Sunday, 20 May 2012

Made out of paper

Walking down Redchurch St, which by the way, is one of my favourites in the Shoreditch area, I found, close to a small gallery, probably in the corner with Ebor St, a pile of past issues of Our Bare Bones magazines, one of those independent and free papers / magazines that tend to have quite a good creative content.

For some reason, this issue really impressed me with quite a few of its pages.

One of the images showed a green landscape, with a snowed mountain, and the back of a person with a yellow t-shirt writing in the back: 'F*ck Ooooff'. Yes, five O's intertwined. It is probably one of the simplest ways of telling someone to F*ck off, but it was the fact that the O's from the phase were represented giving shape the Olympic Rings what made me understand it. Probably I am terribly wrong or the author did not intended it that way, but to me, it clearly showed a feeling of rejection towards the Games. The chaos, the hypocrisy, unfairness and all sorts that are involved on the negative side of the Olympics. Almost instantly, I thought about how the Mayor of London is heavily suggesting commuters to walk their way to work and avoid at all costs using the public transport to avoid overcrowding. In return, the feeling of rejection towards the system arises from the surface and momentaneously we all hate the idea of suffering them in Summer. And I loved it.

The next page that caught my attention was a two-page spread with bold, capital monochrome letters saying: LIFE'S A BEACH. SOME GET BURNT. Designed by Ross McDonald Russell Weekes, I am not sure if it was my lack of sun, and the fact that it was one of those days not necessarily joyful, that made me think that this was a very bold statement and again, I loved it. 

Continuing turning the pages, I came across Harry Malt's drawings. In these times of rejection towards the system and corporations, and times of going back to 'buy local' and support the community, his drawings really showed how Tesco could one day fully conquer the World. The worse thing is that, even though it made me laugh, it is sadly close to being true. 

However, the master piece in my opinion was the following article titled BANK in bold blackboard chalk style, black characters and text in Times New Roman, in two columns. A two-article written by Michael Smith, describing London's famous City distric, the financial core of the Country and a probably a big chunk of the World. I enjoyed every word of it. On the opposite side of the paper, there was a drawing from Stef from Reiswitz, that somehow perfectly reflected Michael's words, showing again, a monochrome London, cluttered with all the landmarks of the city, as described by him. Perfect combination. I cut it out and posted on my wall.

Bank, by Michael Smith
My bank is dwarfed by the towering financial edifices of the City of London, squeezed inbetween Lloyds, the Bank of England and the Stock Exchange. It is a tiny socialist bank with hardly any branches. It is the only bank that would have me. I am not allowed an overdraft and can only take out £200 a day by card; my landlady wants cash only (shady), so I have to go to my bank and get her rent out by hand. The conspiracy of circumstances relegating me to the outer wastes of the financial universe also compels me to wander into the singularity at its centre on the 19th day of every month.
It’s only a 30 minute walk from my council flat to the crucible of free market capitalism; I walk out of the security door of the concrete block, past the litter and the grubby window which is always open to the maddening sound of the man playing the noisy grand prix computer game every day instead of going to work.
Down Pitfeild Street, past a Georgian church and 1930s deco council blocks, a scruffy, pleasant, tree lined road with a local backwater feel; the off licence still has the giant hand-painted sign saying “CHEAP BOOZE” after all these years, stubbornly resisting the gentrification you notice more and more the further down you stroll, until you hit Old Street, a fashion catwalk that flows from the tube station to Hoxton Square: a gold lamé parade, kids with three haircuts at once, kids with no idea who they are. It’s laughable, this string of singular activity that acts as a border between local East End nowhereness and the heart of the financial universe. Old Street is like the subatomic srings described by nuclear physics: one dimensional, so to speak, a vector, vibrating with its particular frequency through the multi-dimensional space of the metropolis all around it.
This happens a lot in London, certain moods and energies thinly stretched out along one magnetic line of force – the gay street crosses over the members’ bar street in Soho, with hardly any interaction; Oxford St rushes by a block away, and may as well be in a different city.
Crossing Old St is passing through a membrane into an entirely different order. Breaching the edges of the Square Mile, heavy weather, gloomier forecasts, financial and meteorological; my head hurts, my sinuses ache, I worry about where the next paycheck will come from; a thousand financial isobars bear down on this square mile like the leaden anvil of cloud above it; the dead pressure bearing down on everything moulds the jowly physiognomy of these waxy faced, grey suited sea-bed inhabitants, catfish men of the mirky depths, choking in tight tie-collars; the only things missing are luminous storks off their foreheads, to light the way through the subterranean gloom…
Even the sound of the place – Lon Don – is a heavy, dull thud. Leadenhall, Castle Court, Pope’s Head Alley, the winding passages and ratruns round here induce the feeling of subterranean burrowing, the feeling of these ancient edifices bearing down on you, the feeling of being buried alive…
This is the singularity at the heart of the financial black hole, zero space and infinite gravity, space twisted up so tightly it bends back on itself, and even light can no longer escape this stormy London gloom.
Bank: only a city as mean and greedy as mine could call this black hole crush its centre. It’s taken me fifteen years of wandering past it to realise that’s even what it is; but on a map of the Square Mile you can see this fact at a glance – the eye of the storm is The Bank – all roads lead to it like the centre of a spiderweb.
A statue of Wellington on horseback stands at the centre of this crossroads – Wellington the guardian of our English liberties, of Anglo-Saxon free market capitalism; Lloyds, the Natwest Tower, the Gherkin, the full force of English capital clusters behind him, flanking and dwarfing him, the cumulative muscle of a nation of shopkeepers; the pediment on top of the columns of the Royal Exchange, like the grill of a Rolls-Royce, bears the inscription “The Earth Is The Lord’s, And The Fullness Thereof”. The Lord… I try to imagine what kind of a mad god could be the lord of this labyrinth: the eye in the dollar bill, the eye in the blinking pyramid of Canary Wharf downriver, the totem of some terrible and unseen hand…

But the funny thing about the story is that on the first read to the magazine, I was sitting down at Byron's terrace having lunch in Hoxton Square. The very friendly lady waitress, greeted us, and while jotting down our order, quickly asked me for the magazine as it clearly caught her attention. After giving her more information about where did I take it from and what was it about, she greedily looked at it, silently suggesting to give it to her as soon as I had read it. Again, funnily enough, I unconciously agreed to keep it for her after lunch. She finished her shift and ran away without saying anything. 

I kept the mag.

And my tea got cold after the second read.

But that's another story.  


  1. Ana, thanks for the mention. Life's a beach some get burnt is by Russell Weekes not Ross McDonell.

    Thought you might like to know.


    1. Thanks for the correction Harry! (And sorry for Russell for the mistake).