What is an ‘Ultimate Londoner’?

The following blog was written by Reece Lipman, a member of the Chocolate Films Team.

One of the questions that we have been asking Londoners as background information for their films and at our pop up events is “Who do you feel is the Ultimate Londoner?” I’ve been thinking about this for a while as I’m always interested to see who people put down.

I think it says more about the person responding to the question than it does about the “Ultimate Londoner” themselves to be honest. London is such a huge and vibrant city that the very concept that there is one person who represents all of us is almost unfathomable to me. It’s sort of like asking people who their ultimate person is!

I still think it is a great question though. Our relationship with anything is usually built not only on past experiences from our own lives but from the influences around us, whether that be friends, family or even those people we look up to. The reason I think that people’s choices of their Ultimate Londoner say so much about them is because, when you look at who they chose you can usually discern similar views about the city and consequently, that Londoner’s life.

Now, I know what you’re thinking and yes, some people have said The Queen and clearly a teacher from Croydon is not going to have the same outlook on life as our monarch. But when you analyse that choice a little closer there are likely to be other reasons. That choice of The Queen doesn’t so much imply that our teacher from Croydon likes to wear a crown and has a fine collection of Corgis (though it might) but perhaps that she relates to London through it’s landmarks. The Queen or the monarchy in general are one of the ultimate London landmarks, they represent tradition and Britishness the world over. So perhaps for our teacher in Croydon, that’s how she connects to London- the tradition, the symbolism of the city and a bit of old fashioned British Pride.

Alternatively, we’ve spoken to people recently who have said that their ultimate Londoner is Tinie Tempah. For those who don’t know, Tinie Tempah is a London born rapper/musician of Nigerian heritage. I must admit, Tinie Tempah was an answer I raised an eyebrow over when I first saw it but the more I thought about it, the more it fit into my theory. Whilst he may not come very high on my list of Ultimate Londoners, not being a fan of his music and really knowing very little about him, to others Tinie Tempah might embody the idea that, in this city, one of the leading entertainment centers in the world, if you have the talent you can achieve success, regardless of your heritage, background or nationality.

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In a city of this size, with 1000s of different stories and people from different backgrounds and all walks of life it is obvious that those we see as embodying what London represents won’t be universal. For example, my choice would likely be The Clash frontman Joe Strummer as I feel  he represents the bustling subculture scene in the capital. He was at the forefront of what I believe was one of the most important cultural ideas of the 20th Century, he fused the different sights and sounds of city in all of his work and constantly took ideas from all of the different cultures that you can find in London, whether that be reggae, punk or something altogether different. That’s how I view London, as a clash of styles and cultures working in harmony to create something unique. Yet, when I discussed my choice with a colleague a few weeks ago he told me he’d never heard of Joe Strummer proving just how personal even the most well known of choices can be.

I’m not going to go down the route of saying that everyone is the Ultimate Londoner as I think that reduces the idea. Everyone likely has someone, even subconsciously that they think of when they think of London. I’ve discussed celebrities above but it could of course be family members or friends. We’ve had someone describe how his step father is the Ultimate Londoner as he represents everything that London means to him. It is such a personal choice that says so much about the diversity of London and the different ways that people view the city.

So who is your Ultimate Londoner? Who embodies the way that you view this city? Let us know in the comments section below!

Posted by:   /  29th Dec, 2013