Hugh Muir of the Guardian writes:
The prime minister talks of people being discombobulated by immigration. Let me tell you about Green Street, the Asian ‘Bond Street of the east’
We have been discombobulated by immigration, says David Cameron. But, as Vince Cable observed, an election is coming. Even so, standing on Green Street in east London, on a Saturday afternoon, it strikes me that Cameron is right in some regards. There is a disconnect.
Let me tell you about Green Street. When first I came here, more than 40 years ago, it was high street anytown. There was the supermarket but also Marks & Spencer. The high-street banks each had a presence. My mum, dragging me and her shopping trolley, would buy staples from Tesco and Queen’s Market, stopping to wave to our white English neighbours: that was fine. But also to chat with church contemporaries, strapping black women in need of guidance/gossip. That was interminable. The West Indian stuff – the yams, green bananas – came from a ruddy-faced Englishman called Hammond. Heckling him about the quality of his yam was part of the theatre.
So what happened? About the time I went to college, the recession ravaged Green Street. The banks drifted away, as did M&S and much of the populace, and into this near corpse of pound shops and charity stores came a life-saving influx, first of Indians, for whom the rents were now agreeably cheap, and then of Pakistani Muslims. They traded there. Bought houses in the surrounding streets. They turned it into the “Bond Street of the east”. So where’s the disconnect?
Well, at the far end of Green Street stands West Ham United, and what you notice about the influx it generates, from Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire and the other areas of white flight, is that they shows little inclination to embrace the new reality. The pie and mash shop does a roaring trade; so do the stalls with burgers and sausages and the KFC. The Duke of Edinburgh pub is full to bursting. But the curry cafes don’t see much of a spike. And as the fans head resolutely out again, past the sari shops, the jewellery emporiums, the store selling “Islamic goods”, the women in hijab, they do indeed look a little discombobulated. Not hostile. Just otherworldly. They are mostly gone before long and Green Street returns to its latest normal. Plenty of votes in that for Cameron, and he knows it. Source: The Guardian.
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