BEM IN LONDON

The city bus intercom barely makes it amidst the lively chattering on board: “Lambeth Town Hall”. Final stop. Along its uneasy way to Brixton, the double-decker has been getting crowded with a diverse and colourful ride. Apart from some occasional sudden braking and nervous laughing, the atmosphere gives off a relaxed and joyful vibe, probably due to a popular Caribbean event that takes place that afternoon at a park nearby. To the passenger sitting next, a middle-age woman, other than the bus fuller than usual, the scene feels “quite normal”. She speaks with a heavy Portuguese accent. In fact, her crafty English constantly gets decorated with Portuguese terms, which I take as a deference to a Spanish speaking partner as myself. The woman, a retired social worker, has lived for more than thirty years in Brixton, a “wonderful home” where she has “proudly” raised her two children together with their father from Jamaica. Not even the “occasional temptation” of returning to native Madeira for good makes her seriously consider the move. Her strong sense of belonging seems easy to explain: “Here in London we are not only mixed. We are also well”. Or rather “bem”, literally transcribed. 

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