Clarity is hard to come by from a London point of view. If you’re from here, you are here, very hard to get perspective from that deep buried position. But anyway, this city is my home, as it is for a lot of others. It’s not a lifestyle we choose or an experience to be had, it’s what we wake up to every day. It’s friends and family, those experiences we’d rather forget and those we revel in. It’s hard to reconcile that with all the people to whom this city is an adventure, a lifestyle choice, a test of themselves or whatever.
Y’see we, as native Londoners, get split. On the one hand we have our home, which we know to be a magical, wondrous place, just as everyone says it is. But on the other it’s ours, it’s familiar, no more special than Kent or Norwich or Leeds is to you. And as the fight for the soul of the place grows harder, as gentrification and civlization drives us out in favour of someone elses dream, we have a hard time connecting that. Because our home is the place where we go down the shop, drink in the shitty pub, get by in the flat we can afford. Why is it so special as to need stealing from us? It’s just home, right? But of course it isn’t. It’s a warzone.
One where I’ve heard people say ‘be nice, don’t be intolerant of change’ and ‘fuck change, kill them all’. And that’s a question Londoners face. I’m not including some struggling Somali refugee or desperate seeker for a safe life and a safe home. Nor the people who come to build a life as they are, rather than demanding a new image in the city of who they want to be. I’m talking about the immigrants to London who are making a vain choice, those coming from the home counties, or the EU, or the US, the ones who want a lifestyle. Why should we give that to you? This city is a product of the people who live here, not the money you can wield to buy a bespoke experience.
At a certain point we need to choose how far we’ll go to defend that. Foxtons in Brixton had their windows bricked three times in the last year – good, to be honest. I don’t like a lot of the incomers to London but I’m indifferent to even more of them. Right now though, right here, it’s a conflict of my home vs your dream. And to be quite honest I don’t give a fuck if you feel scared or uncomfortable in this city. If you feel excluded by hostile locals or sneering jibes at your little purchased islands of ‘culture’. You should. Because the people selling it to you don’t give a fuck about the effects of their actions. We do. And we need you to check yourself before you start saying things about ‘Nunhead Village’ or gentrifying Lewisham. It’s our home after all. Maybe not always as magical or beautiful a place as was advertised to you, but still.
London has always been here for those who need to build a life but why should it be here for those who just have enough money to play at one?