There’s A Riot Goin’ On?

All day, whilst working from home, I thought I was hearing the aural tides of the latest protests against the tree-killing, gentrification-enabling, air-polluting Lewisham Council.

With the New Cross Road area being the most polluted in the city — and yet with the surrounding area becoming increasingly desirable year on year — the removal of trees and communal green spaces is a hotly contested issue for those living here. We need the oxygen production — and the shade — not a load of ugly yuppie new builds on every available patch of land.

Pushing back against this, Lewisham Council’s idea of getting past current issues of contention is to gentrify the fuck out of the area so they can rake in the taxes and maybe fix one problem with a worse one, making the area even more expensive and hostile to those currently struggling to live a life within its boundaries.

It wouldn’t be the first time things kicked off in Deptford and New Cross over all this but, much to my initial confusion and surprise, that’s not what was happening at all.

Heading outside to see these marathon protests who’d be hollering on and off for 10 hours, my girlfriend and I were surprised to discover a full film crew at the end of our road along with a few hundred extras dresses as old school bobbies.

We asked around. It turns out Steve McQueen was filming his new BBC anthology series, Small Axe. My guess is they were reenacting the Battle of Lewisham which began just a few hundred metres away.

As interesting as McQueen’s new project sounds, this felt like the most “London” experience I’ve ever had. A real neighbourhood struggling with air pollution, gentrification and social cleansing becomes backdrop for woke BBC drama.

Last year’s protests are this year’s reenactments.

If McQueen wants to give a platform to marginalised voices, he’d be better off coming back and shooting a documentary.

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