Posts Tagged ‘Britain’


June 8, 2016

Fans of the Royal family wait outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital in London...Fans of the Royal family wait outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital in London, April 20, 2015. Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is due to give birth to her second child at the hospital some time in the next two weeks. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Before we started talking with our daughter’s friends in Georgia via Skype, my wife made a point of correcting my “skype manners.” “When you speak on Skype, your voice is too loud,” she said. “Besides, be careful when you make up your mind to take a stab at humor. Georgian humor may be different from what is considered to be humorous in Ukraine, and you may be misunderstood.”

I accepted my wife’s remarks. I don’t remember a single observation she has made about me within the last 43 years which has been out of place and not to the point. Actually, that’s what married life may be about – to self-improve through mutual “observations.”

And then I thought that Queen Elizabeth might instruct her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the same way before official meetings they usually have. Prince Philip may have even more reasons to be instructed than I have. He is known for many jokes he made that are considered as gaffs, and he even coined a special word for his blunders – “DONTOPEDOLOGY”: a science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it,” as he once said. Believe me or not, but after my wife’s words I felt (in my own small way) like His Royal Highness with the title Prince of Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, we agreed with my wife that in the course of our current “re`mont” we’ll empty our lumber room to make it into “FANS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY” room. We’ll drape it with the Union Jack and some souvenirs bearing the royal image which we already have, and when our granddaughter Sophia’s sentimental favourite Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (now one year old) gets married, we may be invited by Her Royal Highness to London to put up a tent on her wedding route, to live there for three days and nights with thousands of other fans and to catch a glimpse of her, which will be a “moment with eternity” for the centenarians, which we will be by that time.


January 23, 2016

2016-01-23This is London by Ben JudahWhile delivering lectures in English lexicology I used to tell my students about dialects on the British Isles and, among them, about Cockney: about the phrase “to be born within the sound of Bow Bells” which is the traditional definition of a Cockney, about the rhyming slang, “h”s dropped and “h’”s added before opening vowels, etc. I told the students about my own experience of talking with Cockney people, and played back recorded Cockney voices. Today I have read that Cockney is predicted to die out in some 15 years. The prediction is contained in the book This is London: Life and Death in the World City by Ben Judah. The book will appear this coming Thursday (January 28), but a number of sites, like the Financial Times, the Amazon, Goodreads, Book Depository, the Daily Mail, and the Telegraph (definitely more, but I have looked through these only), have announced the future publication giving some brief excerpts from it. Incidentally, it’s Ben Judah’s third book, the first two (Fragile Empire about Putin’s Russia, and The Yeti Hunts about the author’s travels through Russia and Central Asia) were published in 2013. Last year Ben Judah, together with Ukrainian journalists, worked on a documentary Russia with Cash which exposed the practice of selling property in London to Russian and Ukrainian nouveaux riches by British real estate agents despite the agents’ knowing that the money paid for the property had been stolen. In September 2015 Ben Judah was interviewed in Kyiv by the International Service of Hromadske Radio (Public Radio). In his interview he said that the “oligarchic” corruption in Ukraine and Russia is also explained by the fact that the British Virgin Islands and Switzerland and the Cayman Islands were turning a blind eye to where the deposited money came from (

As you may understand, with that previous knowledge about Ben Judah and his principled, uncompromising stand, I have every reason to give credit to him and to what he writes in his latest work. And the picture of London he presents is rather gloomy.

Ben Judah writes about the results of the British successive governments relaxing immigration into the UK. Actually, it’s not the governments now, but criminal gangs who decide who comes into the UK and in what numbers. The gangs once used to blight their own countries and now, having been “imported” into Britain, they keep “supervising” their compatriots here. 40% if immigrants in London do not have a British passport. London, says Ben Judah, is no longer an English city. It’s a patchwork of ghettos. From 1971 to 2011 the white British share in London population slumped from 86% to 45%. 57% of all children born are born to immigrant mothers and nearly all who die are white British. With the uncontrolled immigration, unimaginable squalor, misery, and criminality “reminiscent of Victorian times” take hold. 96% of prostitutes are migrants. The author describes a case when a brothel was opened in a house near his son’s primary school in Hampstead. The mother of one of his son’s friends lived opposite. She was intimidated by the sinister men in leather jackets who sat in the nearby coffee shop all day. She reported to the police that the girls on the top floor looked underage and never went out. After some time her car was smashed up. That was a warning to keep her nose out of it. The mother never raised the matter again.

Local workers have problems because huge numbers of new arrivals push down wages. A manual worker complains that he earns now 7 pounds per hour, while before he earned 15 pounds for the same work. Additional payments for overtime work have gone forever.

Rich suburbs, such as Edmonton, once were “terraces of respectability.” Now they are turning into tenements for migrants. The “oldies” who live there still may be satisfied that the property market remains buoyant. As one of them says, “that’s the one true way people like me can sell up, cash in and get the hell out.”

I can only add that it’s not just London. When I was in Sheffield on an educational exchange in 1978 I was charmed by the district I lived in: a beautiful park nearby, my house which overlooked the park (the house had the name Park View), amiable neighbours with friendly smiles, a pub round the corner where we gathered almost every evening for half an hour before the closing hour…. I couldn’t recognize the place when I visited Sheffield several years ago. A depressed district, the park overgrown with weeds, broken fences, two-three families of immigrants living in every house… As regards pubs, Ben Judah in his book charts the gradual disappearance of the English by the fate of their pubs. There were 12 pubs in one place, he says. One has been turned into a Nigerian mosque, another into an Afrikko nightclub, the rest have been simply demolished.

Was there any need for a book like this? What is going on in Britain, in Europe, and (maybe, to a lesser degree) in the U.S.A. , is a secret that everybody knows. But as soon you start having an opinion which is different from one being formed by the propaganda machine, you are immediately labeled as a “racist.” I’m glad that this young, intrepid and talented writer came up with his study. Being a Londoner himself (“born and bred”) and, later, an Oxford graduate, he immersed into the world of migrants, talked with them, bedded down with them in their shelters, so he has the right to speak up about the ills of the system (or shall I say “of the chaos”?) created by those short-sighted who live in their ivory administrative towers.

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