But, just to put it in context, here’s what happenned a few months ago:
As widely reported, the ‘guerrilla’ graffiti artist Banksy has spray-painted a striking, large-scale image entitled 'Sweeping It Under The Carpet' on a wall in Chalk Farm, North London. According to the Independent, the work can be "seen as a metaphor for the West’s reluctance to tackle issues such as Aids in Africa." Banksy said that the piece was also about the democratisation of subjects in works of art: "In the bad old days, it was only popes and princes who had the money to pay for their portraits to be painted. This is a portrait of a maid called Leanne who cleaned my room in a Los Angeles motel. She was quite a feisty lady."
Then, the real go was for Charlie Brooker, in the Guardian (19/05/06), to have:
“Faced with a photo of a fly-encrusted child, the natural reaction should be to reach out and help. Instead, I start hearing Bono and Coldplay in my head. It's the most mind-mangling act of branding in history. I agree with what they are saying - I just wish THEY weren't saying it. How can I open my wallet while my fists are curled with rage? Take Bono's special edition of the Independent. It's incredibly annoying. You're trapped in a windowless room with the usual tedious sods who apparently represent British culture, except suddenly they're wearing halos and pulling earnest expressions at you.
The front cover is by Damien Hirst. He's lobbed some clipart together in the shape of a cross. Across this runs a stark headline: "NO NEWS TODAY". You jerk with astonishment. No news? How can this be? Help us Bono! We don't understand! Then you spot the footnote: "Just 6,500 Africans died today as a result of a preventable, treatable disease." You nod sadly. But before you can truly contemplate this harrowing injustice, you note that Damien Hirst's name appears on the cover not once, but twice - and suddenly the footnote takes on an even more tragic dimension. Because all those people died, yet Hirst still walks the Earth. You turn the page, weeping. Inside lurk about 2,000 adverts for the new Motorola RED phone. If you buy one, an Aids charity receives an initial payment of £10, followed by 5% of all further call revenues. This is clearly a good idea. But somehow, it's also annoying. For starters, the phone costs £149, of which £139 goes toward helping Motorola. Second, it's bright red and seems doomed to appeal to arseholes who want to add conspicuous compassion to their list of needless fashion accessories. I'm not just jabbering mindlessly on the phone in your train carriage - I'm saving fuckin' lives, OK?
Page 11: a piece of artwork by renegade graffiti artist Banksy, who has defaced a wall in Chalk Farm with a picture of a hotel maid. It's called Sweeping It Under the Carpet and "can be seen as a metaphor for the west's reluctance to tackle issues such as Aids in Africa" - or another example of Banksy's tireless self-promotion; take your pick. Banksy says the maid in question "cleaned my room in a Los Angeles motel ... she was quite a feisty lady". Presumably his next portrait will depict some poor minimum-wage sod, cleaning graffiti off a wall in Chalk Farm. Provided they're "feisty" enough to appeal to him.
On it goes, with one Bonoriffic chum after another: noted philanthropist Condoleezza Rice picks her top 10 tunes (including one by U2); Stella McCartney interviews Giorgio Armani, who has designed a pair of sunglasses for the RED charity range. These cost around £72 and will make you look like Bono: buy a 10 quid pair from Boots, bung the remaining £62 to an Aids charity and not only will you enjoy a warm philanthropic glow, no one's going to shout "wanker!" at you when you walk down the high street.
In summary: it's a worthy cause, rendered annoying - and that's annoying in itself. Bono genuinely cares, cares enough to risk ridicule, which is more than most people would do, myself included. It's just that, well it's bloody Bono, isn't it?”
Well… what can I say? Apart from the fact that I really enjoyed all the fuss made about it in the papers, not just the Indy’s and Guardian’s but our own Camden New Journal and Camden Gazzette, that is. I'm just a legal alien in London who happens to love her Camden - the Market, the Lock, the Canal, the Jazz Cafe', Primrose Hill, Belzise Park, the Northern Line, the Zoo, the parts of Regent's Park, Bloomsbury, Finchley Road, Tottenham Court Road, Marylebone, St. John's Wood and Swiss Cottage that are rightfully ours (and don't you ever, ever dare to call us "imperialists"... after all, this is where "Red Ken" got most of the votes that put him where he is!), Hampstead Heat, Highgate Village, the Royal Free, Kentish Town, King's Cross, Euston, Chalk Farm, the brand new Roundhouse and Banksy’s maid included... And... yes, the graffitti is still there 9 months on... from time to time someone 'graffittis' upon it, but someone else, maybe some poor minimum-wage sod (or Banksy himself; take your pick), cleans it off... Cheers!
Photos: my own.