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Over seven years ago, in a world that seemed brighter than at this time — despite the fact that the Tories have been in energy, and London was in the throes of a corporate and jingoistic makeover as the host of the 2012 Olympic Games — I started an absurdly formidable challenge that I soon dubbed ‘The State of London’, which concerned me biking around the London postal space (the 120 postcodes starting WC, EC, SE, SW, W, NW, N and E), with some further forays into the 13 Higher London postcodes beginning with two letters (e.g. CR for Croydon) that surround it.
For some cause, I wasn’t deterred by the fact that the London postal area covers 241 square miles, and although my ambition has in some methods paid off, in that, by September 2014, I had visited every of the 120 postcodes a minimum of once, I might be lying if I didn’t concede that my information of a lot of London — notably within the west, the north west and the north — remains shadowy to say the least.
That stated, my information of a larger part of London — radiating from my house in south east London — has develop into satisfyingly thorough. There’s barely a road in the whole of south east London that I’ve not visited, and, as well as, east London and south west London, the Metropolis, the West Finish, and elements of north, north west and west London have all turn out to be extraordinarily familiar to me.
Furthermore, in all these years spent as what a good friend, Simon Elmer, has referred to as “a cycling flâneur”, flatteringly comparing me to Eugene Atget (1857-1927), who spent the last 35 years of his life “document[ing] all of the architecture and street scenes of Paris before their disappearance to modernization”, I feel that I’ve additionally absorbed the town and internalised it as a sort of dwelling map, and as a kind of ethical barometer of its bloated change-makers and profiteers, and its many, many victims.
As with Atget — and therefore the comparability — I used to be decided from the start to chronicle what was being misplaced, as the town launched into an orgy of improvement, partly pushed by the Olympics, partly by the lazy corruption of Boris Johnson, throughout his dreadful eight years as London’s Mayor, and partly because, after the banker-led international financial crash of 2008, those same international criminals — their ponzi schemes and lawless profiteering from “credit default swaps” and sub-prime mortgages in ruins — seized on land and the event of eye-wateringly expensive developments as the final bastion out there to them for the sorts of income to which they assume they’re entitled, and which we the individuals — by way of our impotence, ignorance, apathy or work-induced fatigue — have been unable to stop.
Within the last seven years, after the Tories conveniently forgot about austerity when it got here to funding the Olympics, destroying a lot of the River Lea for the soulless Olympic Park and re-imagining Stratford itself in an even more soulless manner as some type type of hideous “new city”, the orgy of improvement has been largely unchecked. Worldwide funding corporations have been buying up big swathes of the capital, and have been allowed to build priapic towers of unaffordable housing virtually in all places, and cash-strapped councils — and Labour councils particularly — have gleefully embarked on an enormous programme of social cleansing, facilitating the demolition of council estates to feed the greed of personal builders, and in addition of housing associations.
In a surprisingly brief amount of time, these former suppliers of genuinely reasonably priced social housing, have, as an alternative, come to resemble personal developers (albeit as opaque public-private hybrids), building new developments that blend properties for market sale with rental properties which might be costlier to lease than those which were knocked down. Along the best way, social rents are carried out away with utterly, and no one involved in any facet of this housing racket has been inspired to even think about the notion that it will make better financial — and environmental — sense to refurbish estates wherever potential.
The outcomes — together with the injury brought on by a housing bubble that has been artificially maintained during the last 20 years — are painfully clear to see. London at the moment is an even more divided metropolis than it was seven years ago, when the chasm between the wealthy and the poor was already far too pronounced.
As home costs have escalated, owner-occupiers have turn into absurdly, immorally wealthy via doing nothing, whereas personal rents are out of control. And with the pool of housing at social rents shrinking all the time, and Tory benefit cuts hacking away at all manner of monetary help for abnormal staff pushed to breaking point by all this unfettered greed, homelessness has reached epidemic proportions, vast numbers of hard-working households are having to resort to meals banks just to outlive, and young individuals — those notably bearing the brunt of the disgusting greed of personal landlords — are both leaving the capital utterly, or build up a up to now largely restrained but probably volcanic resentment on the method during which they have, to be blunt, been utterly screwed by selfish Child Boomers and the dead-eyed sharks of the bloated personal rental market.
When individuals are paying two-thirds of their revenue on lease, as many individuals are, it’s clear that something has gone monstrously improper, however for the exploiters, morality has grow to be a quaint notion, as they tell themselves that they are entitled to make as a lot cash as potential from their “investments.” For a current evaluation of this, see the current Guardian article, ‘Poor tenants pay for landlords to live like kings. It doesn’t need to be this manner’ by George Monbiot, which provoked a vigorous debate once I posted it on Fb.
And so to the celebration of 800 days, which marks the period since I first started posting a photograph a day from my archives, which I started on Might 11, 2017, on the fifth anniversary of when the venture began — first on Fb, and then, some months later, on Twitter. In the early days of the undertaking, throughout a lull in activity referring to the primary matter of my work for the last 13 years, the jail at Guantánamo Bay, I had posted several dozen London photograph sets on Flickr, however when the prisoners seized back the narrative in February 2013, embarking on a prison-wide hunger strike that brought Guantánamo back into the headlines, I didn’t submit something publicly (besides a collection of protest photographs, additionally on Flickr), till Might 2017, when the notion of posting a photo a day occurred to me as a approach to get my work out to a hopefully appreciative audience.
In the event you’re new to ‘The State of London’, please take a look at the 800 days of photographs on Fb right here, the place, as you’ll see, I’m fascinated by many, many sides of this extraordinary city, and never just a few of its darker manifestations. When you’re along for the journey, I’m delighted to have you ever with me, and I will — I promise — ultimately begin taking a look at making an attempt to get an exhibition organized, and a guide revealed, as I’ve been promising for a while. In the event you might help out at all, please do get in contact.
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Andy Worthington is a contract investigative journalist, activist, writer, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and principal songwriter for the London-based band The 4 Fathers, whose music is obtainable by way of Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the newest photograph campaign here) and the profitable We Stand With Shaker marketing campaign of 2014-15, and the writer of The Guantánamo Information: The Tales of the 774 Detainees in America’s Unlawful Jail (click on on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He’s additionally the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary movie, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (obtainable on DVD right here — or right here for the US), and for his photograph challenge ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photograph a day from seven years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.
In 2017, Andy turned very concerned in housing issues. He is the narrator of a brand new documentary movie, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, concerning the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a music ‘Grenfell’, within the aftermath of the solely preventable hearth in June 2017 that killed over 70 individuals, and he additionally set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focus for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of group area in his residence borough in south east London. For 2 months, from August to October 2018, he was half of the occupation of the Previous Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to stop its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats subsequent door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Though the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the timber have been minimize down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he may also be discovered on Fb (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner listing, The Complete Guantánamo Information, the definitive Guantánamo habeas record, the complete army commissions listing, and the chronological record of all Andy’s articles.
Please additionally contemplate becoming a member of the Close Guantánamo marketing campaign, and, for those who respect Andy’s work, be happy to make a donation.