It’s April Fool’s Day…

It's April Fool's Day...

…so this must be a joke, right?

I have nothing against monumental arts projects. I just have something against monumental arts projects that look like nothing, represent nothing and look bloody ugly. Looking at this computerised rendition of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, “Hubble Bubble” or whatever, it looks like someone has taken the design of the Eiffel tower and a good dose of something chemical or herbal. Well either that or it is some secret alien homing beacon.

In fact I am doing to dub this design the Milliband Tower, in that Milliband sounds a bit like “Millennium” (a word intrinsically linked to failed London parchitectural projects) and is also the name of two Labour politicians that look and sound as though they have recently arrived from some dark, forbidding and methane-rich planet orbiting Promixa Centauri.

London's Eiffel Tower on Drugs: Erm, marvellous.
London's Eiffel Tower on Drugs: Erm, marvellous.

At least the majority of the sum for this monstrosity is being provided by Lakhsmi Mittal, whom I suppose does have a few pennies to spare. Let’s just hope that its creator Anish Kapoor is absolutely certain that it won’t topple over, particularly when encountering the sort of light wind that led to the wobbly Millennium Bridge being closed two days after its official opening for two years of reassessment and repair work.

Many of those who are motivating these grandiose schemes seem to believe that they will be there for eternity, and that London 2012 will somehow kickstart a new era for the suburbs of East London; I am of the view that such people are seriously deluded, and that we’ll just end up with a stadium that is far too large for the area and facilities that will soon became unused and ultimately abandoned.

Business leaders will no doubt buy into the idea in time for the Olympics, and much of this will be in good faith with a genuine hope of future investment; after all, during the build-up and the games themselves there will be plenty of effort to keep the place clean and the local ne’er do wells closely observed. After the last spectator has left the stadium however, efforts will need to be made to balance the books, and things will go in much the same way as they did in Athens as the purse strings are tightened.

When the propaganda wheels are in motion any turd can be polished to a mirror shine; the problem with East London is that it has a population that for the most part simply doesn’t care about its environment. Walk through any street, and you’ll see abandoned buildings covered in graffiti, litter flying about and streets that look more than Lahore or Lagos than what is supposed to be London, a first-world city.

If people cannot even keep their own back gardens and streets clean, how can they be expected to maintain and look after million-pound facilities they care little or nothing about? Can you see, for example, the Bangladeshi population of Tower Hamlets taking up swimming lessons? Can you see Somali youths enrolling to take part in gymnastics? Albania has never won an Olympic medal in its history – can you see the kids of all of those families that are now over here (yep, the ones who made up stories about being refugees from Kosovo) lining up to be Britain’s next sprint champion? No, I am not talking about 4x100m bag-snatching relay.

Given that Londoners in general appear to have this curious inability place litter accurately in a dustbin, I am visualising these facilities being abandoned, covered in “street art” and littered with urban detritus – and I am not just talking about local gangs. Well, local if you mean Mogadishu, Baghdad or Tiranë.

As for the Milliband Tower, it will almost certainly turn into one of the many white elephants we have seen public money being wasted on in the past two decades. The only future I can see is it being used as part of an outdoor set for the 2018 run of Doctor Who – perhaps as an abandoned and rusting momument to a dying planet.

Given that this story was first aired on the final day of March, in all seriousness I doubt that it’s an April Fool’s Day ruse. I am not sure about this story though:

Gordon Brown: ‘immigrants must honour British values’

Not “respect”, “follow” or even “tolerate”, but honour? Hmm. Something sounds very fishy to me.

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