Letter from London
London: A city on the move
If anybody talks to you in Cockney rhyming slang, run a mile. Or at least walk, as its by far the best way to travel in London. The editor reports on the state of his adopted home town, one of the most multicultural cities in the world
AS SUMMER FADES into autumn, Londoners seem to be unusually at peace with themselves. The transport system remains a constant irritation. Indeed, riders of the ?tube? underground railway would not be surprised if the driver suddenly announced: ?Will everbody kindly get off. This train is being send to a museum.? If travelling by car, do not expect to move faster than 10km an hour, or the speed of a horse and cart.
Yet the 6.9 million inhabitans of this metropolitan area do seem to be increasingly proud of their city. Partly this may be the accidental effect of the Prime Minister Tony Blair. ‘Our Tone has the singular advantage of not being Mrs. Thatcher. The new devolutionary process includes a really genuine London mayor. Canditates a millionaire novelist, an Oscar-winning actress and a left-wing parliamentary expert on newts. Since the Scots have a new parliament, the Welsh have an assembly and everbody wants the Irish peace process to succeed, Londoners have been pleased to discover that nobody is blaming them for anything, at least for the time blaming.
It is also some time since Londoners have been bombed, or blitzed; a tradition going back to 64AD when an Essex girlBoudiccafirst put the Roman to fire and the sword so badly that archaeologists can still see the layer of of soot. Come to think of it, we haven’t had any genuine plagues for over 400 years, either. Most of ours problems are the usual modern ones: drugg addiction, crime and increasing level of gun ownership. As a result, the police, known as the Fuzz, or the Busies, are probably not quite as a nice as the legends suggest.