Although I live a nice 3 mile walk along the River Lea from the Olympic Stadium, I haven’t been down there in person to see how it’s changed in over two years. I went down there yesterday to take photos of the Park and of the area surrounding it to see if it has been developed because of the Games. It was a more eventful afternoon than I had planned…
My friend and I were taking photos, found on my flickr account here, of the Park and the area around it. During the short stretch of path by the river we were confronted by 3 security guards, one of whom came around from the other side of the fence and was very aggressive towards us from the minute he saw us taking photos of the stadium. He thought we were taking photos of him (which we had no interest in doing!) and ran round and demanded to look through all our photos to see if he was in any of them. He wasn’t. He and another colleague then walked off without apologising or showing any amount of interest in what we were doing. He also threatened to throw our cameras “in the fucking river”! So, not only does the Olympic Park look like a prison from the outside, the people who work for it behave like prison guards too.
From an up-close, real view of the site and the area around it, it really wasn’t the welcoming place I had expected to see. The Park is a castle that no one can get into with it’s high electric fences as the walls, and surrounding river as the moat. There are houses right next to the river on the other side from the Park that had clearly been there a long time. How must the residents have felt when this fortress was built and the high fences were put up? It gives off such a feeling of exclusion and not being welcome that I can completely understand why so many locals are so angry and feel unfairly treated. There were abandoned houses along the river too, and the water was really dirty and clearly very little money has been spent on the other side of the fence.
It’s really given me another take on the park, compared to my lucky tour inside it only a few weeks ago. I’m far more pessimistic now about how the Olympics will turn out and especially how I reckon the locals feel.