Snoring in the sunshine down Park Lane, in London, last week was the latest gift to Britain from the Great God of Multicultural Diversity, sixty-odd snaggle toothed Romanian gypsies. I went to speak to them for a film I was doing for the Sunday Times. The only English the vast majority knew was ‘grwnka’, which they barked at me while pointing at their mouths. This is apparently their approximation of: ‘Do you possibly have a cigarette to spare, my good man?’ Some didn’t even say Grwnka, they just pointed at their mouths and looked at my cigarette.
There are very serious fears that these new arrivals will unfairly compete with honest British pickpockets and beggars, being more adept and with lower overheads. But the Romanian ambassador, Ion Jinga, has said that they will be of enormous benefit to the economy, although he did not explain how beyond saying that ‘eight out of ten of them work’. Yes, but work at what? Notwithstanding this interesting take on the development, one enterprising local shopkeeper has learned the Romanian phrase for ‘You can’t sleep here, please clear off.’ Still, I suppose it’s hardly the mass swamping some had feared. Perhaps that’s to come.