Travel Log for #operationlegoland – Day 6

By | August 23, 2015

The Day of (un)Rest

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Technically, Day 6 was a day of rest.  Which is how I ended up capturing nine Instagram feeds, setting up a project for Sunday (camdenmarketldn) and accidentally walking 5km.  After yesterday’s 20km marathon meander, I decided, courtesy of a poll on the Operation Legoland facebook page, that I’d go easy. And by easy, I meant a quiet stroll down to the shops to get lunch, and then when I got back, I realised that the “quiet stroll” had been from and to Paddington station, plus Paddington to Whiteley’s, and a bit of getting lost along the way, and suddenly I’d clocked up a bit of mileage.

On my “off day “, I walked further than I do on an “on day” in Canberra.

 

Secondary Data Grab of the Day

  • 9 london universities
  • Marks and Spencers
  • camdenmarketldn

It was a large data collection, using all the tricks.

Primary Data Grab of the Day

2-IMG_9097When I last stayed in London back in 2011, I was closer to Whiteley’s and it became a bit of a home ground for me. Pop down the Marks and Sparks for dinner, meet people in the top floor restaurant for business, do a little shopping here and there.  I wandered down there today, and it was a husk.

The top two floors are sealed off as officespace for the centre management, partly because I think they’d struggle to sell the space.  Floor three is decayed space.  The restaurant was gone, with the whole end that it occupied being boarded off.  Two of the food vendors were boarded up, obviously abandoned, but without “For Lease” opportunities signs to be seen.  Second floor was a mixture of closed shops (It’s Saturday. These stores are closed on a shopping day), open stores with bored staff who clearly aren’t about to see a client in a hurry.  Plus a scattering of abandoned store fronts, some with fittings still inside, some gutted bare, none advising lease opportunities or coming soon.

I got sufficiently creeped out to forget to take photos.

This is a dying building, with a dying microeconomy. I felt creeped out in the place, and basically wouldn’t hurry back down there, which is the cascade decay – Floor3 was desolated, even with a Toys-R-US and a few struggling eateries.  I mean, really, Saturday, summer, 30 degree heat outside, a cinema inside, and nobody to be found?

Austerity is a mistake. The trickle down economic reforms and the ground up poverty are killing the economy, and killing the community. This should have been a vibrant little shopping hub, ticking over steady sales, with movies, icecream, coffee and the lazy Saturday of summer retail spending.  It wasn’t. It was cold, soulless and dying, and it contracting on itself.  Third floor will soon be boarded off, and with no incentive to ascend the stairs to the cinema, the Odeon will retreat with the lost food court, and then the 3 of 5 floors gone, why would you go there when anywhere else would be a preference?

It shouldn’t be like this.

It took until today for Pulp's Disco2000 line to make sense. "Rent a flat above a shop"

It took until today for Pulp’s Disco2000 line to make sense. “Rent a flat above a shop”

Cultural Differentials

Weekends are apparently more of a thing here in London.  I was looking for a coworking space to go spend a few hours at a desk with a real chair, and the sheer number that only operation 9-5 Monday to Friday was surprising, then worrying.  Presumably, the entrepreneur start up space here in the UK doesn’t have the finances to operate the weekends.  Given the sad state of the economy in the retail space, I was also surprised to see so few workspaces out in the Paddington region.

Plus, the “Desk camping” protocol of smaller businesses leasing out individual desks to make their rent payments does not scream “Disruptive economy” to me. Instead, I see the financial screams of terror as the costs of operating crush the opportunities.

Once again, as someone who’s actually in it for the money, and wants to see commerce happen, and teaches marketing, all of this is not the capitalism I studied in the 1990s.  This economy is shifting towards feudalism, towards landed barons (landlords and IP holders) granting tiny parcels of land to workers to tend, with all resources, rewards and profit going to the barons, and the risks going to the workers.

It’s so bloody inefficient and contraeffective for making money, it’s infuriating, but the people who have the money, and made the money in the last brief spike of economic competition learnt the lesson. Don’t shut the gate if you’re on the horse that bolted. Burn down the barn it was in, and no further horses will threaten your own lead.

Unfortunately, the people who can unmake this problem are the people making the decisions to craft the crisis in the first place.  Powerful people learnt from their time climbing to power, and are pulling the ladders up behind them.

Soundtrack for the day: Chvrches – The Mother We Share in session for BBC Radio 1; https://youtu.be/j73ZGLKu9Sc