Like it or not, Britain is a multi-cultural society. On trains, in supermarkets, in the cinema, walking in parks, everywhere you can hear people speaking in other languages. As a believer in the power of diversity to create new ideas we should have a great future as a country if we can ever successfully harness that. Of course with immigration such a bone of contention those new ideas probably don’t feel very welcome in the current political climate.
The commonly held belief is that our benefits system makes us the most attractive European destination for those seeking a better life, so ports like Calais have camps of those waiting find an opportunity to cross the Channel in secret. Where have they come from? Most enter through Italy as the small island of Lampedusa is the shortest journey across the Meditteranean if you can find a boat from North Africa.
It doesn’t seem as if many stay. Yes there are the African vendors of counterfeit bags in the main tourist areas and along the beach, but that is a common enough phenomenon across Europe, but in the general population I don’t detect the same diversity as at home.
Which is perhaps why, on the day after Cassandra Wilson had played La Fenice, I was excited to see this woman with characteristic high forehead and braided hair, waiting for transport from Lido. I couldn’t get close enough to see for certain at first, and when I did she had gone. Had this been another missed chance?
Processing the pictures when I returned I was able to blow up the image and chide myself for becoming the victim of a racial assumption.