Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Zone 1 Snobs

Transport for London has a system of fare zones: Zone 1 is a roughly circular area covering central London, and Zones 2 to 6 extend around it in concentric rings.

I stay at Island Gardens, on the Isle of Dogs. Though this is in Zone 2, it’s close to work (only a 15-minute cycle ride away), and rents here are lower than in central London. But these reasons are not good enough for the Zone 1 snobs.

Most people of my acquaintance who live in central London are, to a greater or lesser degree, Zone 1 snobs. Spoilt by their proximity to tube stations and good restaurants, they look down on anyone who lives in Zone 2 or beyond. As for dwellers of Zone 5 or 6, a Zone 1 snob barely deigns to acknowledge their existence.

Should some errand require a Zone 1 snob to venture into the outer boroughs, they do so with many a complaint and protestation, and great is their relief once their mission is accomplished and they can return to familiar territory – “back in civilisation,” as the Quaker (himself a confirmed Zone 1 snob) once said, on arriving at Leicester Square after a long walk that skirted the outer reaches of Zone 1.

Anasua is moving to London later this year, but because she is planning to live in Bloomsbury, she has become a Zone 1 snob even before she has arrived in the city. Last week I was telling her I stay near Canary Wharf, to which her reaction was, “Canary Wharf sounds so uncool! Exactly like living in Howrah. Or even [shudder] Garia.” Readers who are familiar with the geography of Calcutta will recognise what a damning indictment this is.

But Anasua is not alone in her disdain for the Isle of Dogs: Zone 1 snobbery is by no means a recent phenomenon. From an 1858 publication quoted in the Survey of London:
The island is peopled by a peculiar amphibious race, who dwell in peculiar amphibious houses, built upon a curious foundation, neither fluid nor solid. Damp is a thing unknown in the Isle of Dogs – everything that is at all wet being thoroughly wet through. The houses, in many cases, drop on one side, at a greater angle than the notorious Leaning Tower of Pisa … productive of great inconvenience in a thickly-inhabited house, especially where there are crockery and children.
And on that note, here is a photograph of a fellow resident of the Isle of Dogs – neither peculiar nor amphibious, but fittingly, a dog.

6 comments:

Tommy said...

Nice pic.

It's fun to ask people what animal the Canary Islands are named after. I wonder if people in Canary Wharf would be more likely than most to give the right answer.

relativelytruthful said...

'Zone 1' and 'the rest' - otherwise known as 'Town' and 'the suburbs' in bombay, or 'Bandra' and 'the rest of the world'. :)

[i live in dadar.]

The Reluctant Rebel said...

Zone 1 is for tourists. Real London is where the dogs are.

Sroyon said...

@Tommy: I actually didn't know that! My knowledge extended to the etymology of Canary Wharf, but no further.

@relativelytruthful: Hmm, Dadar is not bad. Not the same as Fort, but also not the Suburbs.

@Saha: Tourists and the Queen.

Anonymous said...

Bombay is no different at all.

Raktima said...

Kukur ta ki korun bhabey takiye achhey. Clearly Zone 2 te thaka ta posachchhey na.