Author Topic: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...  (Read 2350 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15620
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
...since I was last there in 1988?  When I was in Spain in 1993 I had coffee with a British couple who said that it became far more expensive and that I wouldn't recognize London anymore because it had become
"very American."

I hate the idea of that.

Snowy Owl

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1207
I don't know how you found London in 1988 so it's a bit hard to say conclusively whether it's changed or not. 

I wouldn't say it's become American.  I struggle to satisfy my craving for root beer for one thing.   ;) :).  There are Americans and there are some American chain restaurants but when I went to the US I felt that it was very different from the UK so probably not.   

London is expensive compared to the rest of the country.  It's dirty and full of people and busy and loud and has the same social problems as any big city.  There is still the sense of history and the past peeping through the present.  When I cross Waterloo Bridge I still marvel at the beauty of the river and St Paul's facing one way and the Parliament looking the other.  It still has the buses and the black taxis that are iconic in many ways.  The museums are still there as are the endless streams of tourists getting lost and milling around. 

I don't know what it is you think might have changed.  Can you enlarge on what you liked about London last time so I (and some of the other Brits) can tell you if it's changed. 



And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.

Friedrich Nietzsche

veryfluffy

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2871
I would say that in 1988 it was genuinely difficult to get a decent coffee in much of the UK, including London. You now have huge numbers of coffee shops, especially in London -- and not all are Starbucks. That is more "American", probably, but I'd say it's a good thing. Then again, the coffee revolution hadn't really happened in America 25 years ago either, so maybe it is just a 21st century phenomenon that has become international.

Food is also significantly better now -- fantastic restaurants, especially at the upper end of the market. Much better pizza now -- in 1988 they were still doing things like "chicken and sweetcorn"  :o on pizza. But the style of pizza is much more influenced by Italian than American tastes.

And yes, still almost impossible to get root beer.

So what did you think made London not-American? What would you associate with it then?
   

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15620
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
I wonder whether change happens everywhere.  The British gentleman's comment about London becoming more American bothered me because I don't want to vacation in a foreign city to have it feel like I never left home.  When I was last in London there were pubs near the Portobello Road market that were serving food that was typically "American", which had not been the case two years earlier.

One thing that's been happening in New York is that neighborhood food -- even in my neck of the woods -- is starting to bland out.  I had a meatball parm sandwich last month in a pizzeria that's been around a long time and it was so bland it tasted like it was made by Chef Boyardee (a brand marketed to children).

veryfluffy

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2871
When I was last in London there were pubs near the Portobello Road market that were serving food that was typically "American", which had not been the case two years earlier.

What do you call typically "American"? I can think of, say, hamburgers, hot dogs....

These days, especially in a posh area like Notting Hill, you are more likely to find a pub serving Thai food than scampi and chips.
   

Thipu1

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6319
I'm American and have visited London every few years since 1970.  My last visit was in the autumn of 2012 so I think I'm fairly up to date.
London is more  expensive than it used to be but that's true of every major city.

Retailers associated with the USA are becoming  more prevalent but there are differences.  On our last visit, we stopped in at a 'Staples' to pick up a note pad.  I was delighted to find a brand of German pen that  'Staples' in the US doesn't carry.

Food was always decent in London.  Now, there seems to be more ethnic variety in restaurants. We visited an Indian restaurant and the owner took great pains to tell us that his place served 'authentic, Indian vegetarian food'.  He was proud of his menu and rightly so.     

  In the 1980s we took several trips to northern Scotland on Britrail. When the train stopped for half an hour, it was our habit to hit the local M&S food hall to take back  a cold tandoori chicken and a
trio pack of salads.  Perhaps it's because we're now older, but the food doesn't taste quite as good.  We do wish NYC had 'Pret a Manger'.  The food, especially the porridge and the soups, is delicious. 

Dirty, noisy, fast-- London is all that.  Every important city changes and every one who lives there
thinks the old ways were better but the changes are not always for the worse.  London is vital and
Historic and as much fun as ever.  We look forward to visiting it again next year.   

