Saturday, September 8, 2018

London - Down the tube?

We were last in London in late March early April 2018. A long absence followed. My Passport was to expire and I had to go thru the trauma of applying for a new one. Once that was done, we set about applying for fresh visas for the UK. All this takes time, despite what people may say, my Passport took 5 weeks. Don’t ask why. It just takes time. The visas took effectively 3 weeks. That is standard time.

Anyway, we are back for a week. Great weather, sunshine, cool breeze, what more could one want. Then we started to see things, no no it was not the alcohol or drugs kicking in, but simply some observations.

I first came to London in 1985, HRH the Queen of Kutch in 2000, and, over the years have come here, literally countless times, sometimes for work and mostly for pleasure. As a tourist, everyone goes to Oxford Street. This, for those who don’t know, starts at Marble Arch and along the Street you have the iconic stores – Marks & Spencer, Selfridges and John Lewis – and reach Oxford Circus a crossroad where Regent Street crosses Oxford Street. Oxford Street continues all the way to Tottenham Court Road.

Oxford Street is iconic in the true sense of the word. This time, we felt, that icon was fading. It seemed somewhat worn and torn, somewhat sad. Many of the shops are now shuttered. Sir Philip Green who owned several brands, Miss Selfridge, BHS, Topshop and Dorothy Perkins among others, has shut them down. This has meant that all the shops these brands had on Oxford Street are shut. Recently, House of Fraser also shut only to be rescued.

The clock above the main entrance to Selfridges has always been beautiful.

Here are some shuttered sites.

On the one hand you have these shuttered stores, you have a new phenomenon. Very large sweet [candy] stores and tourist tat stores are opening. These blare Arabic music and have very Asian mustachioed men manning them. The character of Oxford Street has changed, unfortunately for the worse.

There was yet another phenomenon which struck us. This is the presence of large numbers of Muslim/Arabs. I know I am being very politically incorrect but so be it.

The Arabs are now everywhere. Historically Edgeware Road has been Arab central but now it is all over. In swathes of Knightsbridge and acres of Mayfair the only language you hear on the street is Arabic, not Russian. You have Arabic pharmacies, Arabic clothes store and of course Arabic [Lebanese] restaurants all over. Shisha bars are a dime a dozen. What we thought was even more disturbing was masses of Arabs exiting basements at 1.30 pm on Friday. Obviously post Friday prayer.

I leave you to draw your conclusions.     

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