Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cor Blimey Guv'nor I'm a Cockney sparra pt1


Tracy received an email from a friend in New Zealand this morning ...

"You know on the news the other night they interviewed "Londoners" and everyone one was foreign?! I mean, American, Arab, east European etc………….reckon stef might just be the last Londoner in London…………was very typical of a cosmopolitan city but you would have thought that out of 5 people picked on a bus on their way to work that one would be have been English?"

This intrigued both Tracy and myself as our experience of the coverage here in London was the exact opposite. With few exceptions, the people being interviewed on the streets after the attacks were white, English born, middle income types.

Skewed overseas coverage of events in London is not a new thing. I remember back after IRA bombed the City of London in 1993, an English friend who had been living in the States for a while spoke with me on the phone about his concerns over coming home for a visit for a few weeks. The coverage of the bombing in America was so exaggerated he was shitting himself. Somehow he’d got the impression that we were being cut down in swathes by a deluge of explosions. As I recall, only one person had actually died. Something similar seems to have taken place with last week’s bombings. Tracy’s family in New Zealand were freaked.

But it’s not just the overseas news coverage that seemed out of step with reality this time. The domestic reporting seemed pretty iffy as well.

If I was asked to target the two tube stations nearest to parts of London with a high Muslim population density, straight away, and without any hesitation, I would select Aldgate and Edgware Road. The Edgware Road is lined with Middle Eastern Coffee shops and eating places, complete with blokes puffing on Hookahs on the pavement. Aldgate Station is a limp stone’s throw away from Brick Lane.

Edgware Road and Aldgate were two of the stations bombed on Thursday

Now I’m not being all conspiratorial and suggesting these stations were targeted deliberately. What did surprise me was, given the locations, how few Arabic or Asian people were interviewed during the day and how little reference was made to the fact that the bombs exploded in Muslim parts of town. When I saw ‘few’ or ‘little’ I mean virtually none.

As I mentioned previously, the ‘Londoners’ interviewed were predominantly white English. The vast majority of them weren’t even Londoners at all. They just catch the train in from way out of town and come to work here. This was evidenced by the bizarre spectacle of thousand of people, described in the media as Londoners, walking out of the city with maps in their hands trying to figure out their route home. The area between ‘Home’ and ‘Work’ was a complete mystery to them.

The harsh reality is that the quality of life and schooling in most of London are now so awful that few of the people who grow up in this city actually hold down jobs in the city centre where the bombings took place. Those Londoners that do manage to get decent jobs piss off to the suburbs to raise their families there as soon as they can.

Nice places to live in London are the exception rather than the norm. For each pleasant part of East, Northeast, South or Southeast London that someone can name I can name half a dozen vile, woeful districts nearby.

And, by and large, those vile places are occupied by poor white trash and poor foreign trash, an awfully large amount of poor foreign trash. Trash, as in they’ve been dumped onto human rubbish tips and nobody gives a fuck what happens to them; provided they turn up to clean the toilets, wipe middle class babies’ arses and all those other delightful minimum wage jobs they’ve been imported to perform.

Quite a large proportion of these people happen to be Muslim.

Roughly half the people currently living in London weren’t even born in this country, let alone this city. We’ve been packing them in like there’s no tomorrow.

I admit I was none too happy about the packing in process. I’m still not ecstatic about the thought of it today. Turning large swathes of my hometown into a slave colony, served by 3rd world quality infrastructure doesn’t strike me as a good idea. But our new arrivals are people the same as me and they’re an integral part of the city now.

One of the consequences of having so many new friends coming into this city is that it has become home to just about every exiled 3rd world politician, political party and resistance group under the Sun. Logic dictated that these groups left each other alone and didn’t blow up any of their hosts.

Which is why many people thought that the attacks on New York, Madrid and elsewhere wouldn’t be replicated here.

Until last Thursday that is.

It just didn't make any sense.

But that always was bullshit logic.

There are essentially two ways to make sense of the bombings attributed to Al Qaeda.

The first explanation is the Blair/ Bush view. The perpetrators are insane and have no rational objectives.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is just plain nonsense and I’m disgusted, but not surprised, that the majority of people have swallowed it. Irrational insanity is not contagious. It’s not a condition that can be spread like a virus. How can people believe that a global network of sophisticated terrorists are committing senseless acts for no purpose? Of course the people setting these bombs have defined objectives

The second possible explanation is that whoever is planting these bombs is planting them with the intention of provoking a specific, anti Muslim response from the countries targeted. It doesn’t matter if they really are Muslim fundamentalists or people pretending to be Muslim fundamentalists, their intention is clear and London would be a most excellent target.

And now we’re playing straight into their hands.

And why did I make a point of emphasising the fact that the majority of Londoners don't come from London? I'll get onto that in a while ...


James said...

To be fair to your panicky friend, the 1992 (St. Mary Axe) and 1993 (Bishopgate) bombings were pretty shocking in the amount of damage caused to buildings which, if not strictly speaking London landmarks, were at least pretty historic. "Physically visible" damage, to use your words of the previous post.

In one sense -- huge and visible destruction -- these bombs were closer to 9/11 than last week's.

It did seem a little odd to me too, watching the endless American TV coverage, how frequently Edgeware Road was mentioned (albeit often just as "Edgeware tube station") but never with any comment on its Muslim demographics.

This snippet of Fox News coverage -- caught by Danny O'Brien, I think -- is slightly revealing...

Stef said...

Yes, I'd agree with that - Baltic Exchange was a mess and it was pretty shocking for the people who worked around there but I don't think it burned itself into Londoners' consciousness for reasons I'll try and pin down in my next post.

Thanks for the link BTW - I hadn't seen that stuff before.

A previous commentator made the point that a lot of time will have to pass before we can view current events in proper perspective. That point has really been rammed home by today's news that four (dead) suspects have been identified. On the face of it, I won't deny that it seems like an open an shut case but then who knows what tomorrow or the day after might bring?

And whatever direction the London bombing story eventually follows, there still remain all those niggling little points that may or may not be significant - the missing bus CCTV, the story of 'white' muslim terrorists dropped into papers for apparently no reason, the quite marked muslim-free coverage in the first 24 hours in areas filled with muslims and so on

I can hear police sirens outside now. I've been hearing them pretty much non stop since Thursday. I spent much of today listening to local radio and ordinary Muslims phoning in to say how worried and scared they are. It's a nightmare and those who should be guiding this country along a sensible and decent path are blatantly doing the opposite. I feel almost physically sick thinking about it ...

Sombra said...

Im from Portugal and i found your blog in recently updates... :)


Stef said...

Hello Miguel

I'm glad that you found my blog

Do you have any thoughts to share or are you just passing through?