Baby you’ve changed

I’ve spent the past eight years outside of the UK and have just recently returned for the first time since February 2002.

I cannot believe all of the changes that have taken place in my absence. First off, lets talk about the influx of immigrants which is a hot topic these days. I was absolutely staggered how many people from different parts of the world now call the UK home. I knew about the influx of eastern europeans, especially the poles, as I’d read about that over the last few years. However, the number of Muslims now living here is amazing to me. In the borough of Brent, which is apparently the most diverse borough in the country, there are countless numbers of Somalians, Iranians and those from Afghanistan. I never saw so many women in burkas.

Tesco have used the Wal-Mart blueprint and appear to have taken over the whole city with their metro and extra stores colonizing all corners of London. Fried chicken fast food shops appear to have mushroomed out of nowhere. The greasy birds seem to going down a treat with all the victims of the recession. No wonder obesity is on the rise. I also discovered the Oyster card. It seems to have revolutionized transport in London. Nobody appears to pay with cash….on the buses at least. I quite like the flexibility of the card though, plus it speeds up boarding on the bus.

Continuing with buses, I traveled on one of the infamous bendy buses. I understand it’s also known as the free bus as most people who board it don’t ever pay. Seems a bit strange to have a bus with multiple entrances and exits. I really don’t see the point of them. I’ve been told that the police routinely storm the buses to catch the fare evaders and the UK Border Agency, new to me, also snare any illegal immigrants that they find on the buses too. Wow! That just tells me how much London has changed when that is a regular occurrence.

Finally, I want to talk about contraflows. Bloody everywhere I go! They are a royal pain in the arse too. I’ve never seen anything like it. Literally every street now has one. Things were never this bad in the past. Digging up the streets seems to be the new way authorities have of pissing off commuters.

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