Wednesday, July 17, 2019
For today's post I need a swear word to use, one your browser won't censor and your network won't ban. So I've invented one. It's the name of the relevant peninsula, anagrammed.
chewering (tʃuːəːrɪŋ) adjective & adverb - vulgar slang
used to express anger, annoyance, contempt.
The Tide is the latest 'attraction' to grace the Greenwich Peninsula, an elevated walkway leading from the central square to the banks of the Thames. It opened a couple of weeks ago and has had all the tastemakers salivating because it sounds like it ought to be fantastic. It is not. It is a chewering disappointment.
The Tide begins on the far side of Peninsula Square, replacing the craft brewery outlet that used to stand here. What a chewering liberty. Look beyond the temporary sculptures and it presents a bold visual statement - multiple treetopped platforms supported on splayed white stilts. Access is via a single long ramp up one side (or there's a lift, but that wasn't operational on the two occasions I've been so best assume the lift is chewered).
A sign warns visitors not to take hot drinks or open food onto The Tide because it might stain the walkways, so expect a chewering security guard to watch over you as you climb. Zigzag round to the front and you'll be able to look down over the heart of the peninsula development, taking in the marketing pavilion, the line of sponsors' flags and the main teflon tent from a whole new angle. It's novel to see everything from above and for nothing, given that the chewers running "Up At The O2" normally charge £30.
Round the next corner is a large stepped terrace, which ought to be ideal for sitting down with a tray of noodles and a coffee except, as we've already ascertained, that's not allowed. An upper level leads off from the rear, so visitors are drawn to clamber up to see what's there, except the subsequent walkway is a brief dogleg which ends at a chewered lift so they swiftly return. The entire upper level, it turns out, is chewering pointless.
The actual connection is at first floor level, along a stripy walkway between brightly painted metal structures rising from the ground. These are in fact ventilation units and electrical cabinets, because The Tide is merely leading you above a depressingly bleak amenity corridor. The architects weren't able to build apartment blocks along this strip because the Jubilee line runs directly underneath, so they added The Chewering Tide to try and get some value from this wasted real estate.
The placemakers have a way of expressing this concept, which is to say "The Tide activates spaces above and below to provide a layered network of recreation, culture, and wellness." This is of course chewered-up nonsense, but no doubt excites the selfie-centred target audience. One particular bench even has a plaque encouraging visitors to download a wellness app, then "meditate here and breathe in the view". The view is actually of a steel and glass canyon watched over by college students and part-sold apartments, so don't chewering rush.
An inadequate number of birch trees have been planted around the walkways, growing in minimal soil within small square beds. These beds have thin metal rims, raised just high enough to cause injury if you smash your foot into one, which is exactly what I managed to do. Thankfully I was wearing trainers - anything open-toed and I'd have been shouting something a lot stronger than "chewerin' hell!"
Also, watch your step. The architects have attempted to make The Tide more interesting by including several changes of height but the edges are indistinctly marked. In particular the final platform has a raised centre, almost invisibly ramped, which it's proven chewering easy to accidentally fall off. On my first visit impromptu safety notices had been erected, but on my second visit this patent design error was being cabled off by The Tide's team of blackshirted workmen, reducing the risk but also wrecking the design aesthetic.
By the time you reach the far end you'll have walked almost 200 metres, making comparisons to New York's High Line chewering pathetic. You'll also have spotted some very large works of art, two of these by Damian Hirst, as a distraction from the fact there's chewering little else to see. Then perhaps you'll drop down and stop off at one of the bars and restaurants that have moved in like wasps around a honeytrap. But bring plenty of dosh - my Basque friend confirms that the pintxos bar charges chewering rip-off prices.
Eventually The Tide will be "a 5-kilometre network of public spaces and gardens", but don't get your hopes up that it'll all be elevated. Most of it will be the existing walkway around the tip of the peninsula, slightly tarted up, coupled to a stripe of parkland anyone could have walked through years ago. Also don't be fooled into thinking this is London's "first ever riverside linear park" because that's chewering brandspeak too... indeed it's not all riverside, it's hardly linear and there's not much chewering park.
"It's beautiful isn't it?" said a middle-aged cyclist I met on the boardwalk. I wasn't so upbeat, but he absolutely was, and I was reminded that beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. He saw a shiny Insta-friendly walkway, exciting to explore, and I saw a pointless ill-designed pseudo-public space. Alas The Tide is nothing but a gaudy trifle, a shameless showboat for flogging flats, and all because the company that owns the peninsula are chewering greedy chewers.
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