Has Boris Johnson missed the point about Spanish families sleeping rough in London?

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, yesterday bemoaned the sight of ‘Spanish families sleeping rough in London’ at the UK’s Institute of Directors Conference. ‘I was going along the canal the other day on my bike,’ he said, ‘and I came across a family from Spain. I’d never seen in all my time as mayor a Spanish family destitute and homeless in London before.’

He went on to say, ‘The guy was from Malaga. He was in construction. He had absolutely lost hope of finding anything – unemployment there is about 40 per cent. And he’d washed up in Hackney and I felt it was a real tragedy. The guy could barely speak English. You wouldn’t have had that ten years ago before the euro began … This whole euro project has been a real disaster for the union and it will take a very, very long time to sort out.’

Boris may be right – but what about the Brits sleeping rough in Spain? It’s impossible to sleep here. Even when we do get to bed, which is rarely before 2am, the fireworks, constant music, screeching scooters, car horns and barking dogs ensure that there’s little chance of any sleep … which is why the Spanish invented the siesta. To sleep whilst the rest of Europe is working. Which is why Spain is in the state it is in. The euro seems to have worked in some countries, but not others – certainly not in the eurozone of the PIGS, thanks largely to a Mediterranean-attitude (excluding Ireland) of …  sorry, but it’s true … ‘mañana, mañana’. What attracts tourists and travellers to Spain – that sun-drenched mañana-spirit – is also its downfall. I love Spain but they need to change so many ‘Spanish practices’ and offer more than a ‘relaxing cup of café con leche’ if they are to compete with the rest of Europe.

I would like to know what time Boris was cycling along the canal. Was it siesta time? Of course it is tragic to be ‘washed up in Hackney’ – but actually if the ‘guy’ is in construction, then he’s far more likely to find work in and around Hackney than in Malaga, whether he speaks English or not. He made the right decision. There’s no work for him in Spain. None at all. There won’t be any work for anyone in Spain soon … so Boris might find us all sleeping alongside his canal as he potters by on his bike.

5 thoughts on “Has Boris Johnson missed the point about Spanish families sleeping rough in London?

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dave Smith

    September 25, 2013 at 9:58pm

    You must be the most stupid Brit that has ever been in Spain (after Michael Owen, of course). Spain is in the state it is in because of all the corrupt politicians and banksters around and not because of siesta, that is a natural thing to do when it’s above 40ºC outside. You forgot to mention all the british jumping out of balconies into the swimming pool and getting killed at 2 am. If you don’t like the buzzing nights of Spain the most intelligent thing you can do is find a quiet neighbourhood, there are plenty around. Regarding to the “Mañana” attitude, you usually get that when you are tight or when people think you are not important enough to worry about. I’ve lived in Spain over 10 years and never had a problem. The question here should have been: Have I missed the point?

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 26, 2013 at 5:13pm

    Er … sorry, Dave, but the post was supposed to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but I don’t deny that I might still be the most stupid Brit that has ever been in Spain. I agree with you re: politicians and banksters. Don’t agree with you about the siesta and 40C outside, though … at least not for air-conditioned office workers. I love the buzzing nights of Spain … anyway, as I say, it was written a little in jest, but I am convinced that the idea of closing up shop & office from 2 until (often) 5pm is counterproductive. In fact, today, having posted an update to this blog, I passed an estate agent office that was shut from 1pm to 3.30pm. Why? Lunch.

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dave Smith

    September 28, 2013 at 4:20am

    Come on! maybe it was closed because you were the only person in town that needed an estate agent there and then! Don’t you think? Who needs one anyway? You usually search on internet or you go to an auction in court as thousands of houses are being auctioned there everyday at half price (and they’re open from 8 till 2) and nobody seems to be buying either. Do you think that if they were selling a couple of houses at 2 o’clock they would be having lunch or a siesta? Counterproductive is having to pay employees and the electric bill when no one is comming in through the door.
    I used to work for British Airways and I had to go home at certain hours because there were no flights, and the company wouldn’t pay staff to be sitting in front of the ACon doing nothing.
    Why do shops close in england at 5? Because it’s bloody pitch dark at 6! Why do english drink tea at 5? Why do Scots wear kilts? Why do muslims do ramadam? Why do spanish have a nap? Don’t know…. just saying….

    It’s not nice to laugh about a geezer and his family that are living under a bridge or other communities customs.

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dave Smith

    September 28, 2013 at 4:23am

    * traditions *

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 28, 2013 at 10:52am

    OK, points taken, but I wasn’t laughing at the geezer under the bridge – I said it was ‘tragic’. As for Scots wearing kilts … don’t get me started on that!

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