Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Lee, Lea, Leela O'Dea and morbid geography

New reed beds are being installed on the banks of the River Lee, according to Waterscape. But if you read the Gazette reed beds are being installed on the banks of the Lea (and the Lee) - Both quote Leela O'Dea who sounds like she might know the difference (I don't).

Waterscape says: "Improving the ecological value of these waterways, whilst maintaining their character and use is an important part of the WFD"

Hopefully it's not unfair to say that Hackney's waterways have slightly sinister characteristics (the kind of place you might meet a borrible). If anyone is offended, this bit from Luke Jenning's book Blood Knots, turns sinister into a virtue: "The best big pike waters have a numinous, forbidding air. Cold, reed-fringed East Anglian meres. Desolate Irish loughs. Dark, secretive waters "as deep as England", as Ted Hughes puts it. You feel that you're trespassing, that you're violating some natural law just by being there. Certain stretches of London waterways, like the Regent's Canal and the River Lea, fall into this category."

"These silent conduits barely figure in most local people's lives. As the years have passed they've become invisible, walled off from residential areas and the footpaths of commerce as if they present a danger. And perhaps they do: what could be more fatal to the garishly hyped-up business of consumption than, like a memento mori, a sudden glimpse of black water, sliding past as silent as the Styx? I will be here when your lifestyle accessories are landfill, such a vision promises. I will be here when the music ends.

"Hidden from the public gaze, transfigured by changing circumstance, London's waterways have been absorbed into an alternate, morbid geography. At night, with their dank concrete and rusting ironwork, they're the domain of fly-tippers, graffiti taggers (lots of proof here), drug dealers, pimps and drunks. If you're fishing there, you have to watch yourself. Even so, it's worth it."

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