through a suburb of Grand Baie. We saw a guy pissed off his nut slouched against a wall in the full burning sunlight (it was regularly around 40 degrees C). He probably died of sunstroke.
It is so easy not to care about street-drinkers, because they do it to themselves and when they are abusive and covered in vomit- well they are hardly Andrex puppies, are they? Hmmm. I still feel uneasy about taking that view though…
I have been waiting for Obama to win with bated breath for a long time now. I am not alone, of course. But now he is finally there, I have only just realised how deeply the last eight years has affected me (and the rest of the world).
Since the election of GW Bush, we have been living in a world where the strings were being pulled by a bunch of mediaeval despots. The victories of social conservatives in 2000 and 2004 really got the millennium off to a bad start. They talked about creationism, theistic anti-abortionism, intolerance of homosexuality, and a distrust of foreign cultures, un-American ideas, and intelligent thinking as though these were not only acceptable but righteous views to hold in the modern era. And they wanted to proselytise, to ram the neo-con ideology down our throats and burn the brown skinned infidels who could never be brought to salvation. In the new millenium, we were going back to a dark age, if not darker than any before.
The regression to pre-enlightenment culture was something I feared I was going to have to witness in my own lifetime. All round the world people felt that the US was burning with the dark fire of self-interest, of self-righteous ignorance not seen since the crusades. Wars were brewing up everywhere, the world was collapsing into an economic cess-pit, democracy was failing.
And then last night America elected Obama.
I was just writing in the past tense, which is not really accurate. We are still afflicted with the same global sickness. But I feel that I wanted to use the past tense for a reason. I have realised this morning just how much the nastiness across the Atlantic has set me under a foreboding cloud for the last eight years. I could only see it all as part of a general downward trend in human history. Last night represents a rejection of neo-conservatism, of prejudice, of holy wars and division by the most culturally and politically influential country in the world. I am not saying those forces are gone: they are still there and surely will be back to fight their disgusting cause again. But a vital battle against them has been won.
Now I feel that the US, the world and every one of us has woken to a new morning and a chance to shake off the depressing fug of the last decade. People will begin to trust the US more, slowly but surely. We can see this change in American politics as a second chance to start the new century against a better backdrop (and is not often you get a second chance at things).
And today I certainly feel better deep down than I have in years.
So the biggest shopping centre in Europe has opened on the doorstep of many a bemused West Londoner. We all knew it was coming. I loved the cranes hovering over the building site for so many years. But nothing could have prepared me for the epic scale of the place when I visited in the flesh today. It is vast. It is opulent. It is bizarre.
It is also heaving with just about everyone. And that is perhaps the most bizarre thing about it. Surely we are in the onslaught of an economic collapse? Not according to this lot:
The Westfield has a lot which commends it to shoppers. It has every sort of shop from a Valentino boutique to a Halifax; it is bright and airy; the shops all have very high ceiling heights which really make it feel quite spacious and less claustrophobic; there is an endless choice of places to eat; all in all it is likely to make good on the centre’s backers’ hopes that Westfield will be the most impressive shopping location in Europe.
But it is so surreally indulgent, so staggeringly vast that it must be a grand experiment to see what happens when you give consumers everything they want. And those consumers were certainly biting off all they could chew. A momentum of buying ran through the mob. You could sense in them the thrill of the purchase (taking the place of the thrill of the hunt in the modern world).
But this is not the future. This gargantuan shopper’s heaven is a monument to the economic mindset of yesteryear. It was conceived, planned, and constructed during the boom years when everyone seemed to believe they could have everything for nothing, that they could borrow five times their salary to buy a house and get some spending money on top, that they could mortgage their houses and spend the money on luxuries intending to pay it off as house prices rose higher; credit card and debt consolidation companies alike did a roaring trade; the bankers laid down stomach-churning bets on the international casino with money they did not think about eventually having to repay; people massed up enormous debts on snowballing 0% a.p.r. credit card transfers; building societies joined the mortgage rush and Gordon Brown borrowed as much as he possibly could either a. to make public services look well funded or b. to put the British economy in a desperately weak position.
The recessional momentum has not caught up with us yet. We are not feeling the pinch properly even though we know it is coming. And in a few months time when the dark times have started to set in, what will come of the Westfield centre? Will it be deserted or will credit cards flash out of wallets and shine forth upon those crowded malls? Will we have built Jerusellem in the Shepherd’s dark Satanic bush?
Maybe it won’t look like such a good investment then. Who knows? From the sheer bloody-minded faith in credit-fuelled consumption on display at Westfield today, maybe the British public will spend its way out of recession. Hmmm.
A lot of the locals would be happy to see the whole place fall into a great chasm. At least the view would be better than looking on to a big fat corporate wall. Look at that banner (H&F is the local council). You have to feel sorry for them…