While at the East London Advertiser, we regularly used a good photographer called Mike Wells. I know Mike very well; he’s a had a colourful career, including a stint as a UN elections monitor abroad.
He used to live in the Clays Lane housing co-operative that overlooked the former Eastway cycle circuit, which was a beautifully wild little spot next to the A12 by pass. He lived there, in fact, until it was demolished to make way for the Olympics.
Throughout the planning and construction phases of the 2012 Games, Mike has been (or hopes to have been) a Grade A pain in the arse to Seb Coe & co. He’s not against the Olympics per se, but rather he’s angry with the way they have gone about it.
Over the past five years, he and a few other friends who run the excellent Games Monitor website have ploughed through thousands of reports and other papers obtained under the Freedom of Information Act about the levels of contamination and remediation at the Olympics site. Mike, from his home in Clays Lane, even used to photograph site workers using their Geiger counters looking for radioactive material.
With Mike’s help, I’ve written several articles about this contamination. The first one was for the Sunday Express in 2006. It’s here (please forgive the cringeworthy second word in the intro – I was a mere cub reporter then!):
In February 2010, we ran this piece about how a plastic sheet had been laid 3ft below the entire Olympic site to mark out potentially contaminated land for future developers, thus possibly affecting land and resale values.
Four months later, Ian Griffiths of the Guardian tied all these pieces together with his own investigation here.
Over the past few weeks, campaigning Mike Wells has brought all these strands together and highlights a couple of the articles in a new short film that stars Hackney lawyer Bill Parry-Davies and Hackney author Iain Sinclair.
Sinclair reads from his new book Ghost Milk in which he laments the loss of east London’s former wasteland and the arrival of an ugly corporatism (which has its nadir in Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the main stadium). As Sinclair talks, Bill plays his saxophone. The film, Gold Dust, lasts seven minutes. You can read Mike’s blurb about it here and view it below.