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2:28pm on Wednesday, 29th October, 2014:

Changing and Not Changing


I found myself in Brick Lane, London, yesterday evening.

Last time I was in Brick Lane must have been about 1990. I went there because some American MUD players had told me about this type of bread called a "bagel" that we couldn't get in UK shops. There was, however, a Jewish bakery in Brick Lane that did a roaring trade in them and I should go there. I did, I bought a bagel, I figured I'd probably like them better toasted.

Back then, Brick Lane was still a mainly Jewish street. Yesterday, though, I didn't see any evidence of this past. It's now almost completely a Bengali street, packed with curry houses (several of which are award-winning). It would appear that Brick Lane has rather changed, then.

It's not, though. The reason it's not is because Brick Lane has always been about immigrants. Communities come to the East End, they settle, they prosper, they leave, then another community arrives. The Bengalis replaced the Jews, who in turn replaced the Irish, who in turn replaced the Huguenots. A hundred years from now, it'll be another group; a hundred years later, another.

So although the people and character of Brick Lane have changed, they haven't. In some sense, they're the same as they always were.

I can now buy bagels in my local supermarket.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).