East London

London, UK

Brick chimney

Chimney by the Regents Canal, Hackney.

London, UK

I spent Sunday afternoon wandering around the hinterlands of East London with a friend who is well-versed in London’s history and psychogeography. We didn’t quite achieve our goal of exploring the Lea Valley before it disappears under the treads of the Olympic bulldozers, but we did see some parts of London that were mostly unfamiliar to me.

We had a taste of what the Lea Valley area will become when we blundered into a maze of new developments by the Thames, all gated communities and high-rise glass. Off Blackwall Way, some very polite South Asian security guards told us that we were free to wander (more or less) where we liked and take all the photographs we wanted of the river and of the Millenium Dome on the far side, provided we didn’t take any pictures of the shiny new condos that they were guarding. At Trinity Buoy Wharf, no guards were in evidence but a sign warned us that photography was prohibited without prior permission. As mere pedestrians we were not entitled to the same protection: everywhere we went, surveillance cameras peered down at us and signs informed us that we were being watched for our protection.