Boxing Day in London is always hectic, but as I walked back towards Marble Arch from Foyle’s Charing Cross branch with David Smyth’s Complete Thai book/CD set, I’m still amazed at the number of nationalities and tongues being spoken as everyone went about their business focusing in the day’s best sales. There is certainly more Europeans here than there were in 1997, when I first arrived in the UK to do my Scottish Highers, or 1994 when I came to visit Brother who was studying at UCL at the time.
What’s more telling is there is significantly more Eastern Europeans now than there were 10 years ago. David Cameron made a stand about a week ago, and despite some in the media saying that the UK’s reached a milestone in its relationship with the rest of the EU, UK is certainly very much entwined with the continent, in my opinion. Yet London, above and beyond the other European capitals, is also a world city. Chinese, Saudi, Nigerian and Brazillians were the biggest spenders yesterday.
Malaysians may not be up there, but there were plenty of Malaysians on Oxford Street. It wasn’t difficult to pick out the Malay ladies in their tudungs – the students were queueing outside Next, the matrons, Selfridges. Some must’ve been Bruneians, but without hearing the accents it’s difficult to distinguish Malaysians from Bruneians. There were also many Indonesians (their economy must surely be booming just now), Filipinos (bumped into one of the NHS nurses I used to work with), Singaporeans (but of course), and Thais – it’s not difficult to catch the lilt of Thai-speakers once one’s ears are attuned to it.
I look forward to spending some time in Krungthep next year, and getting to know Thailand even better. But for now, back to work tomorrow!