   

 

« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 02:22:08 PM by Thipu1 »

scotcat60

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 373
More brances of Starbucks, more of MacDonalds, but we haven't got a Walmart in London - yet.

More crowded. It seems to me that blocks of flats are being built on any spare piece of land big enough to accommodate a rabbit hutch, either that or office space is bing converted into living space, especially in the heart of London.

Anniissa

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 174
The food is definitely better both at the higher end and in terms of being able to get decent food at a reasonable price especially as there is such a wide variety of great ethnic restaurants (Indian, Vietnamese, all sorts of South American, Spanish, Italian, North African etc etc). Although that doesn't mean there is still not a contingent of overpriced, poor quality food offerings just that it is a lot easier to find better options!  Actually, in terms of becoming "more American" one of the big food trends right now in London is "American" food - lots of new hot dog places, all sorts of burgers from sliders to gourmet burgers, much more barbecue.

One noticeable change is all the new buildings - lots of big new tall buildings going up changing the skyline a bit with the "Gherkin", the Shard, the "Cheesegrater", the "Mobile Phone"... but there's still that great mix of the ultramodern right amongst the terribly historic.

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15620
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
Sometime in the 80s or 90s my mother visited her sisters in Frankfurt and sent me a postcard with a bird's eye view of a section of the city that had traditional buildings on one side of a street and new construction on the other.  When she came back she said "They're rebuilding the whole city; it's going to be more modern.  That's great." 

I asked her why she thought it great that soon it would look like any generic US city.  No answer.

squashedfrog

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 499
Don't know why, but this thread reminds me of a conversation I had with an Aussie friend of mine many years back, when walking though the centre of London, she could understand why there were some ugly 20th century buildings next to the beautiful Georgian and medieval buildings. I pointed out that many buildings had gone up after the second world war, and she asked why on earth we'd go knocking down buildings in london during the war?

 .....um....love her to bits, but a definite brain burp moment :-)


scotcat60

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 373


she asked why on earth we'd go knocking down buildings in london during the war?


Like the young friend of a friend who said why were house not built with garages, to save people having to park on the street. Friend explained that when the house were built, the great majority of occupiers did not have cars, and with some houses cars were not even invented when they were built.

scotcat60

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 373
 the "Cheesegrater", the "Mobile Phone

These names for modern buildings are new ones on me. I do know of "The Crash Helmet" which describes the mayoral building next to Tower Bridge rather neatly, given it's shape.

And the view of the Shard from the ground is not beautiful IMHO, in spite of the TV advert which encourages people to admire the beautiful view from its higher floors.

Anniissa

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 174
the "Cheesegrater", the "Mobile Phone

These names for modern buildings are new ones on me. I do know of "The Crash Helmet" which describes the mayoral building next to Tower Bridge rather neatly, given it's shape.


They're both new buildings being worked on currently - The Leadenhall building is nicknamed the "Cheesegrater" because of its wedge shape and criss-cross steelwork and 20 Fenchurch Street is the "Mobile Phone" or "Walkie Talkie" because of its shape which is reminiscent of a walkie talkie or old Nokia phone. They're both nicknames so I don't know whether they'll stick but the Gherkin nickname seems to have stuck so probably they will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/122_Leadenhall_Street http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20_Fenchurch_Street

Clarissa

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 73
I live in England, but have only visited London twice. Yes it's expensive, and I have heard that there is now more American style coffee shops in London than there is in New York. That's not a bad thing though. All of England is changing, taking in different cultures. It has changed so much in my lifetime(I'm 33). As long as we hold on to our heritage, and remain proud of it, it can only improve.

Anniissa

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 174
There's definitely more coffee shops now - although there seems to be a move away now from the American style coffee shops like Starbucks and other big chains. What I haven't seen happening so much is the same sort of coffee shop culture that I've seen over in the US. Whenever I've been over there I have been surprised by how popular coffee shops are in the evening and how late they are open. There are very few coffee shops here that are open late in the evening. Most I would guess are closed by about 6pm. The very few that are open in the evening never seem to have many customers sat in them. If people are out in the evening they're going to be in a pub or bar most likely.