This way for Lithuania. Pentax SP500 / 55mm f/2. Rollei Retro 400S film. R09. V500
This represents an ongoing project of mine. Trying to capture the feeling of living in an immigration town – the new EU immigration, in a small town in the Fens.
First a disclaimer, and a bit of honesty. This photo study is neither critical, nor positive concerning the new immigration. It has no opinion. The images are there for you to interpret as you will. Personally, I like living in a multi cultural area. Others do not. It is what it is.
The above photo represents mine and Anita’s little game. Fashions are different. The English can be rather drably dressed, especially out in the depressed provinces, and the Fens are very provincial. So, we spot the shiny coats. We even score points by how shiny that they are. Shiny coats represent the new immigration.
I’m trying not just to capture immigrants, or their shop fronts. I’m also looking for artifacts, as though I’m a future archaeologist, searching for the archaeology of this significant immigration. Perhaps the most significant immigration to Eastern England since the Danish Vikings settled during the 9th Century AD. The above Polish beer can is a great example.
How many, and where are they from? I don’t trust any governmental agency statistics, neither do I trust the opinions of local wagging tongues. All I can give is my best guesstimate and observations. I’d venture to say that between 25% and 45% of the local population in this small town was born outside of the UK, or that their parents recently arrived in the UK, over the past 15 years. That seems crazy, and maybe I’m wrong. Maybe not.
Where from? I’d dare suggest something in the order, starting with the largest but still significant number, to the lowest, something like: Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Romania, Russia (ethnic), Portugal, Bulgaria, Czech / Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia. All of these are simply my observations and best guesses from living here.
Why do people come here? Better pay. I keep hearing the same answer. The wages. Even though they often get the worse jobs, the pay is so much higher here than at home. When the immigrants arrive, it is usually to the worse housing, the worse jobs, the worse exploitation. Many stay it out until things get better. I don’t know if the above apartments are at home to any immigrants, but the photo looks appropriate.
Language is interesting here. English is the language of the land. I sometimes hear two or more people, from different countries, translating from one language, into English – then to another language. The other Lingua Franca is Russian, especially among the older generation of East Europeans. The younger generations learn English. Still, walk around the town, or the busy Sunday Market – you’ll hear so much foreign tongue. It is also interesting to see people from different countries meeting each other here in the English Fens, through shared work and accommodation.
Lithuanian Zeppelins bombing the English palate.
Businesses. A lot of the locals groan and moan, that so many of the town centre shops have been taken over by charity shops and foreign food shops. I wonder if they are aware that the modern English small town centre is dying to the out of town superstores. If the immigrants didn’t take over empty premises, would they still be empty? Who would be paying the rents, rates, and taxes?
The Sunday Market
The local car boot sale has long been popular with both locals and the significant local Traveller community. Now, it appears that Lithuanians, Poles, and others – love this form of popular capitalism. A multi-cultural event – the English car boot sale.
Bulgarian and Lithuanian
The point of this photo study, is that regardless of anyone’s personal opinions on immigration. It IS real, happening history. It should be recorded.