I have a confession to make. The name of this blog is probably, in reality, more than a little bit inaccurate. I don’t love to hate London at all. In fairness I love and hate London, and although its annoyances seem to become more obvious the longer I live here, it will probably always have a special place in my heart. Like I have said a million times before, its everything goes attitude is more than a little liberating after a childhood growing up in a small (minded) town, and it is an ethos that I have whole-heartedly embraced.
What is so interesting about London, though, is it is so diverse and vibrant, it and its inhabitants are almost impossible to pigeon-hole. Whereas other cities can be defined by an overwhelming majority when it comes to the ethnicity, political views or the wealth of its inhabitants (Bradford = Asian, Cambridge = well to do, Brighton = liberal), London is a mix-mash of everything and anything.
As an ex-sociology student, I find the society that we live in fascinating, all the more so because of my relatively sheltered upbringing. In a small town in the Midlands, “Equal Opportunities” was just a phrase that had little meaning to a population that was probably about 99% white. My studies at university did little to open my eyes – let’s face, most of my lecturers were white and middle-class, and, although they of course touched on “minorities”, everything that they said was from a white middle-class perspective. Even now when I pick up books about society many authors seem to forget about how people from other cultures and classes experience life here. Watching the English by Kate Fox is a good example. Yes, it is an amusing read and I recognise a lot of its observations in myself and the people around me. But, then again, I am white middle class - of course I do. Another example is The Middle Class Handbook published by Not Actual Size. A bold attempt to sub-categories those whose salary is fair to middling, I can certainly appreciate what they are trying to say. But then their examples do seem to focus on white westerners. Those who fit into a similar salary bracket whose cultural background differs from mine don’t really get a mention.
In London, calling someone English and Middle Class doesn’t really tell you anything, other than where they were born and what they earn - and even that category is wide and fuzzy around the edges. In fairness, I think it would be quite a feat to write anything that could pinpoint every Londoner into a specific sub-category, and I take my hat off to anyone who gives it a go.
Thank you London for continuing to challenging my understanding of you and your inhabitants, nearly eleven years on. I guess that’s why I still love you, and probably always will.