Where are the English?

August 2012

So I've been in London for nearly two months now, and I'm wondering where the English people are. There seem to be plenty of people from various parts of Europe, and a lot of Muslims in the particular area we are in, but very few English accents. Most of the time when I speak to someone who I expect to sound English they come out with a thick eastern European accent, such that when occasionally someone I expect to be as foreign as I am comes out with a strong English accent, I'm surprised.

I don't remember London being this cosmopolitan when I was here 10 years ago, but maybe that was just my wide-eyed excitement at finally walking on the land of my long forgotten ancestors. I've commented on this to several people and the response has invariably been a comment on the huge number of eastern European immigrants since the establishment and expansion of the European Union and the rights of freedom to travel and live anywhere within its bounds. 

I also came across this sticker on a lamp post on a walk through a nearby suburb the other day.

It seems to be propaganda for a fringe political party, but takes advantage of the fears and uncertainty that come with multiculturalism.

To answer to the question posed in this post, the English in my experience so far are not in service jobs, which are the sort of people I have come into contact with so far, in supermarkets, shops and tourist attractions, though there are some almost stereotypically English people working at the local library. To find them I have to look at the crowds on the tube in rush hour and the semi-sloshed executives spilling out of the bars on a Friday after work.

Without family or institutional connections I have found Meetup groups a very helpful way to meet locals, and I look forward to getting a job soon, for the money obviously, and also to meet people who live here and don't just want to serve me as quickly (or as slowly!) as possible.


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