So it looks like "London" is a four-letter word in a certain rival European capital. The mayor of Paris has begun a campaign against "La Londonisation", his term for the rubber-stamp commoditising of the High Street, destruction of small businesses, and the driving out of the middle classes into the hinterlands (suburbs to you and me).
Leaving aside the somewhat convenient timing of this tirade (Paris is frontrunner for the 2012 Olympics, and London's inspection visit begins next week), does this Parisian pontificating hold water? Let's look at the two sides:
On the one hand, yes, I think we'll all agree that our High Streets have started to look a bit identikit as of late, and that yes, perhaps we've reached saturation point with mobile phone shoppes (to say nothing of ripoff fried chicken vendors). And I doubt you'll find anyone saying that urban housing is good value for money these days.
On the other hand, it would be silly to pretend that the world's economy still revolves around small shopkeepers and street markets. London is merely another example of pervasive globalisation, and if you can only say one thing about globalisation it's that nothing attracts like a crowd. Big businesses (and franchises) go where there are other big businesses, plain and simple. Sure, it may be evil, and we will all ultimately come to regret the effects of several monolithic transnationals dictating every aspect of our waking life, but heck, as long as they pay our wages we'll be able to afford that nice new place in the suburbs. Right?