‘There’s a comfort in the size of big suppliers, despite the poor record some have for delivery,’ Francis Maude told a government conference this week. Was he perhaps thinking of Paul Deighton, recently honoured for his key role in staging the London 2012 Olympics? This is what Deighton told a committee of MPs in September when asked to explain the G4S Olympic security debacle: ‘We thought that it being the biggest security company in the world, it was the safest way… They could and should have been able to deliver it.’
Craig Taylor has produced a book called Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now – As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It (phew). This review says he ‘has a talent for finding interlocutors, building up the intimacy needed for them to speak freely, and sensitively pruning the resulting deluge of words to uncover their essence’. In which case, he would make a good journalist. I like the notion of trawling the capital’s internet cafes to uncover its ‘digital unconscious’:
Their sputtering computers, above which hang Met Police posters warning against sites of a pornographic or “extremist” nature, are portals to countless micro-Londons: type a single letter into a search engine and details come tumbling out about what previous users have been looking up. Depending on where you are, there’ll be live streams of Turkish minor-league football, the latest episode of some Eritrean soap opera, details of knocking shops specialising in Lithuanian women or shaky footage of anti-American demagogues waving their fists.
When read alongside undeleted Word documents detailing immigration battles, divorce proceedings, STD dramas, applications for council housing and badly spelled press releases for pop-up gallery shows, what emerges is the digital unconscious of the capital. Here, in all its cacophonous fragmentation, is a real-time archive of London.
I really never expected to hear Bertolt Brecht quoted at a seminar on spectrum auctions. Professor Martin Cave cited Die Lösung (The Solution) during his talk on spectrum policy, arguing that the regulators at Ofcom, having introduced rules to allow spectrum trading, must be disappointed that so few trades have taken place – just as the East German government (according to Brecht) must have been disappointed by their citizens’ lack of enthusiasm for their magnificent Stalinist policies:
The Solution - Bertolt Brecht
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?