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August 07, 2006

Comments

Katy

Strong words, Sam! But your post is funny and also recognisable, and you had to structure it somehow. There is, of course, lots more than that to this place.

London is a multicultural Heaven, and not just a nightclub one. Hannah Pool in yesterday's Evening Standard, for example, wrote about her experience of Sydney as a largely monocultural city where any sighting of a black face is rare. Now, I can't say; I've never been to Sydney; but in the USA, where I came from all those aeons ago as a teenager, you still don't see anything like the number of mixed-race people you do here, or happily mixed couples where no one's having to fight for the right to go out together. People can just be friends, here. Or, if not friends, good neighbours. My neighbourhood is full of Turkish food, Indian food, I live in a block that's half Hassidic Jewish and till recently was commuting from there to a job where everyone was Bengali. My kids' friends are of every race and culture represented hereabouts; no one thinks anything of it.

London is a place where, by and large, people get along all together. That's what made the bombs so shocking. And I'm sure you can say the same for the rest of England, because (unlike the Americans, for example) the English really do seem to be distingished by an amazing capacity for tolerance.

This tolerance manifests itself as laissez-faire. It has made them the nation of shopkeepers they so proudly are. In other words, the English don't really CARE what you do as long as you don't get in anybody's way. It's the reason they have the 'tradition' of 'English eccentrics'. Because basically if you want to wear Argyll jumpers and spend your whole life repairing Grandfather clocks while reciting the Book of Revelations backwards, you can.

In America you'd have everyone you knew telling you what to wear, what to eat, what exercises to do, new research on which book of the Bible to recite, telling you you need anti-depressants, sending you magazine articles about some new dietary supplement for Argyll-wearing after 65.

And it's also the reason that copper's clubbing the way he is. And it's the reason shopkeepers are so surly - they just don't care... and the council never answers the phone... and the buses are so crap... and the Post Office loses half its letters... and the Home Office, don't get me started...

Well, you know what I mean! And there's more. I haven't even got onto the great - and endangered - English tradition of dissent - of which London is packed full of reminders. Plaques on walls everywhere for Shelley, Blake, Milton, the Pankhursts, Orwell. Wat Tyler was executed for his rebellion: did he think he'd be the subject of multiple street signs 700 years on?

I do love it here.

Katy

Sorry! Got into my argument there.

littlebear

Hi Katie,

Things have changed a whole lot in the US in the last thirty years. I bet England is great, but not because it's not the US. Youknow?

"People can just be friends, here. Or, if not friends, good neighbours. My neighbourhood is full of Turkish food, Indian food, I live in a block that's half Hassidic Jewish and till recently was commuting from there to a job where everyone was Bengali. My kids' friends are of every race and culture represented hereabouts; no one thinks anything of it".

Sounds like my neighborhood. We have over 27 languages spoken in the local Middle School, and EVERYBODY is mixed. Well, just about.

molasses

I usually live in London but have been posted out to Budapest with work for the last six months.

Its a great city and in many ways the lifestyle here is infinitely preferable to London.

However, I do miss the English and their 'whatever' attitude. I'd agree with Katy that it seems to add so much colour to English society. The result is a kind of anarchic chaos peculiar only to England.

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