Now that weekends start a little earlier (Saturday kicked off at 4.30am – not that I’m complaining; if I’d known how little sleep you actually need to function I probably would have invented something quite significant before having a baby), it’s become necessary to build a scheduled family excursion into the day. Otherwise you just get sucked into a vortex of daytime television, hanging tiny little clothes over radiators and wiping tiny little bottoms, and it’s nice to have a change from Monday to Friday (just kidding, I only watch Medical Emergency and Emergency Bikers… and The Jeremy Kyle Show if I’m feeling masochistic). Basically, as long as it has caffeine we’re there.
Last Saturday we finally got around to visiting the Olympics site. Heaving. Tour groups, out-of-towners with notebooks of the day’s activities (‘Next we’re off to Hackney) and a few hungover blokes workshopping the night before, which made for nostalgic eavesdropping.
The Container Cafe does good coffee, cute little pies and things like bacon sandwiches, all very pleasant, and once you’ve done that you can look at the building site, which includes Zaha Hadid’s stadium and the Anish Kapoor tower.
It does all beg the question, though – is it worth it? So much money, materials, work, bulldozing etc for such a short period of time. So unsustainable. And I remember visiting the Manor Garden allotment, years ago, with a friend who had a plot there. It had been granted to the community by a private philanthropist almost 100 years ago. It was beautiful, like being out of the city altogether. But it was taken and bulldozed (think of the soil quality, after 100 years of planting…) to make a footpath for two weeks. You can read more about the allotments here, and see photos.
Somehow, when I think of the Olympics I will always think of that allotment. It takes time to make a place that special, and to wipe it out so carelessly, amid so much protest, seems short-sighted and disrespectful to the past. I’m thinking of this today because I finally finished Cloud Atlas, and the last pages talk about how ‘one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself…’
Later on, when I was walking through London Fields, I saw the first tour guide I have ever seen in Hackney, saying something along the lines of, ‘Now we’re going to Broadway Market, which as you’ll see is very different from Ridley Road Market…’ When Hackney is on the tourist map you know things are changing…