Annemarie Field is right about any anonymous letters of protest sent to the Sheng family concerning the projected opening of a Chinese restaurant in Meads Village. But before hands are thrown up in horror at the objectors in general, a calm look at the underlying concerns would not go amiss. Our English nation has long been diluted, even denigrated, in the name of multiculturalism, the very implementation of which presupposes no further recognition of a host nation culture. Hitherto the citizens of other cultures would automatically be prepared to absorb themselves in the mores and customs they found in the country of choice.
Meads Village is quintessentially English (and lest anyone go into auto-apoplexy at such an idea, consider whether there would be any objection to the notion of Mumbai being described as quintessentially Indian). Many of us came to Eastbourne because of its traditional Englishness. We had arrived from places such as Hackney and Southall where we had experienced, without the slightest consultation, the nature of our districts transformed beyond recognition from the pre-existing cultures. Unsurprisingly, therefore, we wish to see any further moves away from that particular status quo curbed.
If a Chinese family would like to take over the restaurant in Meads Village, what is to stop them from maintaining its traditional English cuisine? It would not be the first time for such an approach. For several decades the excellent Portuguese family in Carlisle Road have maintained the first-rate fish and chip business we know as the Holiday Inn.
On a parallel theme, our pier is being taken over. I have a lot of admiration for what Abid Gulzar is doing for Eastbourne. So far his enterprises have continued English traditions in the town. But in the modern climate he worries me slightly when he talks of wanting to ‘celebrate the diversity of all cultures in this country’. I for one now want the brakes to be clamped on diversity, the time having long passed for the emphasis to be renewed on a celebration of our own way of life. I suspect it is that which is at the heart of objections to a potential cultural change in our beloved Meads Village.
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