The internet can’t quite seem to make its mind up when it comes to how many Londons there are in the world, however a quick google can return you anywhere from 11 to 50. From Kiribati to Chile, it seems there are Londoners everywhere.
Forever wrestling with my own existence as a certified ‘mockney’ - having been the only one in my immediate family born outside of Greater London, yet sharing my father’s very definite London accent - I was intrigued by the thought that all over the globe there are mockneys even more pronounced than me.
With this in mind, In November 2022, I travelled to London, Arkansas, a city with a population of just 936 residents, looking to explore the social differences between the London where I live and the London of rural Arkansas. It became apparent very quickly that a MAGA gripped community in the Post-Trump era was going to be inherently sceptical of anyone from the outside world carrying a camera. I can’t tell you how many times I had to re-iterate that I wasn’t from the “news media” to someone openly carrying a weapon.
Despite the initial trepidation on both sides - getting over seeing such an abundance of confederate flags flying took a long minute - my time in the community was one of warm welcomes, saccharine sweet iced tea and lots of prayers. Unable to stay directly in the city due to it having no hotels, guest houses, or B&B’s, my daily drive in and out of London gave me an opportunity to see the clear socio-economic differences between London and its neighbouring cities, even with the job creating largest Nuclear Power Plant in the whole of Arkansas situated there.
Despite the fact that 23.3% of the population in London, Arkansas live below the poverty line, Southern Hospitality never faltered and I was welcomed into homes, church services and (as my arrival coincided with the start of deer hunting season) even a hunt. In just over a week in the community it became clear that this is somewhere that looks after its own, for better or worse. This was a place both wary of outsiders thanks in part to media stereotyping and the distortion of the news through Facebook et-al, yet which was able to welcome a Photographer from England in for Sunday family lunch with open arms. That being one of the very few reminders of the only London I’d previously ever known.