C17: Day 138 – Different but the same

by Suw on May 18, 2017

The weird thing about returning to London after a few years away is how much the same it is, and yet, how very different. I’m sitting in the Camera Museum cafe on Museum Street, Holborn, and whilst the place is very much the same as it’s always been, it’s quite different. I used to come here regularly – a cafe that was very much tucked away and unknown, with free wifi and nice food, was a rare and valuable find. You used to have to walk through a camera shop to get to a tiny cafe at the back. But now, however many years later, the cafe is the part that you walk through to get to the camera shop, plus it has a camera museum downstairs. It’s still lovely, and still run by the same chap, who even remembered me from all those years ago, and it’s still a fabulous little gem in the centre of London.

London’s changed in other ways too many to mention, whilst also being very much the same place it’s always been. And that will always be the case. A big city like this doesn’t stand still but no matter how it changes, it stays the same. It will always be London, it will always have that undefinable Londonness about it that no amount of development can take away. I know there are lots of issues where iconic building have been lost, and whilst that’s sad, London is not at risk of losing all the things that make it special. It never will.

This is something I think we really need to recognise, that a place can change without becoming lesser, without losing its special sauce. London’s always been a diverse city, and that diversity is its strength. It is adaptable, indefatigable, and resilient precisely because there are so many people here from somewhere else who bring adaptability and new ideas. We need to celebrate that, especially in the face of the current move towards insularity and isolationism.

The Camera Cafe might now be the Camera Museum, the chairs might have moved, and the downstairs might be a museum now, but it’s still wonderful. It’s just the same as it ever was, even though it’s different.


Ridley Kemp May 19, 2017 at 10:22 pm

I love this. I’m currently living in Austin, Texas, USA, and it’s changed so much over the last couple of decades and yet…it’s still the most Austin place I know.

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