Many were appalled at the idea of London hosting the Olympics, saying it was a waste of money that could be better spent on the NHS; others quite liked the thought of a new park and pool. Many argued that putting surface-to-air missiles on tower blocks in Leytonstone and Bow could escalate the long-simmering distrust between Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets into full-blown inter-borough warfare; others were just secretly glad they could now listen to The Archers on FM without the pirates cutting in. Many – though not that many – fretted that some of the ley lines being dug up had been there since the days of King Lud; others were more troubled by the removal of the Oyster card reader from platform 3 at Greenwich station to prevent milling. And while many had to deal with the very worst of the predicted nightmares – the one in which Dizzee Rascal chases them down Eastway with a giant foam hand – others grew strangely keen to join drunken celebrations in London’s Gabonese quarter, or to debate the subtleties of taekwondo till long past their stop.
True to the spirit of Smoke: a London Peculiar magazine, From the Slopes of Olympus to the Banks of the Lea is a compendium of words and images inspired by London’s reaction to all that happened in the years between the city being awarded the Games and the ceremonial burning of Bradley Wiggins’ sideburns – and to some of what happened after. It contains very little running, jumping or splashing, but does feature cough syrup made out of rose petals gathered from a sunken barge, drunk men in Leyton pubs mooning over ponytailed Czech Amazons, and the melancholy song of a late‑night dustman.
[We put together a little eight-page sampler pdf when the book was first published to give a flavour of the contents; click here to take a peek (opens in new tab).]