The final demolition - the loss of a name
What's in a name? The OPLC has launched a competition to find names for the soon to be created neighbourhoods on the Olympic Park. The suggested names will be judged by 'a panel made up of senior board members of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and key representatives of the East London local community.' I wonder who they will be. Jules and Robin? At least one of the twelve judges will be 'independent'! Presumably that means the rest will not, just the usual timeservers.
The BBC provides an unhelpful guide to the neighourhoods which fails to mention key information about their recent past. For example, Neighourhood One was the site of the demolished Clays Lane estate, along with the travellers's site and Park Village students' estate. Neighbourhood Two was where residents from Hackney Wick used to enjoy the beauties of Arena Field. The Beeb thinks it more relevant to dig back into ancient history than to remember recent evictions but even then manages to get that wrong claiming that the 'Ham' in West Ham meant 'low lying pasture'. Actually it was Anglo-Saxon for settlement or homestead.
The LimpLegCo declares 'we’d also love to hear what inspired your idea, especially if you have particular memories or stories about the area.' In truth the process of demolition requires the loss of memory itself in the destruction of even the names of the places demolished. History is not the past but what is remembered about the past. Naming is key to remembering.
The Oh my Politically correct Legacy Company spins on: 'The winning names will be those which are judged to be the most apt, taking into account the history of the area and any reference to such history in the name, how fun and innovative the names are and how well they reflect the diversity of the host boroughs and the character of the area in general.' I guess the choice of 'Queen Elizabeth' as a suitable name for the Park should provide an example of a fun, innovative, diverse and locally historically relevant name for a neighbourhood.
The OneLimpLegCo also wants 'names that capture the distinctive character of each area and celebrate the transformation of the Park after the excitement of the Games.' Difficult to see exactly what they are looking for here. Perhaps 'Wasteland to Wonderland Way', 'Olympic Legacy Lane' or 'Velodrome Victory Village'?
But how to capture the distinctive character of the areas, the idea of their transformation and the particular memories which inspire local people? The BBC refers to the architectural qualities of the new Neighbourhood One. Perhaps the OhwhataLimpLegCo would go for a classically styled name like 'The Ruined Courts of Clays Lane Village' which would pay a wistful homage to the unique courtyard structure of the sadly demolished but tranformed estate, while a name like 'Arena Field of Concrete Wharf' for Neighbourhood Two would combine the idea of the transformation of a beloved playing field with a modern estate agent's take on an old canalside site.
But then again, possibly not. That might bring back unwanted memories.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Thu, 24/03/2011 - 04:26.