Wednesday, 20 February 2013

why london might not be better than new york and paris much longer

White Brits are leaving London, says the BBC. This is awful news. The reason is pretty simple: London is too expensive (there are other factors, but they are minimal comparatively). The only people who are prepared to live in the few crappy bits left, in the conditions you have to live in if you're living in London without a good job, tend to be immigrants.

I simplify, radically. But the thing is, ever since I moved to London I have been quite proud about opining boringly that what makes the city better than Paris, or New York, is the mixed nature of its housing. Go 200 yards from my flat in one direction and you are in a ropy estate. Go 200 yards in another direction and you are in a street of houses only kleptocrats can buy. This is the same all over, and it means it's very hard for bits of London to fall into real disrepair - there's always a few members of the establishment, or children of the establishment, around, and that's enough. Shouldn't be, but it is. This massively annoyed Madonna, which showed how much she knows. She pointed at places she thinks are rough but she has no idea what the Parisian outskirts are like, or the rough parts of NY.

If mixed-housing, cheek-by-jowl living disappears, if we stop rubbing along with other people who have very different lives, if we become a Paris or NY of a pretty-bits-plus-ghettos, then that would be a tragedy. I think. No one much cares what I think, but it's been happening for a few years now, and I hate it.

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