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?