BACK STAGE AT PEPPERMINT IGUANA HQ: Gigs, Festivals, Parties, CDs, Books, Protests, travels, photography and Cardiff City FC

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


The Apple Market, the crafty centre of Covent Garden

Today I managed to squeeze in a seminar on surveillance in the workplace and shopping in Camden and Covent Garden.

Although the seminar I was attending did not start till lunchtime, I headed up to London nice and early so I could try and finish off my Christmas shopping while I was at it.

First stop was Camden, one of my favourite parts of London. I think that Camden has been overtaken by corporate culture and has lost its old spirit, though in truth my vision of a market run by punks and rebels, for punks and rebels, with a healthy music scene, probably has not really existed for at least 20 years, if ever. I still like it though; the market and the shops around the lock are like one big permanent Glastonbury Festival market, with loads of wacky, crazy, freaky stuff on sale, from clothes and furnishings to CDs and ‘smoking paraphernalia’. It is very expensive though, and all the shop/stall holders are card-carrying capitalists. I would rather give my money to them than some trans-national chain though.

My favourite book shop (Compendium) and a cool CD shop, the name of which escapes me, disappeared from the high street some time ago. On this visit I found that a wicked little CD shop in the Lock had turned into a clothes shop. I still managed to sort out a few things for Christmas.

Then, it was on to the main reason for my trip to London, a seminar run by the Institute of Employment Rights on ‘Surveillance In The Workplace’. This might sound boring, but I am horrified and fascinated by the thought of a big brother society. Surveillance is a problem with any employer, but it soon became clear that the union members I represent have it easy. We were presented with outrageous tales of monitoring and snooping on staff, the call centre industry in particular was singled out for disturbing case studies. All food for thought, tying in with latest moves around ID cards, CCTV, tracing people through mobile phones, storing peoples e-mails…. All very Orwellian.

After a few hours of thought provoking civil liberty stuff, it was back to dehumanising consumerism and more shopping, this time around Covent Garden. The market in Coven Garden has more of an ‘arts and crafts’ vibe to it than Camden, it reminded me of Greenwich Market. It was still a bit tasty though, with the price tags aimed at the American tourists that come to indulge in theatre land.

I particularly liked the buskers, a very high calibre of opera singers, string quartets and jugglers on unicycles. The hustle and bussle is quite welcoming, particularly with christmas in in the air as well.

After hunting down a few reasonable priced gifts for the Iguana Girls, it was off to Paddington and home.


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