The novel “Capital” and the BBC dramatisation is a good portrait of modern London. A two class society consisting of an upper class and an insecure servant class recruited from the world’s desperate poor. The haunting theme “We want what you have” says it all. The old working class and middle class are going or gone.
I lived in the area where the dramatisation was filmed – Balham/Clapham/Tooting for 17 years before being priced out in 2011. (The fictional “Pepys” road is actually Mayford Road, which I walked along every day going to work). In that time the area gentrified, the demographic changed from mixed class and mixed race to upper middle displaced from central London by foreign oligarchs to the pleasanter suburbs south of the river. The local home owners profiting from rocketing house prices sold up and moved out, and those who rented, like myself, were forced out through unaffordable rents. The workers replaced by transient migrants often living in sub-standard (but still over-priced) accommodation.
A two class society. An over-class insulated by wealth from every social misery, and the world’s precariat workforce, willing to do any job, for any pay, in any conditions, unable to resist exploitation under constant threat of being sent back, vulnerable to exploitation and abuse on all sides, including the authorities as represented by the police. Only a milder version of the third world conditions they hoped to leave behind.
CAPITAL by John Lanchester, Faber & Faber 2012
BBC 1 drama CAPITAL, 3 part written by Peter Bowker, available on DVD