In the wake of the burglaries in Bloomsbury Towers I have spent many a day and night reclaiming the apartment as home. The repaint is underway, the CCTV is installed and the locks are changed. We still have the delegation from China downstairs but two out of three ‘aint bad. After seriously doubting London for the first time in thirty-five years, I am also making friends with my city again. I am honestly perturbed that there are about ten Chinese people in Bloomsbury to every local on any given street but this might calm down as I do and I will care less.
You can’t say anything these days without some snowflake hysterically screaming ‘hate crime’. Quite frankly, I think the locals are entirely justified in raising concerns when the demographic of the neighbourhood is changed radically in a matter of a few short years. Chinese students are flooding our educational system and either buying or renting all the property in prestige university quarters like Bloomsbury. They are pricing the locals out as we see independent bookshops and local delis closed-down to be replaced by Bubble Tea boutiques and Chinese restaurants as has happened in Bloomsbury.
I would imagine the Communist Party would have something to say if an airfreight of gays settled in Chengdu and decided to host a gay pride march regardless of local opposition. Christ, if it happened in the Gulf States hands would be chopped off never mind tutting locals on the streets. London is one of the most welcoming cities in the world. Chinatown, the Italian quarter and the Gulf State that is Knightsbridge have long been assimilated as culturally significant for communities other than Londoners. Now the whole of London is Chinatown.
What comforts me in Bloomsbury is continuity despite upheaval. When I am long cold in the grave, the statue of Charles James Fox that has stood for over two centuries will still stand guard over Bloomsbury Square. The old rake stares impassively up towards Russell Square where he is eyeball to distant eyeball with his friend the Duke of Bedford’s statue regardless of the flotsam and jetsam that washes around him decade by decade.
I suspect that Bloomsbury will retain its character when the Chinese tsunami has eddied to a trickle again. I hope I will be alive to see it reclaimed by the writers, the academics, the Bohemians and the esoteric people who have been drawn to this magical neighbourhood for centuries. One of my favourite prints of Bloomsbury Square is the era pre-1799 when my house was built and the North side of the square was dominated by Bedford House.
Bedford House was razed to the ground when Bloomsbury fell out of fashion in the twilight of the 18th century. The print shows that the footprint of Bloomsbury Towers was landscaped grounds in front of an imposing mansion. My view from the back of the house would have been directly on the facade of Bedford House. In the dead of night, the light plays tricks and I imagine candles flickering while a grand 18th century ball is underway hosted by successive Duchesses of Bedford.
I am in a mood indigo at the moment nesting in Bloomsbury again and licking wounds after the house was violated by the scum who stole my family jeweller … and the rest. The law is entirely on the side of cracked-out crooks and I have no hope of recovering the property generations of my family worked very hard to have made. If karma is king then these vermin will be writhing in a gutter somewhere with a needle in their arm and no pulse. We bear a grudge in this family.
Writing the Henry Poole & Co monograph with Thames & Hudson, I have been delving into countless revolutions in the 19th and 20th centuries that toppled monarchies and I feel we have a perfect storm for another one in England right now. This revolution will not be anti-monarchy. It is directed towards what I would call the new establishment: civil servants, bankers, public sector quangos, pension-rich jobsworths and politicians who have feathered their nests egregiously at the cost of the common man.
I feel particularly riled and revolutionary at present having been a tax-payer all my life (and don’t I know it) who has never previously burdened the state bar the NHS. I believe in self-sufficient citizenship and a major lack of intervention from government in our private lives. It makes me spit that bleeding heart liberals send knife crime thugs on group hug courses and that violent burglars get suspended sentences. I hate to read of six figure salaries for ineptitude and the abuse of power at the very highest level.
But the backlash I think will be directed towards the celebrity class and their hereditary offspring who are the new royal families. Social media might have made them but it can destroy them just as easily. We’re all fed-up of hearing entitled lucky bitches on multi-million-per-picture salaries bleating about fairness for women. Go tell that to someone on benefits. We’re bored of Kardashian, Beckham, Ramsay etc kids now infesting the yellow press. I wish they would all disappear which they do if you don’t take any notice. Starve them of the oxygen of publicity on social media and watch them melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. Try it. Go on. I endorse you.