The Beauty of Diversity in London

Several days ago John Cleese was reported saying that London was no longer an “English” city. There are so many ways in which to respond to his comments, but London is a melting pot of nationalities and has been for centuries. Nothing much has changed since different cultures from all over the World decided to make the Capital their home. There are enclaves of the City that different nationalities have made “their own”. I speak from experience growing up in the sixties where Italians would congregate around Clerkenwell and attention a mass held at St Peter’s Church. Italians from all over the country would flock to the Church for “feste”, celebrations of any kind. They did so to remind them of the home they left, but also to bring something a little different to the area. Many people had never seen or experienced such a colourful way of celebrating festivities. And it wasn’t just the Italians that added a diversity to the City - Chinese, Greek, Turkish, French, Africans, Asians, Caribbean, Jewish, Australians and so it goes on.

70% of tenants in London are from countries all over the World. Sometimes we wonder why they bother - the weather ! In all seriousness, the diversity across the Capital is clear for all to see and it does add a certain variety to life. Brexit has made our EU counterparts a little nervous - should they settle, should they leave? Who knows. Yet, globally and not just within the EU, London and the rest of the UK has always attracted “visitors”, who fall in love with the way of life and never leave. London will hopefully continue to evolve and change- it’s only those that are envious of what we have that criticise and sneer.

In some cases there are complex reasons as to why someone from overseas ends up on our shores. Yet whatever that reason is, being a non native speaker in a country whose customs are completely different, is no mean feat. The last few years have been confusing for so many and the semantics don’t help - immigration, racism, prejudice, diversity, xenophobia- conjure up a great deal of emotion, and clearly cause misunderstandings. Yet we have a multicultural City where so many nationalities co-exist and that only adds benefits to the way we see the World. Isn’t that what Diversity is all about?