COME with me. Let me lead you through the dark alleyways of old London, where the rats and urban foxes battle it out over putrid scraps of shish kebab. And where filth-ridden pigeons nibble at choice morsels in a technicolour puddle of vomit and bile. Chip wrappers, dancing in the wind like flags of surrender, are streaked through with pram tracks, as a bawling inhabitant is shoved along by a teenage mother on Brixton crack and State benefit. Her pursed lips and scowling face carved in the tough backstreets of a council estate, old before their time and flanked by hooped earrings and a pink mobile phone. No education. No sense. No future. The doorways are littered with mouldy sleeping bags, as life stirs among wet blankets and scraps of cardboard. The psychos and the drug addicts nestle together like pieces of human refuse, waiting to die in an unsympathetic expression of biological garbage. A living tangle of inadvertent Dadaism. Unwanted sludge on the heel of a passer-by, far too busy to notice the flotsam and jetsam that has sunk right down to the very bottom of the septic tank that is modern society.
THE City. A bastion of materialism where misery reigns supreme on a gilded throne of opulence and greed. Where degradation flirts with hopelessness and wealthy businessmen, with piggy eyes and sweaty palms, thrust knives of steel into the heart of a local community. Drugs and alcohol are the only escape from the madness of day to day living, where teenage girls have to sell their own bodies in order to survive. Hamburger cartons litter the streets where the homeless beg for money beside concrete playgrounds full of brainwashed children. Meanwhile, the oldest of the city-dwellers sit huddled and afraid. Too scared to venture out in case they are attacked or robbed by a nihilistic youth element. Preferring to die of hyperthermia in a rabbit hutch that has no central heating. The small trader struggles to survive as the monopolies gradually wear him down, day by day, hour by hour. Roving bands of youths, bored and frustrated, vent their fury on the property of others. Graffiti is scrawled on any available space, as though the city were a giant scrapbook in which to express the idle thoughts of a lost generation. Nothing artistic. Nothing cultural. Just the worthless outpourings of an inferior mind where imagination and creativity – if they were ever present in the first place – are pushed aside by an imported American lifestyle. The polluted river, where fish once swam and thrived in plenty, has become like congealed jelly, full of chemical waste, used condoms and bobbing layers of thick scum. Row upon row of overcrowded tower blocks – where the closest identification with nature is found on a television screen or in a goldfish bowl – overlook hordes of pin-striped conformists, working nine to five before returning to the suburban shoe-boxes from where they came like obedient termites. A brick chimney stack blots the skyline. Here, the workers are controlled and exploited for a pittance by a smug man with a parasitical personality who puffs on fat cigars and drinks Perrier water. As the atmosphere is choked by streams of billowing smoke, the grey clouds gather like vultures and the acid rain begins to fall to earth. Miniature droplets creating their own liquid Hiroshima. Crouched beside the tell-tale green of an eroded statue, the ghost of Henry Mayhew is scribbling down his thoughts on remarkably preserved scraps of Victorian notepaper. Like a silent observer, he is here to witness… the end of an age.