London: A portal into other worlds

London: A portal into other worlds

Another way in which London has become a global city is that it has become a portal through which many other worlds can be easily accessed. This has been enabled physically by the large number of airports that London has, Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Stanstead, Luton and Southend. The Channel Tunnel provides train routes into Western Europe and there has always been the River Thames.

Taken together with new information technologies, readily available in London, such as email, the internet, satellite television and mobile phones means that people can essentially have two (or more) bases, one being the place of their birth, the place where their family continues to live, and London, their office, which they can jet into and out of, and whilst they are staying in their London residence, they can have satellite TV and internet beam in all the latest news from their country of origin, in their mother tongue, whilst have phone conversations, internet chat and Facetime with friends and family back home, keeping in touch, and organizing what they are going to do at the weekend or during the holidays.

Likewise when these new Londoners are elsewhere in the world, technology allows them to maintain close links with their London residence. Chris Partridge, writing in 2008, wrote about how redeveloped flats in Belgravia, designed for the world’s super-rich, came equipped with cameras, allowing the owner to view all the rooms of his house in real time, from wherever he is in the world.

Weird to think then, that bits of London, suspended in the air, can be monitored from Riyadh, Beijing and Moscow, as the global elite, pull their global belongings together.

Never in history, me thinks, has one person being able to so confidently claim, assert, defend and survey small amounts of territory scattered all around the globe.

London’s immigrants can make the home from home feeling even more authentic by importing in food products, which are often easily purchasable or importable into London. Greeks import olive oil, Spanish immigrants have their mothers bring in suitcases of chorizo and cheese, mama always brings Italian pasta.

Some people can live and work in London, experiencing it not as a different city or country, but just a Hilton Hotel, where one goes to live and work, and then returns home, virtually on weekday evenings, and physically on evenings and during the holidays.

Of course for most immigrants, there is the opportunity if wanted, to develop a smaller version of what they left back home. It is as if London has become a portal, through which different cultures and people have passed, oozing out, and spawning new colonies in London. A China Town in Soho, a new Jerusalem in Golders Green, little Paris in South Kensington.

London is frequently referenced as the biggest community of particular types of immigrants outside the capital city of that immigrant population.

Efforts are made to preserve that country outside of the country. Men maintain a tight control of their women, keeping them at home, making sure they don’t know how to speak English and relate to others. Americans and French establish private American and French language schools. France and Italy presidential and parliamentary elections involve foreign constituencies, which include London, requiring politicians to campaign in London for the emigrant population, and promising them new French speaking schools in London. London then by becoming this microcosm of the world, becomes a territory, which governments of other lands project resources on to, and attempt to manipulate and develop, for the betterment of their emigrants.


  • Sudjic, D. (2008) Cities on the Edge of Chaos, The Guardian, 9th March 2008
  • Style City London (2006), Thames and Hudson
  • Hargraves, O. (2009) Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette London, Marshall Cavendish Editions
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  • Q&A London’s green belt, 15th August 2007, BBC online.
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  • The Sydney Morning Herald (2006) Nomadic world of super-rich. The Sydney Morning Herald. June 19th, 2006.
  • Partridge, C. (2008) London’s elite homes: The super-prime boon. The Independent, 7th May 2008.
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  • McConnell, S. (2002) Who owns London, London Evening Standard, 2nd April, 2002.
  • Who owns London? (2008) Richest
  • The Portman Estate website.
  • The Cadogan Estate website.

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