Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Credit Crunch
THAT cardboard Canary Wharf was really freaking me out last week.
If you didn’t see it, it was an art installation on the ground floor of One Canada Square, part of the seventh annual Green Canary Day.
In terms of art, there’s also some pleasant nobbly wooden things that look like they would be nice to sit on. I like them, just as I’ve liked so much of the art in the tower over these long years.
There was that lanky animal that looked like Donnie Darko.
The tall red writing on the window that said… I can’t remember what.
Were there wicker statues once? Who’s that observant? And besides, the installations are not there to be remembered, rather to be enjoyed fleetingly.
The cardboard collection, though, stuck in my mind. The entire estate, from Canada Square to Canary Riverside, rendered in clean, dry cardboard. A perfect representation or our concrete and steel world, with HSBC, Citigroup, Barclays, all of them. Lehman Brothers. Made flimsy. And small.
I saw them putting it out. When was it? Must have been a couple of weeks ago. Around the time Lehmans was collapsing like a soggy box in the rain.
It reminded me of the map room in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, only when the sun is directed through the staff of Ra, it wouldn’t show the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. It would show which company is next.
Maybe they should get the model out again so we can stamp on the building of the firms that go under. Pour on a bit of water and get someone’s pointed, hard shoe to crush it into the ground.
Of course, I might just be reading a bit too much into such an omen. But I can’t walk through Canary Wharf at the moment without feeling I’m part of a particularly telling newspaper photo illustrating the economic crisis.
Under the down- down-down-down Reuters ticker stand men in suits reading papers headlined “Meltdown��? or “Chaos��? or “World of pain��?.
On the TV news at the moment they still don’t seem to have any modern footage of wild-eyed traders, so they are making do with old stuff.
“The worst day since 87,��? they kept saying, showing moustachioed men in red and white shirts, under numbers markered on whiteboards and War Games-era technology.
Have the banks all got together and agreed not to let any news teams onto their trading floors? Have they decided it was bad PR to have endless shots of them looking oafish and panicked?
Maybe from now on in investment banks reporters will have to be embedded, kept in a green zone away from the real action.
So we’ll never see the footballers’ haircuts and luxurious waistlines of your modern trader having a panic attack into an iPhone.
Perhaps instead the TV news could focus on the cardboard city. And if you look close enough, right on the floor, we specks of dust might see ourselves.