Mile End, East End, Geylang. And Le Corbusier

Just recalled this epic song, Mile End, from the movie Trainspotting. Mile End is of course, right next to East End in East London. No way am I saying Mile End or East End is just like Geylang, but … …

This is a hilarious video clip set to the song. Actually watched this video years ago when I went on a Trainspotting soundtrack blitz after posting about two other songs from the soundtrack here:
A Perfect Deep Blue Day.

The clips are so fitting for the lyrics. I really liked Pulp then at 21. And Brit-pop-rock.

Pulp Mile End Music Video Edit With Lyrics Jarvis Cocker Trainspotting London:

We didn’t have nowhere to live
We didn’t have nowhere to go
‘Til someone said
“I know this place off Burditt Road”

It was on the fifteenth floor
It had a board across the door
It took an hour to prise it off
And get inside

It smelt as if someone had died
The living room was full of flies
The kitchen sink was blocked
The bathroom sink not there at all

Ooh, it’s a mess alright
Yes it’s, Mile End

And now we’re living in the sky
I never thought I’d live so high
Just like Heaven
If it didn’t look like Hell

The lift is always full of piss
The fifth floor landing smells of fish
Not just on Friday
Every single other day

Below the kids come out tonight
They kick a ball and have a fight
And maybe shoot somebody
If they lose at pool

Ooh, it’s a mess alright
Yes it’s, Mile End

Nobody wants to be your friend
‘Cause you’re not from ’round here, ooh
As if that was
Something to be proud about

The Pearly King of the Isle of Dogs
Feels up children in the bogs
Down by the playing fields
Someone sets a car on fire

I guess you have to go right down
Before you understand just how
How low
How low a human being can go

Ooh, it’s a mess alright
Yes it’s, Mile End

Where’s Le Corbusier when you need him…



His Unité d’Habitation provided the archetype of the modular, concrete, public housing blocks so influential and prevalent across the globe in the post-war decades (including our own HDB in Spore), a seeming perfect solution to the need to provide affordable public housing for the masses. Which first-year architecture student had not read of his triumphant monograph declaring his vision of a utilitarian utopia of self-contained vertical cities of massive concrete blocks containing thousands of apartment units. But within a decade, the clean concrete lines of his utilitarian utopias soon turned into grey and cracked dysfunctional dystopias; self-contained vertical cities became inner city concrete jungles infested with chavs and crime. His Modulor Man probably became a crack peddler within the labyrinths of perfectly proportioned concrete corridors.





Brutal(ist) indeed…


5 thoughts on “Mile End, East End, Geylang. And Le Corbusier

  1. East End is quite hot these last few years. Got a sweet Scottish stuffed sheep with bedroom slippers for ears at Spitalfields and I like Shoreditch for 2nd round drinks. Don’t really like the City after 12. I still wouldn’t want to live at East End though a lot of friends recommended it for investment.

  2. Hi.

    Buy Geylang. But I am biased of course. And really should give full disclosure of vested interest…

    The old docklands at the Isle of Dogs probably held special interest for me, from the stories my father told of his long ago ambition of taking his commodities/sugar trading career to what was then the Wall Street and hallowed ground of the agricultural trading world, the august trading houses and warehouses along the banks of the Thames from the Sugar Quay to the Docklands.

    Whether piously influenced (or mistakenly seeking approval), I carried out the prodigal son thing and once even interviewed with the likes of ED&F Man, Czarnikow, Louis Dreyfus, towards a respectable mercantile career.

    But it was really the Bloomsbury area where I traversed around the most, once upon a long time ago, when I was vacillating between 3 disciplines and 4 campuses in the vicinity, at a loss on the direction to take and decision to make. Architecture, law, philosophy… And ironically, the final route did not even lie along any of these ways. The Gordon and Tavistock Square gardens provided much solace and refuge then.

    But that was a lifetime ago.

  3. Eh, why not Cargill?

    Hmm, I’ll sound like a bourgeois scum if I declare I like High St Ken. It’s for sentimental reasons – spent a good summer there sunning myself there in the park, and had very close friends staying at that Bayswater / Notting Hill / Cromwell area between the late nineties to early noughties. And the Kensington museums are lovely. Possibly now without the attachments, it’s Marylebone or Canary Wharf for everyday living, and the City for wandering, especially Temple. Have you read Gaiman’s Neverwhere? It’s brilliant, especially if you’ve feelings for London. The first time I saw Canary Wharf in 2003, it was almost dead. I love it now – especially for the connection to LCY, which I prefer to LHR.

    On Bloomsbury, I’d great expectations, and so was a little underwhelmed. My fault. Ahem, I also like the right bank, especially Marais more than the left bank…especially if I consider Shakespeare & co as one of the bouquinistes and part of the river instead of left bank. Everyone including myself thought I would like the left bank. This is when I should do the french face shrug :)

    Anyway, to balance the bourgeois scum impression, hah, think I must be one of the few people our cohort who don’t own a property. Yes, I agree with you on Geylang. Though I’d been dissuaded in 2003, it was more from a fear of commitment in general. When GBP crashed, I did almost sign for something in East London…backed out at the last minute from fear of changing regulations.

  4. Not Cargill for the same reason why not Bunge – Father told me more about the British and European agri trading houses when I was young, and he probably dealt less with firms from the Americas. But having said that, I would have liked to interview with Koch Energy. (Oh, I did)

    Can’t say I have feelings for London […] No, I never read Gaiman. For my formative years on ‘weird fiction/macabre/epic horror’ reading, I think I was caught up with the classics first, Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Hector Hugh Munro, and then Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker…

    Heh, the gauche-y left bank. Between the artists/thinkers/marxists or the bourgeois. So, apart from choosing either left bank or right bank, is it going to be Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore, or neither?
    :) Would still like to do a Sartre and commandeer a table, a coffee and a croissant for an afternoon and a day, holding philo court at my own coffeetable and expounding away, or scribbling down existential thoughts into notebooks.

    But I wouldn’t worry so much about left bank vs right bank; the bohemian socialists and intelligentsia in the Left Bank/Paris/France have long been merging with the bourgeois. In fact, there is a term for the latest metamorphosis of this half-breed bohemian-bourgeoisie: the Bobo or bourgeois bohème.

    We’re a long way from 1789 and the Bastille now…

    And actually, all I’m focused on right now, is religiously doing my Physio-Pilates, my swimming and water therapy, my stretching and strengthening, and all towards getting my doozy back strong enough to withstand the 14hrs flight from Singapore-to-Paris, by the next few months. After all, the tickets are already there and will expire on 31st Dec. Would be a shame to waste them. :)

  5. Neither. I don’t know why I’d the impression that you didn’t think much of the existentialists. Came across Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex in the school library when I was 13, and so moved onto Sartre for a month or two. I think I prefer German philosophers, though the French ones are interesting. Just Paris? I’d love to go back to Côte d’Émeraude, contemplate those tidal islands, tasty lambs and oysters and then wander inland in search of Brocéliande. Envious – have expiring miles and a hotel voucher, but lack your energy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s