January 13: wapping

Wapping is a fluvial area of London east of Tower Bridge. In the 19th Century it was a district of docks and wharfs inhabited by a largely working class population. We went for a walk there today. Now it has been gentrified, or, as I like to call it, Waitrose-washed. Blocks of executive flats with empty balconies span the area punctuated by one or two pubs left over from the 1800s. There is a pub once owned by the painter Turner who put his mistress there as landlady, Another devoted to Captain Kidd. But on the so-called Wapping High Street there are no shops to speak of. Wapping is a ghost town. There is a Waitrose somewhere to satisfy the new aspirant Wappers (Bankers perhaps; the city is one way, Canary wharf the other). You wonder about this kind of London quarter, there’s another one arising round the corner from me at Nine Elms west of Vauxhall. Wapping is soul-less, with no visible sign of life in the streets, an empty children’s playground on a sunny Sunday morning, a plethora of estate agents. This is the kind of area that London is beginning to specialise in, bleak, driven by short term profit and presided over by a mediocre political class that sees thousands homeless in the steets and continues to patronise the building of forests of executive blocks. In the Orwellian Newspeak of the time some of these apartments are affordable. Never mind. We wouldn’t want them anyway.


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