Friday, 31 December 2010

Beery litter louts

Before leaving London, Moni and I went for a long walk from the posh Cleveland Park area where I lived as a teenager to Hanwell where I spent my childhood. Drabness and decay; once proud Victorian and Edwardian buildings spoilt with back-lit plastic, garish paint and a here-to-day, gone-tomorrow approach to commerce quite absent from the solidity of yore.

In a word, West Ealing to me symbolises Britain's decline. Yes, you can escape - the affluent migrant-free villages the lie beyond the cities' economic catchment areas. Or emigrate. Faces on West Ealing Broadway are either coloured or Polish, or belong to the handful of indigenous Brits that didn't have the gumption to move out over the past half-century.

Yet what of the houses, of the generic terraced Victorian two-up two-downs that were once home to the traditional British working classes? Who can afford the £250,000 - £300,000 for a small, draughty, 130 year-old house in a grotty neighbourhood between the council flats and the railway line? Certainly not someone on a £13,000 service sector salary. Typically, it will be immigrant entrepreneurs and buy-to-let owners.

The well-known retail chains and posh department stores have closed down or moved on from the high street to the shopping centres like the one at Ealing Broadway a mile to the east, the shops in West Ealing cater to immigrants. As I mentioned last month, West Ealing is becoming visibly Polish.
Below: Please put your litter in a bin. The empty Polish beer container phenomenon was blogged last month by Toyah.

Left: Outside the Infants' building of my old school, Oaklands Road Primary.
The children's vegetable garden, in which I once grew salad cress, and an empty Tyskie bottle. O tempora! O mores!
Graffiti on Jacob's Ladder footbridge over the railway line, West Ealing. At least there are no foul oaths directed at Legia's management or owners or at KSP Polonia supporters.

Right: even posh Cleveland Park is not immune to signs of encroaching Polishness.
Growing up around here in the 1970s, I can say that there have always been a great many Polish families living around here, but Poles' presence has never been as physically visible in West Ealing as it is today. Different generation, different upbringing.


Island1 said...

Of course, Polish beer cans do not necessarily equal Polish consumers. When I was last in London Polish beer was becoming popular because it was cheap. I don't know if this is still the case.

student SGH said...

Sad is the decline...

Currency forecast report

On 26 January 2010 I predicted EUR/PLN rate today would be 3.88, today's NBP rate was 3.9607. With tolerance of +/- 0.05 PLN I got it wrong (but not missed by a long shot).

Out of three attempt to predict EUR/PLN rates, one was totally wrong (31 March 2010), one was right (30 June 2010), one was a near-hit (31 December 2010).

Maybe they won't fire me after the probationary period...

All the best in the new year

pinolona said...

Lots of discarded Tyskie cans in evidence near where I lived last year in Brussels. Polish beer doesn't really feature in Belgian supermarkets so I'm afraid it's unlikely to be locals taking advantage of low prices.

basia said...

Your last sentence summarizes the problem best: different generation, different upbringing.

It pained me to see all the litter and beer cans in the beautiful forests and parkland surrounding Wawa when I was there.

Holota? White trash effect?
Take your pick.

Michael Dembinski said...

Jamie's got a point... Polish beer is increasingly popular with UK underage tipplers because a) it's strong, b) it's sweet, c) it's cheap.

But generally, hearing the Polish voices in the quantity that one hears, I'd guess that much of the litter is indeed generated by Polish open-air beer consumers.

Anonymous said...

Tyskie is a Kompania Piwowarska's product ;)

White Horse Pilgrim said...

A bit of canny marketing by Polish drink manufacturers and there soon be a 'Tyskie belt' in Scotland to rival the 'Buckie belt'.

However, to be brutally honest after talking to younger British people, what bothers them isn't Polish beer cans littering the place but the fact that they can't get meaningful work on a living wage when Eastern Europeans will accept remuneration well below the legal minimum.

Anyway a Polish shop has opened in the small Oxfordshire town where I live. It's quite a contract in a row of charity shops. I'll drop by there: the food has to be more interesting than the bland supermarket stuff.

Anonymous said...

Come to Wakefield, you'll see more polish beer cans discarded than you can shake a stick at. Literally thousands of them in what is now becoming Wakefield's 'Polish quarter'.