Londinium dates back to Roman times

Where its ambitious administrators hailed from sunnier climes.

And with the fall of Rome came new masters aplenty

Vikings, Saxons and Norman gentry.


Feudal London was blighted by plague and fire

Life was brutish, living conditions dire.

But mercantile trade began to expand


London pre-eminent, king of the land.

The rise of capitalism consolidated London Town

The bourgeoisie emerged, workers ground down.

Marx in his library planning a better world

The proletarian banner blood red and unfurled.

While the merchants and bankers made fortunes apace

A global empire created, ancient peoples laid waste.


Amidst the occupations and power struggles, of which there were many

Travellers arrived in search of a penny.

And a safe haven from persecution too

The Irish, the Huguenots and the ostracized Jew.


The Empire twice challenged by Imperial Germany

Ten of millions perished in a global infirmary.

London in ruins, bloody and battered,

Victorious but exhausted, colonial empire lay shattered.


Arising from the ashes, a welfare state created.

London rebuilt, though reforms half-hearted and belated.

A new equilibrium between capital and labour

Will the old trade unions rise to be the working class saviour?


London being once the capital of a planet wide empire

Attracted disenfranchised citizens who could finally aspire

To be free to develop their untapped potential

And for London their labour was most essential.

They were workers not shirkers, they had families to feed,

And they enriched the capital by their every conceivable creed.


But their experiences were far from being a bowl of flowers,

With a bigoted populous and obstructive powers.

Having confronted fascism face to face

The British establishment still acted like the master race.


But inch by inch the racism subsided

As races and cultures mingled and collided.

And a more cosmopolitan London began to emerge

Though the best of the city was still a wealthy preserve.


For the people of colour and the white working class

Any talk of equality was patently a farce.

And the building of luxury apartments obscenely perverse

While the housing crisis grew alarmingly worse.


And the capital's schools are as different as chalk from cheese,

Subsidized private education just a middle class wheeze.

Social mobility becoming a fading dream,

The corporate elite grinning like the cat with the cream.


Extremes of poverty, extremes of wealth,

Blighting lives, eroding health.

Two worlds coexisting side by side,

Life chances a hundred million miles wide.


Now the Oligarchs and Sheiks strut like they own the city

Bulldozing down communities for investment, it's a crying pity.

It's social engineering on a giant scale,

While the banks plunder the profits too big to fail.

Politicians of all persuasions too weak to intervene

While The City of London makes dirty money clean.

And zero hour contracts become the norm of the day,

And millions eke out an existence on poverty pay.


Yet it's patently obvious, nothing could be clearer,

That London has many delights, some dating back to the Victorian era.

The parks and the canals and the wonderful Thames,

And a cultural creativity that never seems to end.


London offers a glimpse into a distant future,

To a harmonised world in which a giant suture

Knits together the tribes of a fractured past

Binding us together like a giant elastoplast.

Though without social investment nothing will last.

We better act now and we better act fast.

For the next London riots might be worse than the last.


End, JPK Copyright, 9/12/14

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Last Updated ( Monday, 21 May 2018 07:41 )