Monday, May 04, 2015

Diversity deficit

It's well known that London is rapidly becoming a millionaire's playground, with large swathes of it bought up by big business and foreign tycoons whilst the poor are priced out. This, in theory, should make it a more interesting and fun place. To be rich is to be free, independent, to do whatever you damn well like. Unfortunately, as no doubt you've noticed, the new affluent areas look identical; bland and homogeneous, devoid of character, like airports the world over.

Conversely, it follows that poor areas should be dull and depressing: after all, there's no money, no freedom, no choice. Yet poorer areas are usually far more interesting than affluent ones. This is usually to with the colourful, multi-cultural mix of people. Traditionally vibrant, poor and multi-cultural areas such as Peckham, Dalston and Brixton are all now rapidly changing but the streets still feel dynamic and full of character. The life is on the street, as it is predominately in Asia and Africa, and these parts of London buzz with the colour, sights, taste and smells of Lagos or Marrakesh (however, I'll be the first to admit that predominately white, poor areas are insufferably depressing).

But the funny thing about being rich is – it's such a leveller. It doesn't matter if they're white American, Saudi, Chinese or Russian – they're rich all the same, with the same tastes. The rich have a diversity deficit. Once you have the most expensive car, watch, house and wife, where do you go from there? Exclusivity is actually less choice by its very nature – it's the top of the pyramid. It's less choice by choice. But if you've got Poundland and Primark and a limited budget the opportunities are endless.

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