There is something sordid, concealed in the sanitised history of Covent Garden as written by its current custodians. The area was once the red light district for London. I found this out after I was asked to tap into the heritage of the area last April when we first moved into our store on the Piazza. Our nervous landlords, fearful of a reprise of the Baby Gaga episode which had preceded our arrival, wanted me to tap into something more wholesome. Like fruit and veg ice cream in honour of Covent Gardens greener glories.
But dig a bit deeper beyond the luxury brands, the trashy tourism and glossy veneer, in the 18th century this place was Sodom and Gomorrah. What better way of honouring Covent Garden I thought, than a ‘Thawnography’ season to celebrate it’s carnal history with anatomical fruit and veg lollies and naked ice cream sushi served on the freshly toned buttocks of a nubile young man in a reversal of Japanese tradition.
Clearly my ideas sent them into a panic because before the paint had dried on our humble emporium, I was hauled before the authorities and told that if I did anything that affected the ‘share price’ of the company through my nefarious icecapades, then I’d be melted down and turned into one of the cobbles in the piazza that about two people every weekend break their ankles on.
I couldn’t quite see how a tiny ice cream parlour was going to cause a crash in the share price of a zillion pound property company, but then this wasn’t the first time we’d run into problems in the area.
You might think we go looking for trouble, but sometimes trouble comes looking for us. As soon as we opened our Maiden Lane store, Westminster Council closed the road for the equivalent of Nato bombing missions for the duration of last years Libyan campaign. This euphemism for road works killed business and meant down town Tripoli would have been a more peaceful location than war torn Covent Garden. A months work became six, rubble and dust piled up in the street and I threatened to up the body count by turning the trench in the middle of Maiden Lane into London’s first mass grave where local councillors would be buried head to toe in a line. Face down of course, so the fuckers couldn’t crawl back out.
Because nobody could see past the rubble into this conflict zone, we flew a flag of surrender telling people we were still open. This of course, this broke planning regs despite there having been a flag pole outside the building for 80 years.
It was then the turn of the jackbooted goose-stepping food fascists from (the now dubbed) Breastminster Council who banned (then unbanned) Baby Gaga breast milk ice cream. Yes you can drink yourself to death in Westminster but breast milk – STOP! Such cretinous stupidity must be a genetic disorder passed from person to person through staff inbreeding amongst public service workers. As I valiantly attempted to tell them before they caused a storm in a D cup, there has never been a single recorded death in thousands of years of humanity on planet earth from breast milk.
Next came the Olympics. We had planned the ‘Doh-lympics’ with 5 doughnut rings in a glorious satire of the fact that some of the most artery clogging brands in the universe are sponsoring the worlds biggest ever sporting event. Our line was ‘London 2012, The Frying Games’. Our motto, ‘lower, slower, fatter.’ You may detect a theme developing here, but needless to say our type of satire didn’t travel well amongst the local oligarchy. What chance did we have of running with this? Fat chance.
After being whipped, licked and sucked to within an inch of our lives this was followed by a penetrating Vaseline free 65% rent increase. When we got the news my brain froze to the point where I wanted to top myself in chocolate sauce and hundreds and thousands, flagellating myself in barbed wire underpants on the cold, unforgiving cobbles of Covent Garden.
On top of this, of all the places in his Kingdom he could have gone, God had chosen to urinate perpetually on Covent Garden ever since they announced the drought. Couldn’t he have gone behind a burning bush or something?
Finally, we had the numerous police visits from Scotland Yard as they banned me from going to Covent Garden on the day of the State Opening of Parliament on the grounds of ‘national security’ and attempted to ban me from going within 100 metres of any Olympic venue using the same pathetic justification. I was subsequently called a terrorist at a tenants meeting when the management said one of my political protests ‘…could escalate into violent behaviour, public disorder, ending with a realistic bomb threat.’ Bomb? What sort of bomb does your average ice cream man have in his freezer I asked? Nuclear bomb? Time Bomb? Sex Bomb? Ice cream bombe?
You can’t even mention the words ‘choc ice’ these days without somebody taking offence.
So do me a flavour. When did we become a fascist police state? The bureaucracy has taken over the democracy. It’s strangling creativity, innovation and freedom of speech with rules and regulations that Hitler would have flinched at. Don’t be surprised if you see Angela Merkel chillaxing with Swastika wafers and a new fascist cocktail in honour of the authorities before we go underground later in the year. We might even wear our sprinkles moustaches just to send the local Gestapo into their own meltdown before they sanitise and sterilise Covent Garden of all genuine creativity.
They might be offended. But not half as offended as I am by the Great Licktators who keep the red light of totalitarianism flashing in Covent Garden.
Matt O’Connor, 26th July 2012