What’s Wrong With This Picture?
It’s not hard to understand why half the country voted Brexit. It was the half outside London, and they did it with good reason.
London is now in a bubble, divorced from the rest of the country and running away with itself, a strange anglo-Switzerland where soup and a sandwich tops £8 (Pret A Manger), a car service can be £1,000 and 3 drinks in a pub comes to £26 (The Jugged Hare, Barbican – be warned).
Meanwhile, one friend wanting to take a job in a Kent library unreachable by public transport realised that because the same council owns the library car park it would cost her more than she could earn. And another working as a community police officer has been relocated to a site so far away that he can’t afford the daily train fare there.
Welcome to a topsy-turvy world where an unqualified London PA can earn 50K while a trained engineer is on 30K.
If Theresa May concentrated on fixing the wealth gap between London and the rest of the country (by encouraging businesses to locate elsewhere and supporting infrastructure) Brexit, with all its impediments and alterations, could be allowed to simply drift away as an uninteresting minor trade negotiation.
Who would be upset so long as the broader problem was addressed? Johnson and Farage failed their voters by supporting Trump, and May could carry out the kind of changes Corbyn has singularly failed to suggest.
Meanwhile, in the London bubble, each new ‘luxury’ apartment building that goes up here is shonkier than the one before. The current taste is for vulgar silver and gold fittings which appeal to Russians and Chinese. Here’s one that’s currently a building site, but the gigantic picture showing the building is on the far right is selling the nondescript view rather than the property itself.
Having been in a few show flats around the city, I’ve noticed that one feature is common to all. Their shockingly small size is disguised by a great picture window. Here’s what else is wrong with the flat in the shot.
- The woman is not wearing a thick jumper. Perhaps she has gone mad and thinks she’s moved to Italy. And that plant will be dead in a week.
- It’s not raining cats and dogs. The North London sky has magically become Dubai.
- Her view is blocked by the ghastly glass stumps of the local student accommodation, with its ground floor bicycle shop and vegan cafe and earnest, doomed millennials trying to do good.
- Thanks to our last Mayor’s clean air efforts, this arterial road is the most polluted in Europe, and she should be lost in a haze of filth. She shouldn’t even be outside without a gas mask.
- The insane annual service charge she pays for a gym, pool and cinema she doesn’t use means that the woman can’t afford to go out. Caged, she prowls the balcony like the last of a dying species.
- Her apartment is mysteriously double the height of the one below, which must be built for midgets or people with no legs.
Yet there are some charming new buildings in London. These brick reliefs are part of a set on a new building in Wandsworth. If I was an architect I’d want to leave some kind of personal mark on my building, wouldn’t you?