London - Home of the Canary Wolves

I wrote this in 2014 and it's been hiding in the drafts folder ever since. I thought I'd finally share it.

I was lucky enough to have a work event in Westminster where I stayed in a run-down area of London called Mayfair. I was in a 5* hotel called The Westbury. If you are aware of this hotel, well done! You are either a taxi driver or you are paid too much! It was around £200 a night for the cheapest room without breakfast, which came at the additional cost of £26 a day. A croissant was £8. 

I definitely feel more at home in a £10 a night hostel dorm where I'm woken up by some fat man snoring. I felt as out of place as one of the many prostitutes that visit establishments like this, to see their oligarch clients.

However, it is interesting to see how used to this lifestyle one can become in just a few days. The idea that this hotel costs more per night than some families live on for a week in the UK just doesn’t seem real when you walk down the streets of Mayfair. The area is incredibly prosperous and financial problems seemed as abstract to me, in that moment, as Africans not having clean water seems to an everyday Brit. You walk down the road and see bags, watches, and shoes costing more than the average yearly salary.

I find this level of wealth uncomfortable. I don't see a need for it and I don't see why anyone would spend so much on a bag or a pair of shoes. That said, I don’t think it's much good to take the Russell Brand style of vitriol hate against this group of elites. If you truly believe in compassion and love then I think it is up to us as citizens, not consumers, to recognise the kindness and the generosity of the elites. We need to encourage them to donate millions for new hospitals. If it helps we can name the institutions after them, to feed the ego of these illusive and eccentric millionaires.

But some are beyond redemption. What do we do with the Dan Bilzerians, who promote the lowest of the lows in this set of elites? Buzzfeed reckons he is Instagram's most interesting man. I say shut down Instagram then if this is the case. I recently discovered this type of celebrity that some people seem to hold up as idols and aspire to be like. He basically lives the life of the Wolf of Wall Street. A great film and terrifically acted, but Leo’s character was deplorable.

These people should be vilified and ostracised from the mainstream, yet a lot of people I speak to seem to admire them. To be a multi-millionaire and have a lavish lifestyle is one thing. But to be a young millionaire and spend your days on yachts, sleeping with prostitutes, being a drug addict, and ruining the lives of everyone around you should not be anyone’s dream. It doesn’t make you happy and it should not be the role model inspiring the next generation. 

There are over 100 billionaires in London. How many millionaires? Around 3% apparently. That means it's not thousands, nor tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands. Do they live the life of a Canary Wolf?

I believe that feeding the egos of these people is the way to save society. Rewarding their egos when they build schools by putting a fraction of the money into a statue of them outside, for their posterity. Force high net worth individuals into transparency by showing the public what charity work they carry out on top of how much tax they pay. Shame them into being more generous.

These are ideas that could inspire these elites to part with their excess wealth and start to contribute to building a grander world. Trickle down economics was a lie. It’s a “sucking up” economic system where inequality only grows. Maybe we can convince some of these people to spit out a few billion and help tackle the larger problems by rewarding their generosity.

I started this article to talk about London and the good time I had exploring the beautiful sights of my home city. It turned into a slight rant but I can’t help feeling these feelings when I see homeless people living in tents outside buildings that stay heated all night and have clean toilets. The juxtaposition is so extreme.

Anyway, enjoy the photos of London – my home town that makes me feel sad when I see the homeless and hungry on the streets. A city where inequality is as obvious as any other. However, it is a city surrounded by beauty and history. This is London.