The English have a saying, France is actually alright – the problem with France is that it’s full of the French. I wonder if something similar can’t be said of London. I love London. It’s my home but Londoners, truth be told, are filthy, especially the Londoners I saw in the wee hours of this morning on my way back home from a night out. I had made my way from Vauxhall, south of the Thames, to Trafalgar Square. This is where all night buses depart from and return to. Trafalgar Square is smack in the centre of this city of seven million and is always busy. Leicester Square is but the proverbial stone’s throw away and hosts a slew of tourist trap eateries that cater crap to night revellers. I’m walking to the bus stop and I have to constantly step over all the filthy containers and food wrappers thrown on the pavement. Fish and chips, burgers, hot dogs, you know all the junk people eat after a night drinking. The thing is, I do not understand why grown ups will throw their rubbish on the street when they are but ten metres from a bin. I guess a thousand centimetres is just too far to expect a sophisticated cosmopolitan Londoner to carry his rubbish. Or is it that London is now so crammed with immigrants (I’m one) who take no pride in the city (I do) – perhaps many of them don’t think much of London or the West and can’t wait to return to their homelands if only their homelands weren’t such shit holes?
My experience was not made any better when I stopped, at a shop, to buy a drink to rehydrate. A group of Somali or Ethiopian young men blocked the door into the shop. Probably in their early 20s, the boys were pushing and shoving and being a damn nuisance. They eventually let me in and while I was choosing my drink I heard one of them, out at the front, say “We know when you close, we’ll come back and shoot you”. I made my way to the counter to pay and four or five of these boys were in front of me still pushing and shoving while the Turkish (I presume) shop owner was screaming for them to behave or leave. One boy brings out a wad of highly denominated notes (I can’t remember seeing so much cash outside of a bank) and while he’s paying and distracting the owner, his friend was busy, stuffing chocolate into his pocket. The thief turns to me and goes, “Hey rasta man”, (why do people think every black man with locks is a Jah man who worships Haile Selassie), “Hey rasta man, you smoke weed?”. I said I didn’t. “Hey you drink alcohol?” I was becoming irritated by his questioning but thought that asking him to fuck off would be asking for trouble. So I asked, “Why are you asking me all these questions?”. He goes “Why?” and I repeated, “Yes, why?”. He looked at me and replied, “Because I sell alcohol”. The point being alcohol is not licensed to be sold at 4 a.m in the morning but he could, illegally. “Well, good for you then” I shot back and then watched the thief and his friends leave the shop. I paid for my drink, dodged all the filth Londoners threw on the ground and caught my bus home.
PS Just before I turned the corner into my street, I heard a noise behind me. I turned round and it was a young bearded Englishman riding his bike while holding on to a second bike. He called out “Good morning, Sir” in a friendly voice. I was in shock as a Londoner greeting a stranger is a strange phenomenon. “Good morning”, I replied in as cheery a tone as I could muster. Maybe there’s hope for London after all.