GLOBAL RELIGIONS: Yet that said, London has to be one of the most multicultural cities on the planet. There are more interracial marriage here than anywhwere. There are West Indian, African, Chinese, and Asian Londoners, as well as representatives of virtually every country and religion in the world.
The curios thing about this is that, in London, Turks seem to be able to live next to Greeks without hurling lamb kebabs at them. Hindus and Moslems mix tolerably welland it may come as a surprise to know that there are probably more Irish in London than there are in Cork. The Brick Lane area is an extension of Bangladesh, while Camden Town would be mistaken for a Bangkok shopping area. Southall has signs in Gujarati. Notting Hill has one of the biggest annual carnivals outside Rio. The Australians ans New Zealanders of Earls Court has now been joined by South Africans and increasing companies of European youth. There has always been an Italian community, but French or German youth have not previously worked in the bars of the West End. One local pub is runby Colombians ans is a haven for South Americans.
Of course, there are still plenty of the proverbial cockney sparrows around, but if somebody comes up to you and says: ?Cor blimey, govnor!? followed by a lot of rhyming gibberish, he is either an actor or mad. Hold on to your wallet or purse. Alternatively, somebody wearing a shirt with a number on it and shouting ?erwego, erwego, erwegooo?, is not necessarely mad, or dangerous, just loud and politically incorrect, being a supporter of the ‘footie’, or soccer as it’s also known.
IMPROVED CUISINE: One thing that all this cultural diversity has done is vastly improve the food. Indian, Chinese, Thai, French, Italian, Japanese, African, Vietnamese, the choice is yours. What you don’t get is English, but ‘Pubgrub’ wich is often seriously bad news. Ye very olde traditional fish and chips’ is likely to be precisely that: ‘verye olde’.
Still, to Londoners, brought up in the 1950s and 1960s, the fact that you can buy a fresh yam or pineapple in Stroud Green Road is little short of a miracle. The same thing has happened with alcohol. No longer content with traditional warm ale, London youth now drink Czech lager straight from the bottle because they cannot be bothered to use a glass.
So the ‘old smoke’ is in a good shape on the whole. Although Her Majesty the Queen recently complained about the smell of onions from the unlicensed hamburger salesman outside Buckingham Palace, the ravens have not deserted the Tower and London Bridge hasn’t recently fallen down.
HORIZON- OCTOBER 1999 A CAPITAL LETTER FROM LONDONPAGE 11
Text: Dr. Chris Cragg Illustration: Biagio Mastroianni