London has changed in 30 years

I’ve now had three full days in London, which is enough time to form some impressions. 

First, it’s a much cleaner city than I remember from 30 years ago.  The cars burn their fuel more cleanly, the tube trains and buses are new and shiny, the underground is cleaner and better organized now that everything is automated, there are dozens of modernistic high-rises where there were once vacant lots or ugly 60s style buildings, and the City generally presents a more polished facade than I remember.  

Second, it’s a very international city.  I don’t know if it is more international than it was 30 years ago or not. Already then I preferred Yorkshire, where I lived, to London, which I visited.  The former was “English,” the latter was not.  By that I meant that, while the structures and sites were quintessentially English, even then the population was a mad mix of people. 

The mix has changed, though. Back in the very earliest 1980s, I remember lots of Italians and Swedes, as well as French and American people. Now, the non-English are Eastern European, African, Indian, Pakistani and Saudi.  There are definitely more women in hijabs and burqas than I remember from so many years ago, many of whom seem to while away their time shopping. And shopping. And shopping.  

In the tourist areas I’ve been visiting, all the employees seem to be foreign. I wonder where the English are working!

I suspect that I’d see bigger changes if I were to leave London. In those days, Yorkshire was ENGLISH. I understand that today, though, some of those old northern mill towns, such as Bradford, are majority Muslim. That would feel different indeed. 

What I haven’t seen is the Arabization of London.  Reading such writers as Melanie Phillips or Mark Steyn, one knows that this is taking place demographically, but it’s not at all obvious. 

If sharia is boiling away in England, it’s doing so under the service, with most Londoners easily able to ignore it. So what if more and more women wear hijabs?  It’s their right to do so after all. 

It won’t be until England and London reach demographic tipping points — assuming they do — that people will be roused to care.  Until then, they’ll continue to live as they have always lived, going to work, eating, shopping, and generally enjoying one of the world’s great cities. 

And great it is. I’d forgotten how much art, architecture and culture are packed into this one city. Standing in one place, behind St. Paul’s, one can spin around 180 degrees and see medieval architecture, Georgian architecture, Victorian architecture, and a fare additions from the 1980s and 21st century too. Look down, and one sees the outline of a vast Roman amphitheater that once occupied that same ground. It’s quite amazing for a student of history. 

More sightseeing tomorrow, of course. I don’t know yet what we’ll do, but I know it will be interesting (at least to Mom and Dad). 

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  • neocon hippie

    When I was in Amsterdam this spring I saw no evidence of the much-talked-about islamification of that city.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Most of the Islamic neighborhoods in major European cities are well outside of the city cores frequented by tourists and businessmen. In Paris, they are like a necklace of no-go zones outside of the beltway (“peripherique”). In Brussels, it is largely (not exclusively) in a big strip outside of the city center toward the main southern railroad station. 

    Just because they are out of sight, however, does not mean that they are out of mind (or out of their minds). 

  • Ymarsakar

    Islamic neighborhoods aren’t the “tourist” spots foreigners usually go to. It’s called local geography. The time when a person goes from one side of the streets into a whole new part of the city. It’s also called laws and bureacratic rule. Those mainly affect the local people, as the laws against foreigners aren’t as detailed or as numerous given foreigners stay there for a reason and then get out. They don’t have to deal with the law their entire lives. 

    Reading such writers as Melanie Phillips or Mark Steyn, one knows that this is taking place demographically, but it’s not at all obvious.

    Underhanded subversion processes never are. There are still people in America that believe the Democrats are just another political party. Hello, where have they been for the last 100 years.

  • Charles Martel

    A week ago, I found my dog, Lily, crouched under the camelia bushes out back. We went looking for her when we couldn’t find her in the usual places, which included two choice spots positioned the catch the morning sun.

    When dogs do that—go outside to hunker down in the plants—it means they’re very sick and responding to some ancestral need to go die in a quiet place.

    We took her to the vet and found that her spleen had ruptured, very likely from a tumor.

    We rushed her to an animal hospital and had her operated on. It seemed to go well; her spleen was removed and the surgeon said she was able to excise several small cancerous growths on Lily’s liver. The next afternoon she came back home to recover.

    She lasted one more day. The surgery had taken too much out of her, and the biopsy revealed that a virulent cancer had spread to other organs. With her heart failing, and her awareness now having retreated to some small, distant place, away from any recognition of us or her surroundings, we took her back to the hospital had her put to sleep.

    I mention this because until we found her under the bushes that morning there was no indication that things were wrong with her. Just the night before she had frisked, in her inimitably frantic boxer style, with my son. Only hours later, she began her descent into death.

    I have a suspicion that Britain is like my Lily. Sweden, too. As with cancer, there are often no overt indications that something is terribly wrong. But left untreated, the infection of Islam will pull them into a spiral they cannot wrest themselves from.

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  • Bookworm

    Charles: I’m so sorry about Lily. A dog’s love is so complete that, even though we know its life is transient compared to our own, when that dear doggy dies, it’s quite devastating.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I’m very sorry, Charles. We lost our golden retriever last autumn (cancer) and my lovely spouse is still devastated. They really are a big part of our daily family life, aren’t they.

    Are you going to get another dog? It’s hard when their life spans are only 10-15 years.

    There’s something noble about how dogs leave the “tribe” to die on their own with dignity, isn’t there? We noticed the same thing with our previous golden (also cancer).

    Your analogy is very apt. 

  • Jose

    It’s nice to hear that London is cleaner.  I know that traffic in the city center has been reduced since I was last there, 15 years ago.  I used to get a headache every time I made a day trip to London until I started taking sinus medicine on the train ride down.

  • Ymarsakar

    Animals don’t tend to show or even think about pain, since it is a weakness bred out by intense competition and predation. Thus even if they don’t feel well, they don’t dwell on it and continue to focus on whatever it is they focus on.

     People that own pets for many decades, one after another, can extrapolate what immortality would be like when all of one’s loved ones always die sooner.

     It’s also similar to the psychological trauma of combat casualties, although much less traumatic. People will do the best that they can to keep that which they love and want to protect, alive and safe. But sometimes the world won’t let you have your way and what you wish to protect will be taken aware or perhaps you will just be incapable of securing it.

     In the end though, love is worth the pain it brings. For if the positive aspects don’t outweigh the negative aspects, then it was not truly love. And in such cases, dogs that did not love their owners, would have given up much sooner.

     There is nothing valuable in human existence that is easy. Humans just don’t work like that. Humans can’t place value on things they obtain easily.