Published: 5 July, 2012
by RICHARD OSLEY
TIDY up, you truffle-hunting slobs, sitting there all day on your sofa surrounded in your own chip shop muck. For a couple of weeks, just clean up, clean up your street, will you?
That’s a short way of digesting the message we are basically being told by ‘the authorities’ through a quite nauseous advert campaign on the walls around London right now.
It’s a drive hinged on the idea that we all need to do our bit to smarten up the city because, and only because, the Olympics are coming.
They want us to scrub up nice not because, I don’t know, London should always look as nice as it can be. No – they want us to do it so visitors from other parts of the world are fooled into thinking the walls of our city are never graffiti’d on, no one chunders up kebabs in the gutter and nobody throws empty beer cans into the canal.
Get this: They do. Every week, round our way.
It’s known as ‘royal visit syndrome’, the oft-rehearsed idea that the Queen thinks the smell of fresh paint is the standard fragrance of the world.
She’s never seen peeling wallpaper.
She’s never seen directions for a Golf Sale.
These campaign ads, intentionally or not, are a way of telling us that we can only really expect a cleaner world if people from other countries are over here watching the sporting events that you couldn’t get tickets for via Lord Coe’s wheel of misfortune method of distributing them.
[On that issue, just wait and see how many celebrities and half-celebrities and even people at the Jonathan Wilkes/Scouting For Girls/Alastair Campbell level of celebrity are in the stands during the Games and wonder whether they all got lucky in the ballot.]
But I digress, back to the collective clean-up that we are all being asked to take part in, regardless of whether we have a ticket for the Games or not.
One of the most patronising posters you might have seen on the tube, endorsed with a Mayor of London stamp, begins: “You know when your mum’s coming round to your flat and you give the place a quick tidy?
“Well, that’s exactly what we’re doing, except our ‘flat’ is London and our ‘mum’ is the rest of the world coming round…”
Of course, none of us could possibly understand what on earth they were suggesting unless they spelt it out in this simple language of a WKD “laaar-ha-haha just got one over the missus” advert.
But the truth is the Mayor of London and the local authorities – and ourselves – should feel a duty to use litter bins and not to draw on the walls (unless we are Banksy, who gets a free pass from Camden Town Hall) whether the Olympics are coming or not.
Let the tourists see our world the way it is, not some pretend London.