THERE’S multi-cultural and then there’s Southwark. This old enclave of south-east London - home to a glorious compendium of colours, smells and cadences – swings and shimmies.

Much of it happens along the Old Kent Road, one of the oldest trade thoroughfares in Europe and which pre-dates the Romans. Now it seems to trade primarily in the business of co-existence.

You get here on the legendary 453, London’s unofficial tourist bus which rises at Baker Street then takes you south of the river through Regent Street, and Piccadilly Circus before swinging left to Trafalgar square and across Blackfriars Bridge.

Then it’s on to St Giles circus, the Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral. And then on down through the Old Kent Road. In this 45-minute bus ride you learn more about London than any tourist brochure can tell you.

As you walk this road you begin counting them all in: Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, all of them living chic to cheek with Jamaicans, Liberians, Lebanese and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And still, you’re barely scraping its façade.

This part of London, gnarly and wizened by the movement of peoples holds all of them to itself, across all their generations and asks few questions. Accepting them and caring quietly for them.

At the height of the Ebola crisis affecting West Africa these streets were draped in posters providing health and screening details. No questions.

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Yesterday morning, like most of the rest of the UK, Southwark was a little subdued and a little quieter. All along this road the coffee-shops and food suppliers were open and hosting little huddles of customers gathered around televisions showing the funeral of the Queen. Some watched; others chatted quietly.

This was how they’d probably encountered her for most of their adult lives: a presence; nothing more; nothing less. Respect without tumult; affection without adulation.

Masfin, an Ethiopian restaurateur, is sitting in his small food-shop and, seeing me hovering hesitantly at his doorway, beckons me in.

The television in the corner, like all the others in this street, is turned to the funeral. I tell him I’m down from Scotland and after a few moments, as if on cue, the sound of that lone Westminster piper is floating through his shop.

He flashes a big smile and makes a thumbs-up sign. There are no words. And there are no words. Just an acknowledgement.

His tone, like that of so many others in this great city, is respectful rather than reverential. “I’m sad to see her go,” he says. “She fostered a very good relationship with my country, Ethiopia after Britain helped us to get rid of the Italians in 1941.”

He shows me his Facebook page which is adorned with pictures of Queen Elizabeth and a large one of her meeting with Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia for 44 years.

“My daughter graduated as a bio-chemist last week and this week I pay tribute to the Queen and her country who gave us homes and hope and my daughter the opportunity to give something back.”

Jan, a London artist, has lived in Southwark for more than 10 years. He holds no affection for the monarchy and is wearying of the BBC’s self-abasing and reverential coverage. “It’s just YouMourn,” he says. “There’s nothing respectful or dignified about this.

“They haven’t caught the public mood at all. What’s reasonable and dignified about giving over your entire schedule for almost two weeks to this frenzy of royal worship?

“It’s like Test Match special when the cricket commentators are looking for interesting things to say between the overs. Except these people have nothing interesting to say apart from increasingly more absurd deference and submissiveness. “Most people I know, including ardent republicans are being naturally respectful. There’s a sense of ‘this isn’t the time’ for slogans and protests. But now I think their patience is being tested. It could become an own goal for monarchists. The more they pile this on the more scrutiny they’ll attract about what it all represents.”

Jan tells me about a friend who wrote to the CEO of Tesco after it was revealed they’d be shutting their stores out of respect for the Queen. “Out of respect,” he wrote, “will you be paying your part-time staff and zero-hours employees?” As yet, there’s been no reply.

Today the 453 bus is stopping just south of the river as the police block off the roads around Westminster. The bus driver lets it be known that the bus stops here and that we are all to get off “out of respect to our dear majesty up ahead”. It’s a declaration; not a request.

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In leafy Marylebone, home of the man-bun and the velvet-collared jacket, there aren’t many shops like those south of the river in Southwark. On every corner of this gilded neighbourhood taverns and up-market delicatessens throng with the princes and marquises of the City of London. On this mid-morning though, on the day of the Queen’s funeral, it’s empty save for the odd shiver of sightseers who seem almost apologetic as they take their selfies.

Behind the pillars on the steps of Marylebone’s Methodist Church, are Geoffrey and Richard, two homeless men who take nightly refuge underneath this stone canopy. They welcome me up to their little perch and over an artisan takeaway breakfast from Pret they give me their thoughts on the passing of their Britannic Majesty.

There is no reproach here and no self-pity. Geoffrey, a tall rangy gent with a face of alfresco bronze says he’ll watch the funeral on his battered iPhone. “The hotel across the road lets me have the password for their wifi,” he says with a wink. “The queen was great,” he says. “Do you know that she only costs each citizen 50p a year, yet she brings in more than a billion pounds? And she’s a generous woman. She gives up most of her inherited wealth in return for a reasonable consideration.”

Typical London. Geoffrey could well be the only homeless capitalist in the UK. I’m about to ask about where “her inherited wealth” came from. But Richard, the socialist of these two outdoorsmen gets in before me.

“The British people give 12 times more to animal charities than homeless charities. We have 166,000 people due to be evicted during this cost-of-living crisis. Lots of them will be joining us on these streets. We’re not here by choice. We need to be on benefits before we can get a room in a hostel and anyway, it’s probably safer to be out here than in some of those places.”

But Richard the militant itinerant still retains a fond regard for the Queen. “She set a great example to this country. She he was here for 70 years and she never put a foot wrong. Her morals were excellent. How many of us can say that after that amount of time?”

And when they hear my accent and learn of its origins they even have time to patronise me. “It’s a bit naughty up there, is it not? Wot age are you? Abaht 57, 58? You’re doin’ well, mate, to have survived this long.”

Nothing really prepares you for this: getting trolled by two lairy, homeless Londoners over artisan coffees on the morning we buried the Queen.