The Lumpits 2012 is approaching fast. In the aftermath of the games, East London will be forever transformed. As for the unwanted and unplanned mutilation of the marshes, it’s a case of “you get what you’re given”. This is the Lumpit Games after all.
Here’s my snapshot of what’s happening on the ground.
As you stand before the temporary basketball centre on Leyton marsh, you could be forgiven for thinking that basketball is played by 15ft giants with mutant grasshopper hind legs.
The building looks like an aircraft hangar. Its gleaming edifices rise from a grave of bulldozed earth. The foundations, many inches deeper than agreed when the plans were submitted, have exposed secrets buried beneath the topsoil since the end of the Blitz, including asbestos and an unexploded bomb.
I was there today with my dog, Hendrix, watching workmen wave a truck through a swamp of Glastonbury Festival mud. I was wary about going through. Rumours have circulated that dogs walked on Leyton Marsh have been suffering stomach problems and ulcerated mouths (since blamed on giant hogweed – a plant which has been on the marshes for generations).
I don’t know. By the time the games begin the American athletes arriving at this centre may have to step around animals convulsing in pools of vomit.
“I thought you Limeys love dogs?” they’ll say to the security guard, perplexed.
“Well, we love green spaces too,” the guard will say. “Life’s a bitch. Enjoy the game.”
My guess is that performance-enhancing drugs are to blame for basketball facilities requiring cathedral-height ceilings. I don’t have a problem with this. If I was in charge, all such drugs would be permitted – nay, encouraged. My no-holds barred approach would turn the Lumpit Games into an international science fair celebrating humanity’s progress.
I wouldn’t stop at chemical and biological cheating either. Physics should get more of a look in. One day I’d love to see the headline:
MARATHON WON BY TIME TRAVELLER
Controversial Chinese runner Li Peimeng finished the race today half an hour before it began, smashing all known records. The Kenyans are said to be “furious”.
Or in the more distant future….
I decided the scene on Leyton marsh was unpleasant and that I’d go to Hackney Marsh instead. But on arrival I was stopped by a woman who told me “access is restricted.” I peered over her shoulder to see a single fence, perhaps 100 metres long, a couple of trucks and a line of yellow tape strewn loosely on the ground round the perimeter. Otherwise the marsh was as normal.
I realised they were preparing for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend featuring Jessie J, Professor Green, Will.i.am, David Guetta and Leona Lewis.
Clearly they mean “big” in the sense of a turd that blocks your toilet.
I wanted to do my usual walk in the copse by the old River Lea and assumed that would be okay, so I made a beeline for the trees , keeping Hendrix on a lead. I was intercepted by a man on a bicycle in a high visibility jacket, sporting a cycling helmet. The head safety gear seemed unnecessary since his job was to ride around in a big open field of grass.
“This is private property,” he told me, gesturing at the length of tape round the marsh, much in the same way my 3-year old daughter says “This string is the door to my castle” and I humour her and say, “Yes you are a beautiful princess”.
“Oh, private property now, is it?” I said. I pulled a fistful of grass out of the ground and sprinkled it into my hair. “That’s a remarkable coincidence because I’ve just been declared a ‘public space’ by a conglomerate of international businessmen.”
Of course, I didn’t day that because I’m a weak man and spend 90% of my life inside my own head conversing with space lizards.
Instead I said, “But this is where I walk my dog,” as if he would have given a shit.
As he patronised me with some guff about health and safety, I gazed at the tops of the Lumpit Games Stadia and Anish Kapoor’s enormous helter skelter, constructed to represent the re-imagining of this ex-industrial edgeland. What angers me about Kapoor’s monstrosity is that I submitted my own public art idea (including diagrams), which was roundly rejected and I still don’t know why.
My idea was simpler and far more cost-effective: a sculpture representing the five rings.
- Ring one - a cock ring.
- Ring two - a ring piece (plaster cast most likely).
- Ring three - ringworm (represented by a leg covered in a rash)
- Rings four & five - a classic British telephone (“ring ring”)
In a passionate and detailed letter (including diagrams) I suggested we stick all the above on a high concrete plinth near the entrance of Westfield Shopping Centre and call it Best
of British. For the grand opening we’d have Spearmint Rhino dancers in bikinis and maybe Nick Knowles cutting the ribbon.
See for yourself. Have a look at my diagrams. They took bloody ages.