04 July, 2007

A visit to the O2

A visit to the O2 which was formerly known as the Millennium Dome.
I haven’t been in there for just over seven years so it was a bit strange going back. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. The main point of the O2 is to have a concert venue that with suitable commercial hyperbole is the biggest in Europe, although there is also a smaller arena which presumably is not. As always I am suspicious of superlatives, there being at least three smallest counties in England There has certainly been a lot of money spent on it with a large number of chain bars and restaurants, which I suppose are reliable. Chains predominate here, however there was a café called S & M although this was closed when I called. I dread to think what happens in there.

Even the bizarre range of sponsors are all international firms or linked to them. Why BMW, Nestle, and Vivitar are sponsors seems extremely bizarre. InBev and Pepsi Max are no doubt selling drinks and Credit Suisse is probably using up some numbered account that was last accessed 40 years ago and under Swiss banking law becomes the property of the bank.

I was quite impressed by the O2 in spite of myself, although the (chain) sushi bar had a very dirty floor. Clearly a lot of money has been spent here and it is arguably better than the Millennium Dome, which was glitzy where it should have been serious and serious where it should have been glitzy. The catering facilities are still as expensive as they always were but the hand driers in the lavatories were very effective: they almost blew your hands away.

There is a concession in this temple of Mammon to religion as there is a prayer room. I don’t know whether this has Christian facilities as I couldn’t find it. There were also facilities to make your own pop video.

So will it catch on – probably. London is under concert halled and new ones can only be better for everyone. But I wouldn’t want to live near it.

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