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02/11/2006 - par Mark Tungate

This week was a London week. I was there on Tuesday doing an interview, and then yesterday I was transported to the London of the future, by the film Children of Men (« Le Fils de l'homme »). Strangely enough, the London in the film looked much more like the London I remember.

Your London probably looks like a cross between a Eurostar ad and Mary Poppins. My London was a grungy, dysfunctional, slightly frightening place. I lived in Brixton, an area ­resembling Château Rouge in Paris. My street was regularly cordoned off by police tape because somebody had been shot. In the morning, I would spend hours on the shambling, antiquated Tube, which always broke down. The pubs had all become Starbucks and the West End was full of fat drunk girls being sick.

The film takes all these ­elements and puts its foot on the accelerator. London has become a police state in which illegal immigrants are hunted down « like cockroaches » as one character puts its. If I still lived there I would undoubtedly have considered this an accurate vision.

But now I only go back to London occasionally, I love it. I see the nice, cleaned-up, touristy parts. After my meeting on Tuesday, I went to the National Gallery to see a ­Cezanne exhibition, and then had a coffee in the museum's new café, which resembles (guess what ?) an old-fashioned Victorian pub. No wonder tourists love London. It's the perfect place to visit. But don't go and live there. Just go and see the film.

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