London: a tale of two cities

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ACCORDING to latest figures, the average pay in 2010 for FTSE 100 company directors – most of whom live in London – was £2.7m (43 per cent increase on the previous year).

Meanwhile, claimants in London on Housing Benefit totalled 818,000 (Department for Work & Pensions, 2011).

Now, if that doesn’t point to a tale of two cities, what does?

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And should further proof be needed, just look at the number of recent, high-end restaurant openings in London – catering for all these wealthy company directors, bankers and oligarchs only too willing to splash out. I’m thinking here about the recently opened Cut and 34 in Mayfair.

Restaurants that you don’t visit just because the food’s OK, or because it costs £46 for a fish (yes, really!), or because some hot, London-based food critic has reviewed it.

You go because you spend your life meeting and doing business with people and you want to meet and do business with them in congenial surroundings – and usually on expenses.


In other words, the funding for Mayfair restaurants relies primarily on their role as business meeting venues for the super-rich – not for ordinary food-lovers to meet, eat and socialise.

In fact, it’s all a bit of a waste of time reviewing this type of restaurant when there are hundreds throughout the country serving up good quality food in tough times.

Restaurants like The Drunken Meerkat in Bollweevil-under-Lyme, Salmonella’s in Nether Wallop and My Plaice in Steeple Bumpstead where they actually need the attention because otherwise they’ll face… bankruptcy.


(The most feared word in the whole restaurant business, worse even than “By the way, chef, where’s your plaster?” or, “Michael Winner’s ordered the defibrillator”).

Fancy Mayfair restaurants can look after themselves because those who eat there have little in the way of taste or passion.

They do, though, have extremely fat wallets. Nasty taste all round. Which all goes to show how well the present Coalition is doing.

Only the two ends of the social scale are growing: the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer – and not just in London.

Finally, on a really positive note, I’d like to thank those readers who’ve left comments about my novels on my website and EWN’s on the ‘Columns’ link. Happy reading!

Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) now available at Amazon.es in paperback and eBook (€0.89; Amazon UK: £0.77). Profits to Cudeca

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