Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Viva la difference

I have a little confession to make. When I went to the Museum in Docklands last week I spent a whole afternoon walking around the Docks in wartime exhibition. Yes I know, Max doesn't get to London until the mid 60's and I was supposed to be researching the building of Canary Wharf but, as is my want, I was off on a tangent again.

So why do I need to know what happened to the Isle of Dogs in WW2 - well I suppose in the grand scheme of things I don't but going around the exhibits made me realise something I have always wondered about - why should I feel such an affinity with the East Londoners that I have met over the years? After all most of the people I met through work in the late 70's thought that anywhere north of Watford was bandit country and that apart from being brave to have moved so far away from home at such a tender age I must also have been incredibly grateful to have been given the chance to live and work 'darn sarf'

So why should I have made so many enduring friendships with some of my old colleagues? I suppose it because if you look at the history of East London and Liverpool you will find more similarities than differences - what do I mean? - well they are both ports (obviously); they have both absorbed great waves of immigration over the years; both profited from the slave trade ( much to their shame); they both had a huge number of poorly paid, badly housed, working class poor; Maggie Thatcher is still vilified by both communities and Hitler tried to bomb the shit out of them.

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