Our theme of Globalisation/Migration was underpinned this evening by Ben Judah’s in-depth study of contemporary London. It is meticulously researched with a very helpful glossary of links to each piece of research quoted in the notes at the back.
The book is generally divided up into various geographical locations starting very appropriately at Victoria Coach Station at 6am where “Every week two thousand migrants unload……. They are all part of the same thing. The New London” And Ben Judah is a very good guide to this new London.
The lives of the different migrant communities are vividly described, the flight of the poor from central London to the outer suburbs from where they have to travel back every day to do the invisible service jobs that we all depend on. Particularly telling is the chapter entitled N21 (this is a bus route) which describes a bus stop on the Old Kent Road at 4am. 20 people trying to huddle from the rain under the bus shelter. “this is just the night shift for the 250 migrant cleaners of London. The rush hour before the rush hour that makes sure all of our offices are clean.”
We wondered if this was a version of Down and Out in Paris and London for our times and it was suggested that it would be a worthy recipient of the Orwell Prize. Entries open for the 2017 prize on 31 October. Let’s hope This is London makes it to the shortlist.
There’s a very good review of This is London on The Enlightened Economist blog here