A midsummer shout-out to all my friends in London, one of my favorite cities to be in anytime, either personally or in my imagination in hundreds of novels. Any time, er, except perhaps right now.
Summer is always an elusive season in London, but this one finds old towne sinking rapidly into a steampunk disaster story. Just to recount the stories that have crossed the American media bubble. Tens of thousands of privileged and fussy visitors are preparing to descend through Heathrow (OMG) into a city already under permanent and great security strain since 7/7 (why did anyone ever think that would be a good idea?). Ahead of the big bash, the city has had an epically wet and unpleasant summer.
And instead of an opportunity to show off the wonders of neo-liberalism to a global elite, the major economic story is that the big City banks appear to have conspired to rig the entire financial services economy on which the nation has staked its economy.
Now, to cap off this plot, the vast and scary private everything corporation, with the ominous name (don’t these people ever watch science fiction movies?) “G4S,” which had been handed a humungous sweetheart contract to provide security for the games, has acknowledged only days before the event launches that it is thousands of people short of its promised staffing levels (read the Guardian reporting here) and as a result thousands of soldiers and police (almost every London police officer already had their leaves canceled months ago) will have to be deployed at a massive cost to the public treasury.
How this could be happening in a country with staggering unemployment (mind you G4S, which types out G$S if you don’t type carefully, runs the job centers in much of the nation) is mind boggling. In a parliamentary degradation ceremony yesterday, the company’s CEO was forced to agree that it was all a “humiliating shambles.”
Oh well, this too shall pass, and hopefully without any surface-to-air missiles (which apparently have been installed across a number of city rooftops) being launched. I’m told by thoughtful architects and urban planners that the infrastructures installed for the London games will help revitalize the eastside. And then you can look forward to winter.
Cross-posted from Jonathan Simon’s blog, Governing Through Crime.