Who is London?
London is International and Cosmopolitan
Nineteenth century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli stated even way back then that “London is a nation, not a city” – reflecting its size, cosmopolitan composition and diversity. London continues to be international and cosmopolitan as may be seen from the organisations with bases in London, the variety of cuisine and catering, the 20 million visitors per year from all over the world – including quite a lot of project managers.
It started with the Romans – and keeps going...
The cosmopolitan nature of London may be seen as starting with the Romano British who were Celts who took up Roman cultures and lifestyles within an international (well, European) trading port influenced by people from the Roman empire – and not those just from Rome – followed by Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Norman invaders, Jewish traders, Hanseatic merchants, Lombard bankers, Huguenot refugees, Irish workers, Commonwealth immigrants after the Second World War and continuing from Europe and the rest of the world – and frequently in more than one generation or period.
Many first generations might have had particular trades or skills; second generations may concentrate in particular areas and later generations may be assimilated and disseminated across the capital and the nation.
A Large Population
Depending how it is calculated London has a population of between 8 and 9 million people – including many project managers. Within the metropolitan area there are 18 million – this is within a population of 53 million in England and 66 million in whole of United Kingdom – with many project managers and project orientated organisations. There is a daily commuter belt of about 13 million people – including many project managers. This means the daytime population of London is far greater than the night time population so there is a “rush hour” at the beginning and end of every working day. There were 3.27 million households registered in London in the 2011 census. (In Tudor times around 1600 there was a population of about 90,000 people. However in about 1900 in the prime of railways, but before the internal combustion engine had made its impact, it is estimated there was a population of 300,000 horses in London, with all the commercial, industrial and agricultural implications.)
Mind Your Language
London is in the United Kingdom where the main language is English, with over 200 other languages spoken in London – or possibly over 300 – Bengali and Polish follow English in popularity at present.
In London 78% of people speak English as their main language, 20% speak English well or fairly well, 3.5% not well and 0.5% not at all. These proportions vary considerably across the London area with ethnic occupations and concentrations.
Translations are available into some other European languages at selected locations and systems; as well as many translation applications on hand-held electronic devices. For project managers the English language for project management can be appraised from the APM Glossary of Terms – www.apm.org.uk>glossary .
And there are the ongoing trials to establish a universal greeting for project managers at www.bistamundi.com.
London has its own accents in English such as in South (pronounced ‘Sarrf’) London, Estuary English and Cockney Rhyming Slang – for example where Barnet (fair) equates to hair.
London accented speakers include such as Michael Caine – in some of his films; Adele when speaking rather than singing; but probably not Dick van Dyke in the Mary Poppins film. London taxi drivers can reflect most accents and dialects.
There is not much Morris Dancing in London anymore, and only a few people dress as Pearly Kings and Queens. But they can still be seen each year at the Harvest Festival in the City of London (not Westminster).
In times gone by it was believed that the streets of London were paved with gold. This has never been true and for several centuries they were covered with something quite different.
There is always ‘However’
There is plenty to dislike about London. There always has been. But it is usually outweighed by the likeable – except for the real disasters. And the interesting thing is that much that is dislikeable changes or is resolved or diminishes in its priority of dislike-ability.