Totally Thames or total distraction from the real issues swamping the East End of London?

thames©DA17: Dutch ship passes City of London from N Thames London 210415 ©
Once were sailors: a Dutch ship glides past the London monuments to big money
thames©DA: "Scientist Faraday's" island at Leamouth (Bow Creek into Thames) 190613 ©
Trinity Buoy Wharf at Leamouth four years ago. Rising up behind it is property development City Island
Sign near Millennium Dome on Greenwich Peninsula 090214 ©
An amble around the Dome can be instructive

FOR ONCE a press release has such a good introduction it’s worth using. Here it is, only slightly edited (it wasn’t that good):

The Thames travels over 210 miles, starting as a trickle in the Cotswolds, right into the centre of London and out into the North Sea. And yet, many Londoners have never engaged with the river.”

To change that, a wide-ranging festival has been held annually. This year 2017 it is held “on, beneath and besides the River Thames”, much of it in northeast London.

Organisers promise an “exciting programme of arts, cultural, archaeological and active river events, including concerts, film screenings, exhibitions, installations, performances, walks and a boat party”.

thames©DA17: Docklands: Nr Leamouth; East India Dock Basin, Newham, London E8 060914 060914 ©
Towers of flats and offices line the banks of the Thames in East London

This year Totally Thames focuses on plastic pollution, which often slips into the sea via rivers, and the 300th anniversary of Handel’s joyous Water Music.

Loving Dalston is also delighted to see that a project called Silk River will uses silk works of decoration to look at the partition of India 70 years ago, one of the dubious doings of this kingdom of ours.

Yet a mist of unease hangs over Totally Thames, partly because it was launched at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Leamouth. Nothing wrong with the venue, a big space on a historic site at the junction of the Lea and the Thames, and the assembled dignitaries and other guests seemed to love the party.

Yet surely even the least observant journalist will have noticed on the trek from East India Dock DLR station that capitalism is despoiling the area? Developers, so-called regenerators, squeeze the indigenous people out by levelling their modest homes to replace them with high-rise horrors or squat blobs of sprawling ugliness that take over any available space. They lie empty, sometimes for months awaiting foreign buyers, they being the ones likeliest to get their hands on enough money for the over-priced newbuilds.

thames©DA17: Dutch barque passes Lord Nelson @ Greenwich London 210415 ©
Nelson surveys the London River, as the central Thames is known, from Greenwich

Of course, that’s how our society works: property firm, publicists, estate agents, lawyers, marketeers and all the other hangers-on munch the big-money pie then throw the public, the taxpayers who do the real work, a few crumbs, along with a dollop of concern about plastic pollution, of which development firms have themselves been a major cause.

For these tidbits, we must be grateful. That’s just the way it is.

David Altheer 040917

* Totally Thames runs until  Saturday 30 September 2017.

* Backstory: See Leamouth while big biz permits it; Run-DMC in Stokey

Pictures © DavidAltheer[at] and all for sale for reproduction. Bigger format versions usually available.

Thames Walk: Rowena Altheer © 160610 © david,altheer@gmail,com
After the festival excitement, a Thames stroll outside London is relaxing

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