Shit London

Olympic city welcomes you

Text by Paul Davies

London 2012. A buzzing megalopolis careering towards international stardom as host for the impending Olympics. A showcase city on a mission to capture the world's imagination. Rather incongruously, the organisers have chosen the Clash's punk paean, "London Calling" as a rallying call to lure in the tourists. Like any giant urban sprawl, London is a city of contrasts. For each glamorous retail-avenue carefully positioned at its centre, is a plethora of largely neglected streets and alleyways. All offering an alternative impression of the city. Not so much a "true" London, but a Shit London, according to radio producer and keen photographer, Patrick Dalton.His recent book depicts city living at the margins - with a healthy dose of irreverence. Following a lineage of British anarchy, from Guy Fawkes, the Sex Pistols and recent riots, Dalton's roving eye has captured a city that insists on continuing despite the odds. Natural acts of comedy happening on a daily basis. "London looks like this amazing shiny city. I wish I lived in that city," he smirks. "There was this Facebook group, "Secret London." We were urged to share our favourite places in the city. For a joke, I started a similar group and uploaded five images one Friday. By Monday, 400 people had joined and began contributing." Two months later, a gallery came knocking. From that, the book. Next up, the annual Shit London awards. To be held at a grotty pub and commemorated with a mug. "I'd like people to see this city in a different light. To appreciate the unloved parts." With seven years of snapshots and enthusiastic submissions from contributors, you might think this urban safari warrior has London covered. What's next? "I just got back from Bangkok. Must have photographed every street I walked past." Thailand, be warned, is heading your way. §

Shit London is published by Portico.

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