By Syd Bolton, Chief of Staff , The London Fields Preservation Society;
If you listen very hard, a late-revelling birdsong can just be heard, up in the lock-jaw, dogtooth-ripped, ancient plane trees along London Fields’ crow roads, blown on the wind, caught in the whining throttleback sound of incoming friendly fire, high over the semi-detached new City’s sugar silos and spinning U-bend of a soap operatic skyscape. Cue drum intro.
The crash and burn merchants’ warning lights are blinking, a multi-billion, bonus-backed lumen sear through the thin air of a befogged pyramid. Fiat Lux. A Zappa soundtrack plays in the cyclist’s nano-earbuds, through a city of tiny lights, diodes mapping out the index of crisis loan cranes, perched on the half-built slabs and lift towers of yet another new frontiersville. Giant shards casting their shadows across the pale limelight of Norton Folgate, taking liberties with Hackney’s onetime metropolitan board of works, an unplanned, lawless republic, the Southern Axis of Madness. Meanwhile out on the western front, swarming out of ‘de beever’, laying waste over the King’s Land, a despoiling chevauchée fans out across the Queen’s Bridge in perfect formation. Here come the lads’ army of the British Military Cycling Fitness Corps headed for their Night Games. Ce n’est pas le peloton, c’est la guerre. The Ting Ting[i] Macoutes are here too, with their babes-in-arms, child-soldiers of the cyclobellum, strapped up-front as human shields.
The eager young conscripts gather at the gates where a red, white and blue standard is decked with a proud lion, rampantly emblazoned around the lido entrance. “Park Managers” with their infra-red night lights, elastic,sub-knoppfler bandana’s strapped tightly onto buzz-cut heads, deerhunter-like, sound the opening rounds across the camouflaged common of london’s fields these dark winter evenings. A barking salvo from a former, Iron Curtain major domo and an Ashes-fallen Galipollian descendant signals that night manoeuvres have started across this already heavily yomped yummy-mummy designer pram terrain. No silver crosses on this side of town, its strictly 4 x 4 off-roaders to get to the NCT class by the shortest route possible. I digress. A Catterick Camp is formed on this Hackney cataract, as the deluge gathers momentum, bike tyre ravines are channelling into the bare earth where caterpillar tank tracks have already flattened the dead daffodils and stunted saffron municipal lawns. Hastily erected barricades surround the shelled out latrines. Is this a declaration of war? The first skirmishes of Woolfie, Citizen Smith’ s popular front, a new model army crying “freedom for Hackney”? An Italian, anarcho-situationist brigade of Luther Blissetts? No? Then perhaps Mayor Pipe’s brave, advancing olympian Pioneers or the pigtailed, kickboxing jungmaedels of Cameron Youth? In the dim parklight it’s much too hard to say.
Push-ups and scrummages, grinding knees and bare flesh, flushed cheeks pressed down in the quagmire in their designer militia-wear. JUST DO IT. Follow-my-leader tag games, ring-a-ring-a-roses SAS style – a Czech paratrooper commands – “get down!”. On your knees and pray, make peace with your own personal god, quickly, before you’re up again and dodging tracer fire from the left over bonfire night rockets of an E8 sniper boy on the landings and flats. This is project ‘Boot Camp Britain’, I counted them all in… 60 of them. Twelve quid a head for a 45 minute session of ritualised fitness, direct debits clocking up as the website hit counters spin the numbers. We’ve traded Park Managers for Para’s in the latest craze to sweep our heathlands. Paydirt opportunities for a new private army. A land made unfit for heroes has found our brave boys a post war job, selling england by the pound, an off-Broadway fringe production, hunting down the obese and TV-bound talent show generation. The retired troops are in need of some gainful trigger finger distraction, away from the blue helmets and the green zones. Mercenary City boys hit the sodden deck, callow pinstripe traders and Bickerton foldaway webjockeys by day, Arnie’s Army by night – a little bit of S&M wrestling in the mud never hurt anyone and anyway, its all off to the pub afterwards to swap tall tales of battle scars and to play a little black russian roulette with Jägerbombers to chase. They’ll be back…
In the morning, carrion crows sup from left over beer cans and feast on feral leftovers, chicken bones, pizza crusts. Another, week-long dead crow rots, belly up where it died – old age? a gangland killing? Who knows? A binliner spills its guts under the trees, spinal cords, intestines and the backbones of unidentifiable eviscerated animal remains, reek and suppurate, veiled only by the sweet eternal gas leak of our eastern ringmain, recently re-fitted with state of the art high speed anti-terror shut off devices in the event of an all out Olympic war.
Cuspid children dressed in Gove’s New Caesarian Academy purple sweatshirts crawl through the London Fields mud, Action Man pupils elbowing themselves forward, commando style, Slitherin’ with make-believe lite-automatics, forced to play war games by the school’s new barrack room bawlers. Where are you when we need you most ILEA?
No more Educational Maintenance Allowance in da slumz of Hacknee. People get ready. It’s nearly time for another round of agent provocateur induced storming of the Milbank bastille. Why settle for a sit-down protest or a classroom lockdown when you can hire one of our Heroes to help prepare for power?
Rectify the Anomaly !
[i] Apologies to Iain Sinclair, The Raging Peloton, London Review of Books Vol 33 no. 2 p.5