This past Sunday the city of Madrid staged a faux London flea market modelled after Portobello Road and Camden Lock. The event attracted over 50,000 shoppers, according to this article, and included a mix of traditional British things—from fish and chips to police helmets—and new traditional British things — a steel band and various ethnic goods and wares. Consumers were encouraged to pay with pounds instead of euros. The event was sponsored by British businesses.

In thinking so much recently about what London is, what London wants and the future of the city, it's valuable to be reminded, through such a distillation, of how the city is perceived externally. For those living here the pertinent issues remain, of course, on inequalities and the need for social justice, and yet to ask oneself whether the city is unified, for example, sees a positive response in such a simulation. To the Spanish, at least, the associated shifts in racial and ethnic demographics have come to shape the perceived culture of the city. Elevating the contributions of immigrants to what is essential in the city is certainly promising. In only the most superficial and lighthearted way, of course.

Posted by: Jaffer Kolb on 28/06/07



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