A soliloquy on the Olympics, from a Newham resident

When the Reclaim Shakespeare Company performed recently at the Counter-Olympics ‘Whose Games? Whose City?’ march, we met a most wondrous woman, Gwyn. She, a local resident of Newham, was appalled by Tower Hamlets council’s attempt to ban any speeches against the Olympics in the local park. So she turned to Shakespeare – Julius Caesar, to be precise – to express her thoughts in the style of Mark Antony. Her moving speech is copied below.

We would like to express Shakespearean solidarity with Gwyn, and all London residents whose lives have been so sorely disrupted by the Olympics.

Friends, Londoners, Neighbours, lend me your ears!
I come to praise Olympics, not complain.
We are told that good comes from regeneration.
If there is harm, it must be buried here.
So let it be with the Olympics
I must not speak of the Clay Lane evictions
The Games were more important than their homes.
Nor closure of a legal site for travellers
Should such as they imagine they have rights?
Soldiers from the Afghan war returning
do not need a family holiday.
Youngsters should not really mind a curfew.
Some mates had ASBOs. You’re all equal now.
Leyton Marshes, Wanstead Flats and Epping
are tidier with greenery cleared away.
People who rely on public transport
get much advice that’s summarised as “Tough!”  
Visitors who seek a healthy diet
may feast on coca-cola and big macs.
For these, we know, are honourable firms
Because we have no housing shortage here
The Olympic Village is sold to Abu Dhabi
For these, we know, are honourable firms
Because the deficit is not a national problem
big corporations can be let off tax.
For these, we know are honourable firms
We’ve missiles placed on roofs for our protection
and many, many guns protect our streets.
If we are killed it’s called “collateral damage”
or “friendly fire” or “blue on blue” mistake.

If we must only speak good of Olympics
let’s plan the future, how it yet could be.
A permanent site. No four year competition.
Why not in Athens where it all began?
Let all the states, like ours, that spent a fortune
competing where to hold it here or there,
instead donate, repair, rebuild what’s needed.
No fireworks needed, flashy show, or hubris
But try to gain one hundred days of peace.    

– Gwyn

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