Welcome to Londonistan

No surprise to learn I am here because MasterB is enjoying Outside Time.

The last two mornings he has woken me up at five and asked (loudly) to go out. This is exactly what Cat used to do. It worked well with Cat and it has worked well with MasterB this weekend as I have been out most of each day, and I am glad to know he has enjoyed himself in the early morning light. It also works as I fall asleep as soon as I get back into bed.

Aunt’s obit appeared in a national newspaper this weekend. I was a bit surprised to learn it has been online for month. A friend emailed me tonight to say she had read it. She described it as ‘lovely’, which pleased me, as a) Aunt was lovely and b) I wrote it. Nearly four months since Aunt died. I hope others who didn’t know her and who don’t know me will read it and marvel at her resilience. The editor at the paper was full of admiration for her. She emailed me several times to ask for more information about Aunt. I like the thought that Aunt’s life may be an inspiration others.

Also covered in the paper was the election of a new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who I hope will take his duties rather more seriously than his predecessor, the (in this household) unlamented Boris Johnson, who confuses crowd-pleasing with responsibility. Khan is a Londoner; born and brought up here, not many miles south of chez IsobelandCat. His campaign was about unity and hope, while the main opposition was focused on fear and division. A leading member of Her Majesty’s Government, Theresa May, questioned whether Khan would be a safe pair hands in the face of extremism and terrorist attacks as in his capacity as a lawyer he has worked on human rights cases.

Excuse me?

Is Ms May suggesting that espousing human rights is to be hand in glove with terrorists? If so, then find me guilty; I have been a member of Amnesty International all my adult life. It is the terrorists’ lack of respect for human rights I find so horrific. I don’t expect my own government to suggest that somehow some people are less entitled to those rights, less human in other words. We all know what happens when we see others as less human than ourselves, and it’s not pretty.

Even more confusing and jawdropping was the reaction from various other countries to Sadiq Khan’s election. Londonistan was a favourite word. His religion was made much of. Had Zac Goldsmith been elected would his Jewishness been a similar focus of their attention? Or the candidates who upheld Christianity but not the bit about loving they neighbour as thyself? Somehow I don’t think so.

Yesterday I met a charming man from the US. He was wearing a bowler hat which was quirky, but not particularly bizarre, given the range of clothing people wear in the capital. However, as our acquaintance grew, I learned it was something he had really wanted to get when in London. Something typically British. Maybe he hadn’t noticed that no one else was wearing one.

I think that some of these reactions to Sadiq Khan’s election are due to an outdated idea of London. I’d go further; an idea of London as it has never been. A London made up entirely of white men wearing pinstriped suits and bowler hats, carrying furled umbrellas and carefully folded copies of the Financial Times; a London of cor-blimey-strike-a-light urchins who have stepped out of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!; Women in low cut gowns selling oranges; cheeky chappies; and Mary Quant look-a-likes stepping in and out of Minis driven by Michael Caine.

An Australian friend once confessed that when she arrived in London she was startled to find herself in a modern, diverse city where it actually doesn’t rain very much.

As a journalist who has more or less given up the job for reasons given elsewhere, I am quietly jealous of the money these journalists are earning from these fantasy pieces about London. Also quietly scathing. The research will be minimal; the recycled hackneyed clichés will roll easily off the keyboard; it’s lazy journalism that paints a picture of London and Sadiq Khan that is as far away from reality as you can get.

Oh and yes, I did vote for him, sort of. I cast my first vote for Sian Berry of the Green Party, and my second for Sadiq Khan. It was a form of tactical voting because I didn’t think the Green candidate would win, but I wanted that endorsement of green policies to be registered.

Welcome to Londonistan.


11 thoughts on “Welcome to Londonistan

    • I have hope in him. He seems to want to do a good job for Londoners, which after the over weaning ego driven years of BoJo will be more than welcome.

