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London’s Mayor appeared on Radio 4 recently, talking about immigration and the projected quotas. Quoting government figures, he suggested that London, on a pro-rata basis, might be ‘allowed’ just under forty thousand immigrants…less than needed to supply the building trade alone (where over 10% of workers will retire over the next five years, apparently). He suggested a special measure for the city that would allow it to have more immigrants, while the rest of England (and of the UK) could continue with its exclusions.

The interesting element in this, which wasn’t picked up by the interviewer, was how, and by whom, this arrangement would be ‘policed’. Presumably some sort of line would have to be drawn around London, and ‘surplus’ immigrants prevented from crossing it , at least so far as moving to other jobs, and to living elsewhere would be concerned. Days out, holidays, and visits, presumably would be OK? Who would draw this line? Who would control its crossing points? London? Or we Provincials? Would we need internal passports to get into, or out of whichever side of the line we inhabited? Would Londoners, wishing to move in to the rest of the UK, or Provincials wishing to move out to London, count as immigrants, and who would be counting?

Either way, it would be the first step in a discernible road. I seem to recall that both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson, during their time as Mayors of London, remarked in public, that they thought it entirely feasible the city could maintain itself as a City State, without the aid of the rump of the UK.

In Trieste last year I encountered some campaigners for a sort of ‘free Trieste’. They were convinced that the city – much smaller than London – could successfully go it alone.

When things start to break up it’s not entirely predictable where the fragmentation will stop. We have a surplus of water in this part of the UK, which, global warming continuing, might support the local population if sold at a high enough price to those living in the soon-to-be-drier parts of the present country… Of course, we’d have to seize the reservoirs etc(Just a thought!). 


Another non-literary blog today……but keep an eye open for a literary reference….

Breakfast this morning forty floors up on the Heron Tower in London. {No photos yet…. but there will be). Pretty cool – probably around zero in fact. And the observation that Dickens’ London lay 35 + floors below, like an archeological horizon, four or five floors deep and with who knows what still buried below that.

Later, on the Glasogow train, the announcer’s voice is nuanced, modular (rather than modulated) – the merest pause between ‘calling at’ and ‘Glasgow’, and she works through names, heading north -as we all inevitably must – becoming more sensual. At Penrith she get a little breathy. Carlisle she sells like a box of ‘not ordinary’ chocolates.

The restaurant at the top of the universe was of course the Duck & Waffle – or should that be?????? The building trembles in the wind, or was that me? – the trembling, not the wind, I assure you!

And later, on the train, six hours on from breakfast, Carlise still four away but closing, a real announcer – with a regional accent – tells us that tickets will be checked again – but only for those travelling first class. Virgin Trains obviously know who they can trust…..

Goodnight sweet ladies, and gentlemen, I’m for supper (at ground level), and a glass of the vinous red!