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"The masses of buildings, the wharves on both sides…the countless ships along both shores, crowding ever closer and closer together, until, at last, only a narrow passage remains in the middle of the river…."

Today as usual I go for a fifteen minute run at six in the morning. During this quarter of an hour twelve planes fly over me on the way to Heathrow. Allowing an average of 200 passengers a plane (a modest estimate for they are mostly 747s) that means when I return from my run 2,400 people have flown in to London. By the time I have had my shower: 4,800; by 7.00, when I leave for work: 9,600. And it goes on all day. Through Heathrow 54 million passengers pass a year. London itself is transit lounge of the world. Of course we need an immigration policy; but in my heart of hearts I welcome influx, legal or illegal. In Rome there is the saying that to be a Roman you have to have been one of seven generations. This to me says 'provincial'. And of course London has had its own form of parochialism; the cockney thing, 'born within the sound of Bow Bells', 'I drank wiv mad Frankie in the Blind Beggar' bla bla; but cockneys have got lost, like it or not, in a greater, Estuarine city, in a tangle of increasingly exotic demographics. So wake up, Michael Caine; stop going on about being a Cockney. No-one gives a toss any more.

Let us relinquish 'community' then; it is charming when we see it in Norman Rockwell and Sesame Street, but it must remain a middle class dream. What we are left with is a less ambitious, but actually far more complicated and noble task: to put up with each other, to rub along together; and pretty abrasive it can be too; but we do so in the interests of something higher, yes something more glamorous! For the City is….an IDEA! Not a respectable Anglo-Saxon notion at all.


need these streets
city sublime
seismic city
chopper shot
perfect city
dark city
global flaneur
shanghai and seoul
city tourist
loathsome centres
krung thep
sex city
hong kong
nightmares dreams
new sublime
dickens in la

  verybigcity: e-Book by Rodney Blakeston
  :: SITEKICK.CO.UK :: 2002©Rodney Blakeston