I'm finally getting down to do some real research for this project at The Royal Standard. I've started reading Iain Sinclair's Lights Out for the Territory. Which charts a series of walks done by the writer across London in the mid-nineties.

It's good. He seems less angry than in London Orbital, which was written much later, in 2002. But then again, by 2002 Labour had been in power for five years. Tony Blair was about to throw us into a nine year war in Iraq, and, for a resident of East London, such as Sinclair, the Millennium Dome  was there, just waiting to bring the bile up to the back of one's throat.

Sinclair references the Dome a lot in his writing. For someone interested in the city as a mystical place - with city politics as black magic - the Dome is an obvious touchstone. The Dome is something that everyone remembers for the wrong reasons, and as a signifier for corrupt and pointless acts of government expenditure, you can't get much better. Well, not yet anyway. London 2012 awaits...

Anyway, as I'm reading a lot of Sinclair, I thought I'd walk to the Dome and see if I could sense any of the dark energy being picked up or sent out by those yellow metal struts.


To get down to Greenwich foot tunnel I have to walk through Canary Wharf. That place is mystifying. It has its own security force. Not the people in the orange jackets - sure they're paid to stand around and look at you with a beady eye as you take photos. No, the real security are the joggers. The infinite lunchtime joggers.

As I approached the roadside security hut (private land - if you're driving you get checked on the way in. No undesirables - not that anyone would know what Canary Wharf desires, apart from incredibly fluid capital, but how do you fit that in your car?) I saw a guy jogging up and down the road beside Billingsgate Fish Market. Back and forth. Sprinting slowly. He would hit a wall as he got to the edge of the land owned by LDDC (London Docklands Development Corporation). Perhaps he was trying to escape. Needed a run up. Maybe he had one of those metal tags in his feet, like a supermarket trolley with a magnetic security feature. Everyone gets one when you work here.

As I took this photo (there is the Dome, lurking in the background, behind the masonic pillars that mark the edge of the territory [maybe they send out the magnetic signal to stop escapees?]), two more joggers passed me, on lunchtime patrol. Australians. Talking about their Olympic tickets. I imagine Olympic tickets raining down on Canary Wharf like confetti, or torn up £50 notes.

Here is a nice dead zone across the water. I think I can get onto there - maybe something to try when Colin Dilnot comes down to visit me for more research. What would I do there? Perform shamanistic rituals? Sacrifice a Pret a Manger sandwich? Gymnastics? How long would I last before the joggers dived in, swam over and escorted me from the property? Is it in their jurisdiction, or would they bounce back off the LDDC's force field, and watch me from the edge of their Zone, wondering what on earth I was doing and how I could possibly monetise it?

As you get across to South Quay, the money starts to fade away. More fencing, less security. Less brand names. More independent (read: weird) retailers. Faceless warehousey-offices designed by no-namers. Here is a nice altar upon which to perform for passers by - mostly lost tourists and shame faced Canary Wharf workers who live the wrong side of the South Quay footbridge (because who else would live here? Why?).

And here is some fake grass around the base of a tree.


Greenwich Foot Tunnel. The lift is out of order (has been for at least a year) - so it is stairs down, and stairs back up the other end. I'm surprised by the amount of drain covers in the tunnel. What are they for? Surely we want to keep the borders pretty tight on this place? And why are there puddles on the floor? Is there something we should be told? Occasional light rain perhaps. Spilled bottles of water. Dogs who can't wait. We hope.

Then along the Thames path for a while, From Greenwich towards Blackwall Point (Points and Quarters, very regeneration-y terms. Don't see them much outside of the yellow signs that attempt to navigate you around a blank world of new build houses and empty streets). Many diversions, because of all the developments - thousands of empty flats. Sorry, luxury riverside apartments. Almost as many flats as there are pubs called The Cutty Sark. Maybe someone should call a meeting. There should be a catchment area around the ship which gives pubs the right to call themselves The Cutty Sark. It gets confusing.


As I approach the Dome from different angles, I keep seeing the big hole that pierces the side of the tent (For that is what it is, a big tent. Let us not forget.) like a trepanated skull. Maybe it lets all the bad vibes out. The sad John Prescott energies. It lets all the good energies in. The O2 energies. The branded energies of well known food chains. The Cineworld vibes.


I get to the Blackwall Tunnel underpass.More Dead Zones to colonise. To inhabit. Good places to drink tins of super strong lager and howl at the sky. Exorcise New Labour with Big Society street drinking and sick up the life blood of Peter Mandelson into a discarded traffic cone. Carry it around like an Olympic torch. Pour him back into the river.


To walk to the Dome is to miss the point entirely. Why do you think we built all the roads? What was the Jubilee line extension for?

I'm on Millennium Way here. A begrudging pavement finally accepted me after a haphazard road crossing. I went over the roundabout, climbed it like a shit mountain, and dropped onto the traffic-less approach to the Dome.

Fenced off water feature. Everything is still being built. All the time. For ever. Nothing has been finished here since they started building it.

These water features are on Peninsula Square, in front of the entrance to the Dome. They look like they are a mistake. Bad plumbing. Oozing filthy water up from the Thames. Maybe from the drains of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

I don't know what this is, but it was humming and no one else was looking at it. Does the Dome have its own  power station? Is it sentient? Maybe it creates the Millenial force field within which the correct '2000' style conditions are maintained in order for the Dome to stay erect.


I went into the dome, got my bag searched (Standard. They should have done it when I crossed the border into Canary Wharf). The whole place was empty - it being a Friday morning in January. No big shows. No summer crowds. Putting on a brave face. It was me, the security guards (no joggers), and a few more lost tourists.

There is a big sign advertising the opportunity to download a Kasabian gig that took place on New Year's Eve (2011, not 1999). The band look sad in the photo. Like they know that they are stuck within the Millenial force field, forever failing to create music that sounds like the present. Retro-necro at the Dome. Maybe they never played on NYE. They just ran a tape from a gig in 2000, did some video FX to make them look a bit older and fatter. Richer.

And that was it really. A lot of empty restaurants. A few bars. Oh, and a Nissan promotional 'Experience' where you got to pretend to drive an electric car.

And design an electric car.

And have your picture taken in front of a green screen with an electric car. You got to choose what caption went on your picture. Mine says 'grim'.