Here I am using Waterstone’s 5th floor cafe. “Using”; well with the coffee and cake costing almost ten pounds, we can hardly call it a free internet connection, can we? Still, it does appear to be fast and …. well, the exorbitant prices keep out the riff-raff, don’t they? Yes, keeps out the riff-raff.
Stafford’s Westfield shopping centre, which houses a branch of Waitroses and a Marks and Spencer’s’, does a similar job. At the end of the mall you can walk over the bridge to slightly run-down Stafford shopping centre, where you will find a pound shop, and even a 99p shop, and a Sainsburys. Through the mall and onto the road across from Newham and we can get a glimpse into ghosts of London past. Almost Dickensian the down and outs huddled up together outside the mall.
Gated communities are still few and far between in Blighty’s “Big Smoke”, no people checking people’s dress at the entrance to Westfield shopping centre either, but no denying it, the “capital of the Empire” is becoming increasingly like what it might have been in the days of Oliver Twist and, oh, before I forget it, it is already very much closer to Shanghai or Shenzhen, than it is to Stuttgart or Stockholm.