  1. I was pleased to see that he won. I share your views and, as always, enjoy your writing. I get so frustrated every time I hear Trump say he is going to make “America great again.” The same type of rhetoric you speak about. If you read just a little bit about American history you will find that every era had some greatness and some rot. Now is no different – and consequently the phrase has no real meaning. But it does appeal to so many people who are looking for the wonderful past that never was. But it appears that Trump’s favorite reading is the National Enquirer, the sleaziest of the sleazy tabloids. I guess every country has its bad reporting – although if all that is reported is fantasy, then I guess we can’t call it reporting – it is storytelling. Please keep the journalistic part of your brain exercised, Isobel.

    • Thanks Pat. Trump’s rhetoric has got him this far. He does not let truth get in the way of anything he says. If elected, how long do you think he’d last?

      • All the political insider analysts that I have listened to don’t believe he has a chance at being elected because he has alienated so many groups – women, Blacks, Hispanics – his base is really too small for the general election. However, because he has proven so many predictions wrong, they all hedge a little. If he were to get elected, Canada said the doors are open for any of us wanting asylum. Isobel, I can’t help but think that he would get assassinated by one of his angry, gun-toting, hate mongers when he can’t deliver on his promises – either because his promises weren’t thought out (i.e., feasible) or because he doesn’t have the political allies to help him get laws passed.

        • Canada sounds a good option, though I think I’d steer clear of Alberta at the minute.
          Trump exercises an awful fascination, like a slo mo car crash. I wondered if there might be a point where a vote of no confidence would force him out of office.
          Tonight we had the unedifying spectacle of BoJo doing his bumbling act that seems to endear him to so many voters.
          there are moments when I despair.

        • Unfortunately our legislative bodies don’t have the option of no confidence votes. They can only impeach but it has to be for an impeachable offence (criminal). Bill Clinton had impeachment started because he lied about his sexual involvement with Monica Liewinski (not because of his sexual infidelity). I understand your despair because I also feel that way. It is one thing that Trump has been fact-checked and 70% of checked statements were found false, he is a bully and a hate-monger, and has no clue as to world affairs, how to be diplomatic to get things done for the greater good, and his brain is incapable of understanding the concept of greater good. And that is the tip of the iceberg – but what is so despairing is that people cheer him on. He truly has tapped into the latent evil of people. It is really scary here right now, Isobel. I wouldn’t be shocked if I heard of lynchings, especially when state government (North Carolina) can enact legislation depriving a segment (transgendered) of a right based on fears that have no factual base. The redeeming grace is that big businesses, entertainment stars, and the federal government are fighting back in a way that really hurts them. But at this point N.C. is standing firm. Unfortunately I haven’t heard of any outcry from the citizens. And then there is Georgia where the three top officials (governor, head of the legislature, and head chief justice) are all being indited on separate charges. I think people should be kept in kindergarten (pre-school) until they learn to play nice. Sorry for the length, but I so enjoy our discussions.

        • A bit too late for me to reply properly, but I did enjoy reading your comment very much. Thanks Pat. I am about to send you a quick email.

  2. i wish him well, too.
    enjoyed all your odd perceptions that people have about London – although i must admit i was under the impression that it rained lots in London, too, even though i can’t speak from personal experience. to date i have only spent one weekend in London, and it actually only rained a few hours, so i must let go of that impression.
    strange times we are in when Donald Trump looks like he really could be the next president in the country next door, and yet there’s always the hope that it will not be so. could you imagine?! scary, scary thought.
    anyhow, all the best to London in the days, months and years ahead!

    • Thanks Pix. We do get rain, but it is usually the drizzly fine stuff. Climate Crisis is cahnging that and downpors gave become more frequent. It actually rains more in Rome! I bought my first umbrella when I lived in Marseille and the rain pelted down for days on end. I had never seen anything like it, but locals felt it must remind me of home. It didn’t…

      Re Trump, I think it is a horrifying thought that he might be president, but in a weird sort of way I can see why people are attracted to him; most politicians are so thoroughly rehearsed in what they say, their speeches structured around soundbites sculted for news bulletins, that they all sound like so much blah.

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