London is turning into a ghost town – it’s tired and lacking in energy

As we began the drive back to south London, I was struck by how many ‘retail opportunities’ there are. London’s West End now looks like a fabulous necklace that is missing half its stones, writes Jenny Eclair

Monday 30 August 2021 21:30
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<p>Many of the remaining shops are advertising ‘big discount’ sales</p>

Many of the remaining shops are advertising ‘big discount’ sales

Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town? / We danced and sang, and the music played in a de boomtown.”

So sang The Specials in 1981, AKA the summer of riots, when unemployment was at a record high, police brutality heightened racial tensions and young people who’d – unsurprisingly – had enough took to the streets.

The tune ran through my head coming home from a pre-recorded interview at BBC Broadcasting House – not that there was any rioting. I was in the heart of the West End, and the place was eerily empty (Extinction Rebellion, who have been protesting in central London, don’t do the Friday before the bank holiday weekend, it seems). I’d been expecting a tricky journey and even planned extra time, but I heard no one and saw nothing.

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