Welcome to the final instalment of our latest Tale for Our Time - my summer diversion on a theme of H G Wells. In tonight's concluding episode of Out of Time, our Victorian time-traveler realizes that a suicide cult this determined will not be deterred:
I was a fool to have tried to prevent Weena's fate. It is one thing to voyage into the future; quite another to live through the present and then journey back into the past to try to prevent it. I had forgotten my Aristotle:
'What has happened cannot be made not to have happened.'
Ah, but, as Charlotte informs him, Aristotle has been canceled.
Last night's episode, with its great conflagration in the heart of London, prompted this comment from First Year Founding Member Catherine Allinson:
Yes of course the death toll was terrible but one of the reasons why it took so long to identify the Grenfell Tower dead was because almost all of the flats were illegally sublet and so Kensington & Chelsea Council had no idea who was living there. We've had similar scandals here in Islington where the council is completely disinterested in doing the necessary checks of who is living in council accommodation to see if there is evidence of illegal subletting.
Yes, indeed, Catherine - as I wrote at the time, mainly because I was staggered that none of the Fleet Street guys did:
Last year, across town on the outer reaches of the District Line in East London, I took a stroll along streets of terraced houses marveling at the garbage piled up in the small front yards, far beyond what one would expect a 'three-bedroom' house ever to be able to generate and certainly beyond the capacity of traditional municipal trash collection... My expert local guide could tell from the mountains of detritus which addresses were ad hoc lodging houses for transient Romanian laborers and which were the compounds of vast extended families of fecund Bangladeshis. But in neither case do terms like 'one-bedroom flat' and 'three-bedroom house' have the same meaning they do for those marketing the delights of 3 Merchant Square...
So "illegal subletting" is in Kensington, and Newham, and your part of Islington. Perhaps the easier question is: Where isn't it? And, if "illegal subletting" is accepted in every borough in London, in what sense is it "illegal"? If you import the Third World on the scale the UK does (and America, Canada, etc), you become the Third World:
Official London turns a blind eye - and moneyed London, media London, banking London is barely even aware of the favelas and shanties arising in their midst.
Thank you so much for your compliments about Tales for Our Time during these hellish times. Some like the ripping yarns for boys, some the more genteel social comedy for girls, and some of you even enjoy our bit of summer whimsy from yours truly. But of the tales in totality all seem to be in favour.
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