I am not somebody that’s roused very often by sad events on the news, mainly because it all seems so remote, but when it came to the fire at Grenfell Tower, something inside me broke. There was a woman on question time and who summed up the mood, what happened at Grenfell Tower is what is wrong with the UK at present.
Having been a Londoner for many years and still commuting there, but currently residing in Space 186, the block somehow represents London. I have lived in many a poor mans area, paying rent and getting by. It’s the block that encapsulates London, the ethnic diversity that it is made up of and the faces of those perished or missing are those that are so familiar. These are the neighbourhoods I have lived in and loved. From the distance you see the metal glow of the financial city whilst you sit and eat your dinner in your cramped apartment with only a thin wall separating you from your neighbour. The people are starkly different to one another yet able to get on and get by. United in poverty. If not poverty, just an ordinary life well lived, experiencing the same worries and anxieties and joys of family life inside a busy city. It sounds patronising, but its how I feel. I wouldn’t choose to be amongst any other people. They are the life blood of what London is.
When that building went up in flames, it’s a tear right through London’s heart. The borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a borough like so many, poor and rich live side by side. That’s part of its diversity. It’s how its always been. Gentrification is a word you keep hearing and it’s happening rapidly and it’s very ugly. What disturbs me is how the life blood have been pushed out, stamped upon and told that this is not the city for them.
It was the cladding on the tower to cause the fire to spread the way it did. The £10m cladding was a vanity project, so not to be an eye sore to the rich residents buying up Kensington. For an extra £2 per square meter to use a fire safe material was a decision ignored. It shows how low these peoples lives are esteemed. They were not welcome to live in the city of London. That’s the ugly truth. It’s the cladding of London, masking its real life blood and morphing into this lifeless and joyless city. This city I can no longer call my home and these new residents buying it up, are people I no longer see as my own.
From the sincerity of Corbyn to the stale appearance of May, we are living in class Britain where your future is dictated by how rich you are or are not. The inequality gap is a black gaping hole. It shows the reality of the nation divided, the United Kingdom.
It’s been five days and the building is still smouldering. The open wound of London. My deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one. This shouldn’t have happened to you.