Yesterday I was charging up and down the country running my youngest back to London. I’m not used to driving 550 miles in a day.
It’s quite a shock to be in London again. Gives perspective to life. The cosmopolitan atmosphere. The buzz. The crowds. The traffic. The greyness. And above all – the enormity of the city.
Henry is living in a part of the city that is mainly Jewish. There were a lot of Hasidic Jews going about their life. They were picking up kids and attending what looked like a school. There were security guards roaming the street. There was menace.
A couple of doors up from Henry’s there were a number of Muslim’s coming out of a large house. They too were all decked up in full Muslim gear. The contrast of tribal gear was fascinating.
I could never have coped with all that. Too much of an intrinsic rebel. I found it hard enough with my school uniform, cub and scout uniforms. Always in trouble. If I had been born Muslim, Jewish or anything else I think I would have been pushing the limits and questioning it. But then you never know. The power of indoctrination is very strong. I’m so grateful my parents brought me up with freedom.
I’m sure I shouldn’t but I find these religious costumes laughable and disturbing. I find it hard to imagine that anybody really believes that any god would really give specific instructions on how to dress. Surely these people realise that these things are cultural, tribal identifiers??
I find the way that women are meant to dress and act misogynistic. It reinforces their inferior standing for me. Why should they have to cover their hair? Why do they have to wear shape disguising robes? Are men that weak that they are incapable of dealing with their own lust? Isn’t it like blaming the women for the lust of their men? Or is it just another way of controlling women?
Mystery to me why these women are prepared to put up with it.
There is also the weirdness of people wearing clothing that originated in hot climates in the cold and drizzle of an English Winter. Bizarre! I’d like to see an Asian Arctic expedition! Or Asian Astronauts. But that’s just me. It’s no more hilarious than the British Raj all dressed up in their starched collars, jackets and pith helmets in the Indian heat. Equally risible.
On the positive side, I do enjoy the friendly clashes of cultures and the cross-fertilisation of ideas, cultures, perspectives, attitudes, foods, drinks and philosophies. Hybrids are always stronger.
London is a dynamo.
In the pub, watching the football, it was packed – as if covid had never happened and was now completely forgotten. So much so that a mask would have looked strange.
I drove back from London to my little village where they still wear masks in the local shops, where it is largely monocultural, where there is clean air, greenness and little traffic and I reflected on how predictable, mundane and boring my life has become. Everything here is so sedate.
Long ago, when I lived in London, my friends were much more mixed – Black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, Greek, Australian……………. I never had a minute. People were always dropping in. There was always something happening. There were events, gigs, art, meals, friends…………….. Life was full and lively.
There was no time to get things done though. I was experiencing not creating.
It was only when I moved to the more tranquil regions that I was able to find the time to harness all that experience into creativity.
I enjoyed my brief visit and noted the shades of violence and tension that was present – close to a fight in the pub – but I don’t think I’d want to live there anymore.
I’m happy here in the village where trendy and hip are esoteric strangers.