A year ago, during the riots, James Meek wrote that London ‘is not the mixing city its liberal inhabitants would like to think it is. Loving the cultural diversity of London as a spectator-inhabitant is not the same as mingling with it’:
I live in Mile End, about halfway between the site of the Olympics and the closest proper looting spree that I heard of, in Bethnal Green. It was quiet here last night… On the face of it my area’s mixed, ethnically and socially. They’ve just built a new Hindu temple on Rhondda Grove. The students at the girls’ school across the road are almost entirely Muslim. The church along the way which would, I assume, be derelict otherwise, has been taken over by a black congregation. Middle-class white atheists like me sail around on our bikes to buy our coffee beans in Broadway Market or Victoria Park Village; there are Georgian houses round the corner that a million pounds wouldn’t buy you, and there’s the eastern stretch of Roman Road, with pound stores and pawn shops and elderly geezers who never made it out to Essex and a market that makes Albert Square look posh. But this isn’t mixing. It’s the ingredients for something – nobody knows what – laid out side by side and not being mixed, not touching.
Read the full post again (and quite a few interesting comments) here.