Myself and the youngest were to go off to London for a few days and had been researching things to do when we were down. One of the trips was to be either the Dungeons or the Tower of London with its tombs, the latter being my preferred choice as I thought it might be more meaningful. The bairn preferred the theatre and location of the Dungeons however and neither of us were for giving in. Parental responsibility took over and I decided that it would be the Tower and so went to the website to book tickets. I got no further than the first page when the visit was abandoned in disgust after reading the following
“A fully immersive theatrical experience with some of England’s most notorious characters including Jack the Ripper, William Wallace and so many more. You will see, hear and even smell what London Bridge was like throughout its dark history!”
Whilst half suspecting that there may be slight bias, I had hoped for a sympathetic account of how William Wallace had met his end. To find that the place of his murder was now claiming his nationality was one step too far and the Dungeons got my money. Despite emailing to complain about such a blatant mistake on a website that is read by visitors from around the world, it is still there today; another example of the interchangeable English/British that happens unconsciously all too often but is unacceptable on an official site.
The location chosen for our base this time was new. Fantastic transport links meant that I could get 3 nights accommodation there for less than half the price of one night with the same hotel chain, only 15 minutes further north in central London. Upon leaving the train station, it was a shock to discover that the first street name encountered was that from where we had travelled – Caithness. This led onto Dingwall Road and close by were Sutherland, Elgin, Ballater and Aberdeen Roads. Although heartwarming to see each day, I suspect that the reason for the names would not fill me with such joy and have links to the aristocracy and feudalism.
This location was Croydon, infamously brought to the attention of many Scots by the now Prime Minister Boris Johnson when in 2011, he stated in an interview that a pound spent in Croydon was of far more value to the country than a pound spent in Strathclyde. What he meant of course was that by spending money in London, it would immediately benefit somewhere that the population equalled that of Scotland and would also have a trickle down effect with an eventual financial result here. From a Londoncentric point of view, it makes complete sense but from the outside, we see things differently. London is very much a city – county? – of two halves. Years of investment and millionaire residents have seen parts reach legendary status while, just streets away, lives are chaotic and deprivation has reached unimaginable depths. It is impossible to see how this can be sustained; when the inevitable collapse happens, the monies poured into London will have counted for nothing and Scotland will once again be left short and having to salvage a recovery through no fault if her own.
Another surprise in Croydon was to discover that this was where the part of the Home Office that deals with Visas, immigration and asylum was located as I had always assumed it would have been in central London. Those seeking safety from persecution must present themselves at the imposing 20 storey building prepared to be detained immediately for several weeks before deportation if unsuccessful. Those seeking work, with the attached bureauocracy, will shortly find their days here numbered as the Tories begin their post-Brexit purges. As London tries to curtail its population growth and Scotland desperately tries to increase hers, should the saying going forward perhaps be that a job created in Strathclyde is worth more than one in Croydon?