George Alagiah interviews us on the BBC
Wednesday 6 June 2007
‘I prefer New York’
Alex Horne – 6th June 2007
Well, following on from El Salvador’s concise notes, here’s the encounter that took place two minutes after seeing those parakeets. Again, apologies if it sounds curt, I had to rush something out for The Observer (who then didn’t rush something out for us) (but they still might and I’m still very grateful!) and with our current b(ack)log situation, I’m keen to get as much posted as soon as possible.
So here goes:
After Antonio’s love of the city and general gratefulness towards the UK it was actually quite refreshing to meet someone who didn’t really like London all that much.
Anette is 28. She’s working as a receptionist in the building where Antonio’s office is located, about ten minutes walk from Parsons Green. She started work last week and Antonio soon clocked her as a fellow Central American. ‘Olá’ they said to each other before he explained our quest. She was happy to help.
She’d come to London from New York. There you aren’t allowed to work while studying. Here you are. She’s finished studying now and is looking for something more permanent than her current job. Ideally back in New York.
‘I prefer New York’, she told me. ‘No offence. People there are just nicer, more friendly. Here people are quite grumpy. Especially on the tube’. It was hard to argue with this point.
She lives with two Polish flatmates and after two years has virtually no English friends. She also has no Panamanian friends. ‘I did meet the son of a lady from Panama but she’d been here for years and he was born here so he’s British really. I found out that last year there were only 25 people from Panama in the whole of the UK!’ This was, of course, music to my ears.
Unfortunately that was all we had time for. My car was parked on Parsons Green and the meter ran out in five minutes. I ran back and made it without getting a ticket. I did forget to pay the congestion charge though so have to pay an extra £2 today. And there was still congestion. But I didn’t mind too much. I’d found a Panamanian needle in a grumpy haystack.