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Having just returned from Michael Rosen’s Hackney Streets, a postmodern milieu of Hackney life past and present, it was good to see that at least Hackney theatres are permissible forums for expressed concerns about the Olympic plans. This statement is of course in light of Sinclairgate last month.
Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, has said about the Council’s embargo against Iain Sinclair at a recent library reading that the decision was taken because of his “recently published, largely negative comments about regeneration in the borough”. He goes on to say that “the Council welcomes public discussion on such matters”.
He is not interested in creating a forum for public debate, as evidenced by this knee-jerk reaction to what was perceived as a threat to the public image of regeneration in the host borough, despite the Council’s full understanding that Sinclair was there to promote, and only to promote, his non-partisan book about Hackney’s past.
Pipe likes to dismiss writers such as Sinclair and Rosen as part of a “keep Hackney crap mentality” to make it easier to ignore them.
Hackney Streets was not a scathing or bitter diatribe, it was a provocative piece that speaks about Olympic regeneration in a wholly non-confrontational manner, yet undoubtedly it is a piece that would have been vetoed and vetted, or most likely blacklisted altogether had it been on Council property.
“The Dalston regeneration- a dream of childless towers, of weekday workers, where there is no need for swings or slides”, Hackney Streets’ actors proclaim. It suggests a histrionic transformation of a once culturally and socially diverse area into a homogenous metropolis for City workers and childless couples.
The play, and much of my research on Olympic regeneration has left me thinking- in four years’ time what will we have then? When the journalists and athletes are gone what will be left for us?
It seems challenging the Olympics and how it is set to affect us as London residents is not a popular, fashionable or apparently acceptable thing to do. The Olympics has essentially become a project that’s scale and magnitude is well beyond our country’s means and the rationale for investing so much money is a thinly veiled excuse of regeneration for all.
But what will the Olympics really mean for you?