Leicester Square, Twinned With Afghanistan


This is how Leicester Square looked during the strikes of the seventies. It’s not much different now, except that tourists have replaced the binbags. Actually, if you look carefully you’ll see that the surrounding buildings were a lot nicer then.

Now, thanks to excessive plastic signage, the rampant spread of outside drinking areas, takeaways, mimes and other bits of tat, Leicester Square is now a place all sensible Londoners avoid like the plague. Actually I’m sure there are smarter parts of Iraq right now. Thank you Boris Johnson, for doing nothing at all to prevent the centre of London looking like a giant rubbish dump.

Which brings me to this hilarious Victorian-style image of how the new casino operators who have taken over the old Leicester Square Hippodrome would like to imagine themselves. But then I suppose an image of drunk Chinese guys betting in tracksuits would put people off. I used to go there when it was the Talk Of The Town, and they had world-famous acts performing with great orchestras. No theatre management company would take up the risk of returning it to a theatre, and so it languishes with yet another owner who’ll stay for a few more years before stripping it out again.

The only way to prevent the area from being a tourist-slum is to balance the number of drinking establishments with shops or offices. Not everything has to be a bar, does it?

4 comments on “Leicester Square, Twinned With Afghanistan”

  1. J F Norris says:

    And appropriately a giant billboard for a movie about the Antichrist looms in the background.

  2. Joyce says:

    Why are casinos ‘sold’ to us with advertisements showing glamorous James Bond types having a super time with women who look like catwalk models. Unfortunately the truth is grottier. Aucklands Sky tower is an example – looks amazing outside but inside…hmmm.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    Casinos make money, theatres don’t. What does that tell us about the human animal? Does ‘something for nothing’ cross your mind? How much zoning manipulation of areas is there? Can you actually say to a business person, “You can’t have a bar there because there are too many now?” Do they ever say the same to bookshops or sweet shops? A whole string of questions, perhaps I should stop with a period.

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