When people think of London, they think of the pomp and circumstance  associated with the Royal family.  The history behind Westminster Abbey and the iconic landmarks like Big Ben, the London Eye or Madam Toussad’s.

Big Ben at night. it was even more beautiful in person

But how many people get to see this London:

Graffitti in South London, there is lots of this all over the city

or this:

liquor bottle that I had to pick up from my seat on the Tube before I could sit down, I thought it had the makings of a funny picture. It also points to something else that London has a lot of: drunk people. Perhaps not more than any other major city, but perhaps more than what London is thought to have.

More Graffitti

Graffiti, hussle and flow, lower middle class London?  How many people are aware of its existence?  It’s not as if it’s hidden, but it seems to me now, that the American stereotype of Britain is something akin to what I read in those wonderful Victorian era novels.   Of course, this has changed somewhat in light of the riots in England during summer 2011.  I loved strolling through the less touristy parts of this great city, as it gave me insight into the lives of every-day people.

 International calling services are Big buisness in London

This sign at the bus stop points to the flood of immigrants here.  Walking through parts of North or South London (where I stayed) was like walking through the burrows of New York.  A lot of major cities have diverse populations, but I am not talking about a sort of plastic cosmopolitanism.  I mean I stepped into a world that felt like through London, I had traveled to so many different parts of the world by just walking down one city block: The Somali 1 pound store next to the Cyprian owned restaurant, two doors down from the Jamaican carry-out (that incidentally is run by Turks) which is just across the street from the Pakistani run fried chicken place.  All of this and just around the corner the Irish pub sits just beyond a row of houses where orthodox Jews live and the restaurant where the Romanians and Ukranians congregate.

After this trip, London is even more a great city to me, not because of its proximity to European fashions, or its touristy thoroughfare, but because of the everyday people who live, work, survive and thrive here.

NQ- England, January 2011