Wednesday, 9 May 2012


The roofs of dwelling houses are now the ramparts of the city of London (51 degrees North, 0 degrees West). The guards patrol them as they patrol the battlements of Elsinore, speaking of wars past and wars to come.

 Now, sir, young  Fortinbras,
Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,
Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,
For food and diet, to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in't; which is no other,
As it doth well appear unto our state,
But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
So by his father lost; and this, I take it, 
Is the main motive of our preparations, 
The source of this our watch, and the chief head 
Of this post-haste and romage in the land.

So Horatio, in Act 1 Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Hamlet explains why the ramparts are patrolled late at night. For war is in the air.

The ramparts of state are now set upon the roofs of blocks of flats as the British military prepare for attacks from the east or from within the state of Britain itself by placing Surface to Air (SAM) missiles on the roofs of apartment buildings in east London.

Seventy nine days to go and the missiles are on the roofs. Seventy nine days to go and the gun boats are on the Thames. Seventy nine days to go and the alarums of war sound behind the five-ring clarions of the corporate festival of sport, The Olympics.

The modern version of the ancient Greek games, the Olympics, are BIG business. Ask MacDonalds, Cadburys and Coca Cola, who are the principal, exclusive food sponsors. Favouring fast-food, chocolate and sugar-rich drinks in the context of a sporting festival is particularly ironic.

How does it connect with military roof-furniture?

This strange blossoming of Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) roof gardens in late Spring flies in the face of the British military castigating enemy forces for the use of 'human shields' in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

There is, however, a long tradition, by military and para-military forces, of installing hardware and personnel on tops of flats. 

Numerous buildings in Ireland such as Rossville, Unity and Divis have sprouted roof gardens of communication aerials, gun emplacements, listening equipment, mortar devices, weaponry, observation towers and look-out posts in the service of war.

Are the Olympics simply war by other means?

While patrolling the ramparts of Elsinore, the guards see the ghost of Hamlet's father. Horatio begs him.

If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
O, speak! 

Do the military roof-gardeners beg the same foreknowing?

Hamlet: stage-play; William Shakespeare; 1602 (?)

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