Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Why not call a white elephant “White Elephant” - London’s Olympic Park

News today that the public is being asked to name the five new Olympic Park neighbourhoods which are to spring up after next year’s big event. Some 8000 homes will be built in what are basically bits of Leyton, Straford and Hackney Wick. 

They could, I suppose go for the upwardly-mobile, estate agent trick of adding “Village” to the name of the area they’re nearest (for instance, we now have a “Chiswick Village” near us). That would be dead easy – Hackney Wick Village, Leyton Village etc. That should add a hint of cosiness to what will no doubt be gleaming but bleak areas for a few years, until the surrounding horror engulfs them and they turn into dilapidated and bleak areas.

But why not cut to the chase and give them names more in keeping with what they’ll rapidly turn into? (After all, Stratford can now proudly boast the highest crime rate in all London.)

For instance, we could be monosyllabically honest and end up with names along the lines of Hole, Dump, Bleak, Waste and Glum. 

Or we could be more syllabically generous and lead towards White Elephant, Arse End, Chavton, Wasteland and Hope’s End. Or Benefits Park, Gangfight, Crime Scene, Stranded and Crackwhore. 

Or we could simply use the names of those responsible for this disaster-in-the-making and call them Blair, Coe, Livingstone, Jowell and Chirac (if he hadn’t made stupid remarks about English food before the vote, Paris could have been landed with wasteful nonsense instead). 

Or we could favour the sort of portmanteau names traditionally associated with rural villages: Something-on-my-Shoe, Little Stabbing-in-the-Dark, Greater Lipstick-on-a-Pig, Midsomer Knifecrime and Much Blood-in-the-Street.

However, I’m really hoping for an historic note. In the 16th Century, “Alsatia” was the unofficial name of the area north of Fleet Steet, between the Temple and St. Bride’s, officially known as Whitefriars. King James I gave it semi-autonomous powers in 1608, after which it became a lawless magnet for criminals, especially debtors. Raids finally brought it under control in 1697. One of these new areas really should be called Alsatia.

“Rookery” should be the name of another: obviously, it was a general descriptive term for criminal warrens, but it has a fine historical ring to it.

As for a name covering all five areas – what about Quangoland?

If, on the other hand, this development proves an enormous success, leading to the introduction of civilisation to this benighted area, I must state clearly now that I was always for it.


  1. The name for all five areas should surely be Steroid City. Other place names could take their inspiration from particular performance enhancing drugs.

    I quite fancy a tasteful end of terrace home in Princess Dianabol Drive, preferably with a view of the synchronised swimming stadium.
    Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 10:54 AM

  2. I'm sure these exciting new areas will benefit from a strict drug-testing regime - unfortunately, the local Labour council wouldl probably evict residents who aren't taking enough
    Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 08:10 PM