Monday, September 11, 2006

The Joys of Lambeth pt226

The day after I wrote a blog posting about how Lambeth is the kind of place where you can stab a woman in a frenzied attack at nine o’clock on a weekday morning, run off covered in blood and not get caught, a fat, brightly coloured envelope plonked through my letterbox.

It was an information pack from Lambeth Council.

My favourite part was the selection of six complimentary Lambeth Life postcards we’re all presumably supposed to send to friends and relatives around the world to make them jealous.

Clearly, the producers of the cards come from the Blairesque ‘If we only think and express happy thoughts nobody will notice how shit everything really is’ school of philosophy.

NB Triumph of the Will was made in 1935

The booklet of useful council services that came with the cards kind of took the edge off the ‘only think happy thoughts’ process a little; filled as it is with contact details of drug therapy units, battered wives shelters and mental health councillors.

Anyway, inspired as I was by these postcards I thought about producing my own competing set, spent five minutes rooting around my Flickr photostream and came up with my own selection of Lambeth Life photos suitable for use in a souvenir postcard collection. OK, a couple come from nearby Southwark but much of there is pretty shite too…

  • Convenience store firebombing (two fatalities)
  • Money wiring/ laundering service
  • Missing cat (subsequently found decapitated along with half a dozen others)
  • Six traffic wardens working my street simultaneously
  • JCdM shooting shrine
  • Yellow 'murder board' (schoolgirl raped at knifepoint)
  • Two blokes going through the contents of my bin
  • Firebombed motorbike
  • Illegal migrant staffed brothel on the Old Kent Rd
  • Human shit on smashed bus shelter glass
  • Standard SLP headline - 'drug use worst in UK'
  • Discarded heroin addict paraphernalia outside my flat (bloodstained undergarments cropped out of frame)
  • Superstrong lager connoisseur
  • Bogus ID for illegals on sale
  • Murder scene (Black Prince Rd)
  • Half bottle of 'High Commissioner' scotch (my favourite brand) filled with piss next to my flat

Of course, this is only a representative selection. For example, I could have chosen any one of dozens of pictures of yellow murder boards and crime scene photographs from my extensive collection; though I did stop adding to it a little while ago because it wasn't funny any more.

Could I have come up with a similar haul of pictures ten or twenty years ago? Yup, no argument there. But it would have been a lot harder. Much harder. What people take for granted today would have been considered unusual back then.

So, even if I were to forget the war on terror, the invasions, the erosion of civil liberties, and levels of corruption that would put Italians to shame, I'd still have a sackful of issues about what our current government has done to my city, and presumably lots of other people’s cities.

Our schools are shit, our hospitals are bankrupt, our underclass is burgeoning and our police are off chasing pixies. And all this in spite of the fact that we've never spent more on our public services.

The mantra ‘Well, it’s better than Thatcher’ just won’t cut it anymore.

On one level, the causes for the range of problems I see all around me are numerous and complicated. On a higher level they all boil down to the basic issue of a tiny number of people having a right old laugh at the expense of the rest of us. And who out there would have the balls to suggest that the entire New Labour project is not buried so far up the arse of that tiny ruling elite that it can’t see daylight?

So, forgive me for not getting too excited about the possible demise of Tony Blair and not buying into the notion that everything will be back on track and hunky dory once he has been dealt with.

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