London Isn’t Very Equal (Part Two) – To Tower Hamlets

London remains scandalously unequal
London remains scandalously unequal

Click here for Part One

From London and its most gentrified and fake, we go the city at its poorest and most raw.

Leaving gentrified Bermondsey, we went to visit another friend. We knew Compadre #2 from school days in Somerset, when she was a warm, caring, alternative type who wrote and sang her own songs. She still is warm, caring and alternative, thankfully, but has chucked in the guitar and the lashings of emo-standard black eyeliner for a job in a small music promotions company.

It’s laughable to look back on now – especially given where we’d just come from – but at school we called her ‘posh’. She lived in a slightly nicer part of town and her dad had a reasonably well-paid job. In truth, they were just about middle class, and probably didn’t bring in a whole lot more than the average household income.

Now she lives in Tower Hamlets, one of the most glaringly unequal parts of the country, let alone London. It’s hugely deprived – 42% of its children are impoverished, the highest proportion anywhere in Britain, and its richest inhabitants live about 11 years longer than its poorest ones. But it’s just a few minutes east of the oligarch’s den itself, the City, and the gleaming phalluses of the bank buildings dominate the horizon. A relatively small number of super-rich residents pull the borough’s average income up to £58,000 a year – the second-highest in the country – and its proximity to the biggest financial hub outside Wall Street gives it an economy worth £68bn. Its house prices have gone up a mind-bending 43% since last year. Continue reading “London Isn’t Very Equal (Part Two) – To Tower Hamlets”

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(The Perils Of) Straight Line Thinking: A Cod-Philosophical Spurt, Post-Alan Moore

Weirdy-beardy straight line-buster Alan Moore
Alan Moore

Busting out of the corridor of convention, with a little help from Albion’s beardiest magician.

The Bemolution recently watched The Mindscape of Alan Moore, 2005’s hypnotic docu-insight into the world of England’s finest fake snake-god worshipping anarchist, comic book writer and beard-sporting dissident genius. In an 80-minute monologue, Moore charts his precipitous rise from Northamptonian squalor to international renown as the author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta and several more of the cleverest, wittiest, most philosophically profound graphic novels ever written. He also talks at length about his often mind-bending, ever-fascinating worldview, and, in a particular highlight, the need to consider the reader’s delicate brain-to-penis blood ratio when trying to write intelligent porn.

On the day he turned 40, Moore recounts, he decided to start calling himself a magician. It certainly suited the druid-dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards look he’d been working for the previous few decades. But given the kind of toothless New Age gobbledegook many of his generation had been happy to indulge in, Moore’s ‘magic’ was refreshingly pragmatic. For him, ‘magic’ is just art, broadly defined – using words, sounds and symbols to change people’s consciousness. In fact, unusually for a self-declared shaman, there’s nothing particularly supernatural about his worldview at all. You imagine he reveres Glycon, the Roman snake-god famously outed as glove puppet in the second century, largely to prove a point – ‘the one place in which gods and demons inarguably exist,’ he intones, ‘is in the human mind, where they are real in all their grandeur and monstrosity’. Continue reading “(The Perils Of) Straight Line Thinking: A Cod-Philosophical Spurt, Post-Alan Moore”