I’ve been thinking about this one a lot. I got on the tube the other day to go to work, like many thousands of people do in London. Opposite me were sat two people. One, a lady of advancing years, presumably (by her speech) English. The other was a Polish gentleman of middle age, reading a book. The book was by Voltaire.
The lady noticed this and struck up conversation. As is the habit on the tube, people rarely speak, so this was immediately noticeable. It turns out both were students of Philosophy, the lady had read Voltaire in French, and the gentleman in English, but both had studied under the same professor at the same institution.
This struck me as a great example of what London is, many different people from places spread all over the globe, but with similar interests and fascinations.
I’ve long been used to appearing to be the only English person on the train or in the room, and hearing the babble of Slavic, Asian, Western European, African and other speech all around me. It seems sometimes that the world has come to meet in one place, and I live there.
It’s easy to see why some people might suggest that we are losing our identity by seeing the influx of immigrants. But then our identity is based on this influx. I for one am happy that in the town I live in I can see so many different views on the world in one place. One outstanding trait – according to Kate Fox – of the English is “fairness”, and this in part is based on the understanding of all cultures, or at least an attempt to. London is one of the few places where you can do this.