Sacred Acres


When the Norman King William commissioned the Domesday book in 1086, the land that is now Stratford was a hotbed of distilling and timber milling.

But when I trod the industrial estates of Marshgate and Carpenter’s Road 900 years afterwards there were car part yards and chemical plants, fish processors and anonymous warehousing. The Olympic demolition gangs and their JCB pitbulls were poised to scrape the area’s history from Google street view. High blue fences were being nailed into place, forever screening off the neolithic byways for a rising corporate Disneyland of airport-white concrete.

The London writer Iain Sinclair in his book Ghost Milk finds the 2012 Olympics as a “landscape condemned to death,” a road map to the future, adding that “the scam of scams was always the Olympics: Berlin in 1936 to Beijing in 2008. Engines of regeneration. Orgies of lachrymose nationalism. War by other means. Warrior-athletes watched, from behind dark glasses, by men in suits and uniforms.”

These square kilometers are now brand havens, sacred acres, protected by Rapier surface-to-air missiles and walkie-talkie foot patrols.

Last week the film director Danny Boyle announced his Olympic £27m utopia for the 2012 opening ceremony. On July 27th, 80,000 inside London’s Colosseo plus 1bn worldwide are expected to watch his pastoral theatre called ‘Isles of Wonder’ (a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest) though it sounds more like a parody of a Cold War parade.

There will be a countryside of meadows, fields and rivers, with families taking picnics, a maypole on a village green and farmers tilling the soil. Real farmyard animals will graze in the countryside with a menagerie of 70 sheep, 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese, three sheepdogs.

Seeing as all natural wildlife has long been evicted by the Olympic Delivery Committee I imagine all this fauna arriving two-by-two from an ark resting on the Thames estuary mudflats.

I also expect angry Saxons waving their pitchforks at the electrified fence. They will be paying for these Games for decades but have failed to secure any tickets – a proper Norman-era protest under the LOCOG yoke and their CCTV cameras.

(See also Olympic-Land and Utopia)


4 Responses to “Sacred Acres”

  1. great post, Richard… I’m guessing you missed out on any tickets, too…

  2. Actually we did get some Martin but only very recently. But the resentment is still there for the same reasons! When I go there the waste is all to see. There’s a walkway bridge over Stratford High Street made of, I’m told of Siberian Cedar. Beautiful. Except it will be demolished without recycling by the company who built it. I’m sure they’re laughing all the way to the tip!

  3. That’s terrible. Hugh here is taking his father in law, who needs a wheelchair. The car park tickets only allow a certain time for getting to and from the stadium. Needless to say they haven’t factored in any times for people who can’t move quickly… and admitted as such when he rang. Piss up. Brewery.

  1. 1 (Olympic) Contact Sheets « England’s Pleasant Pastures

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