chapter  5
Pages 15

In Hong Kong in the early 1980s, a social housing project built fl ats for a community of boat people, moving them from their fl oating residences onto shore. This was perceived as ‘bettering’ them, or perhaps ‘civilising’ them. The architect, pleased with his work, revisited the project six months after the resettlement and was astonished at what he saw. The fi tted cupboards had been ripped out and the entire fl oor covered with decking, raising the surface by half a metre. Through this, below-deck hatches had been constructed for storage. In this new environment the boat people had re-created their old one, replacing the strange new fi ttings with a means of storage that was familiar and reassuring. It is a tale repeated on many levels around the word. Travel to Majorca, and in different holiday resorts around the coast you will fi nd places which (certain) Britons or Germans can feel quite at home in, with tandoori chicken or sauerkraut displacing local delicacies. Re-creating the familiar is something that many people indulge in as part of generating for themselves ontological security. This refers to the comfort and familiarity of ‘everyday lives’, doing things one day after another. Giddens (1995: 11) considered that in non-capitalist societies everyday life was geared to tradition, with time experienced as part of the re-enactment of traditional practices. I see the creation of London in this vein, as being the re-establishment of a familiar environment by the cosmopolitan population who visited, resided or were seconded there.