Ten Things London Can Do Without In 2010
1. More tapas bars
It was bad enough when they were only Spanish, offering the cuisine that consists of eggs, ham or potatoes on little plates, but now ‘tapas’ is being applied to everything. Nearby we have Mexican, Indian and Italian tapas. I’m waiting for Dim Sum to be rebranded as Chinese tapas.
2. ‘The Mousetrap’. Maybe half a century ago it was considered exciting theatre, but now it’s an elephant’s acting graveyard attended by puzzled Chinese tourists, and it’s blocking up an attractive theatre none of us will ever see inside, because we already know the detective did it. Oh, don’t pretend you didn’t know. Close it down and put something new on. And let’s get rid of circus theatre while we’re at it. If I want to see a bunch of kids in overalls banging dustbin lids I’ll go and watch the rubbish being collected, and I won’t have to pay £50 a ticket.
3. 3D Movies. No matter how seriously they want us to take them, it always comes down to someone waving a stick in your face.
4. Crowdsourcing. Camera crews study film and photography in order to understand how to shoot scenes in a professional manner. So why does the BBC insist on showing us wobbly footage of dogs and snowmen shot on viewers’ mobile phones?
5. Infantilism. Grown-ups are reading children’s supernatural fantasies. Adults are playing computer games. It wasn’t always like this; Picasso surpassed his father’s painting techniques before he was thirteen. Mozart played minuets at the age of four. But now even museum exhibitions seem aimed at children with ADD. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to a museum and read the related material without the last line reading ‘Why do you think slavery was wrong?’ or ‘Can you see the penguin?’
6. The Walkie Talkie. London’s skyline has some wonderful new buildings including the much-loved Gherkin, but the Walkie Talkie is as attractive as a detached prosthetic foot. One of the newest towers planned for the city hasn’t even been given a nickname by the public, it’s that boring.
7. Corporate tents in public parks. Our green spaces are famously referred to as the lungs of London – so why do tents full of twerps in suits selling mobile phones spring up in them every summer?
8. Bendy buses. The Mayor promised to get rid of them (that was about the only plank of his election platform) but they’re still here, and still placing cyclists at risk.
9. Signs and Instructions. There are over a dozen poles announcing things in my street. One is a huge sign explaining where Barnesbury is, for God’s sake. It’s a tiny residential area and no-one even needs to go there. It’s now impossible to read a book on the tube because you get simultaneous announcements both inside and outside the carriages, some recorded, some live. Enough! We’re not children, we have eyes and tongues, and when they fail us, Satnavs and GPS systems.
10. Restaurant reviewers who spend most of their time writing about their personal lives instead of talking about food. Yes, Giles Coren, you and the dreadful AA Gill, who disparagingly refers to his companion as ‘The Blonde’, both seem unable to stick to the brief. Newsprint is at a premium, book pages are always being cut – if you can’t find enough to write about after visiting a restaurant there are others who could use the space.