Monday, December 18, 2006
Let's all giggle at the Dome The O 2 website OK, now let's all giggle at the Before I go any further, I should make the following clear: I have a very big soft spot for the Millennium Dome It'll be great to have it open and accessible again, even as a massive bland "entertainment hub" I still think that The O 2 is a bloody stupid name for a building The O. 2 website [Or The O2 as they call it, because the site can't cope with subscripts] Don't giggle at the virtual tour, because that's rather good. Ignore all the stuff about booking tickets too. Let's concentrate instead on the text on the information pages. The following are genuine quotes. Honest. Straight up. "The O2 will be Europe’s leading entertainment destination – a new city-within-a-city for Londoners and the world to explore and enjoy." It's a big tent on a reclaimed gasworks, for heaven's sake. Let's not overdo the hyperbole. "The O2 will be a leisure and hospitality experience of a kind never before known in the UK." The Dome was a leisure and hospitality experience of a kind never before known in the UK. This is not necessarily a good thing. "When the world’s best performers do London, they have to Do The O2 Arena." Er, no they don't. They might do Wembley, or do Earl's Court, or do the back room of a pub in Camden. They don't have to do you. "The Entertainment District will surround The O2 Arena, in a street as long and as wide as Bond Street. Occupying 60% of The O2’s floor space, The Entertainment District will host numerous restaurants, bars, leisure attractions and retail outlets. It will be open day and night and will soon become one of London’s favourite entertainment destinations in it’s own right." So, most of the new O2 will be the usual collection of chain-brand high street clones? Tapas, vodka, cappucinos and handbags. That does indeed sound world-beating. And do let's please try to ignore the rogue apostrophe, OK? "With such a mix of performers, a world-class music venue, numerous restaurants, bars and shops, a cinema and exhibitions we asked ourselves what more could you add to such an incredible cocktail of entertainment? Lots of ice. So when you Do The O2, Do The Ice Rink" So, The O2 is aimed at visitors who still think ice rinks are cutting edge. Is this really the peak entertainment experience that the 21st century can bring? I think not. "The O2 Trivia: The O2 equals ten St Paul’s Cathedrals" Presumably that's in volume, not in status. I think you'll find in reality that one St Paul's Cathedral outranks ten O2s. At least. "There really could be no more perfect place to site a major entertainment destination than on the banks of the River Thames at Greenwich." You know, I think there could. Piccadilly Circus, for example. Or even Birmingham. "Getting there: The O2 is an interesting walk from historic Greenwich, while various cycle routes lead up the peninsular to The O2 where there are cycle racks available" Erm, 'interesting' is an understatement. Have you ever tried walking or cycling up the Thames Path from Greenwich to the Dome? The route passes along a series of alleyways and deserted riverside quays, round the back of large industrial units and past some distinctly smelly belching chimneys. It's wonderfully atmospheric, but I wouldn't recommend it a) alone, b) after dark, c) to the O2's target audience. In fact, can I just criticise this map for a minute? How utterly useless and misleading is this map? The main road shown (the A13) doesn't appear to link to North Greenwich because someone has forgotten to draw in the Blackwall Tunnel. The same symbol is used for 'Bus', 'River' and 'TFL' (whatever a 'TFL' is - I think they mean 'tube station'). Some of the DLR is shown, but not all. "East India Docks" (sic) may be the closest DLR station to the Dome, but you'd have to swim across the Thames to reach it. London City Airport has been unceremoniously dumped on top of Bow Creek, with just a small arrow hinting that it's really rather further away. And where do the buses actually stop? There's no clue either on the map or underneath in the text. This is a nigh perfect example of how not to draw a useful map. </rant> "When you come to The O2, you’ve got to Do Peninsula Square - as soon as you arrive, you’ll be amazed by the vibrancy of the outside space and surrounding area at The O2. It covers an area the size of Leicester Square and will be just as exciting." Just as exciting as Leicester Square, eh? I don't think we're going to be "amazed by the vibrancy" of a tramp-infested litter-strewn scrappy patch of grass swarming with tourists eating over-priced ice cream and rubbery pizza. "To maintain a safe and comfortable environment The O2 will not permit any action that may be perceived as intimidating – these include Gathering in large groups" Surely the whole point of the O2 is that people gather in large groups. Are security guards seriously going to shut down the cinema after five people have entered? This looks to me like a poorly-worded catch-all rule to bar undesirables at the whim of management. "The removal of clothing inside The O2 is forbidden so shirts and shoes should be worn at all times" Justin Timberlake's opening concert on July 4th is going to be a bit dull then, isn't it? No wardrobe malfunctions allowed. And some of us don't wear shirts all the time, you know (like most of the female population, for example). "For legal reasons alcohol may only be consumed within premises that hold a relevant license, customers must stay within the demise of the premises where they bought the drink." Demise of the premises? You've made that up, haven't you. It may be an amusing error, but it's wholly inappropriate on the website of such an important redevelopment project. This entire online presence appears to have been cobbled together by PR apprentices who should have known better, and whose proof-reading skills and quality procedures are at best questionable. "The venue is set for a July 2007 opening" I do hope that the venue is better than its website. No really, I do. But we'll see, won't we?