Saturday, 28 April 2012

My London, and Welcome to It


"London has a wicked, dry and often cruel sense of humor. It is clever, literate and dramatic. It is private and taciturn, a bit of a bore, and surprisingly sentimental. And it doesn’t make friends quickly, is awkward around visitors." 

I take back completely what I said about A.A. Gill. This is a good article about London written for Americans but it seems to me sad that you can no longer distinguish between Londoners and foreign visitors.

I love London very much indeed. Disraeli said there are two countries: London and England. I love both but much prefer London. And London I have noticed in my rare trips back in the fourteen years I have lived in Romania has become happier, more polite, cleaner and has become happy in its skin. And whereas everyone seemed to hate London in the 1970s from the 1980s onwards people began to like the place and they like it even more nowadays and take pride in it, something which previously they did not. And for reasons. London used to be a shabby defeated gimcrack place, like much of England, in the James Callaghan era. 

But London (which rules England)  seems to be becoming very far removed from England. To some extent all capital cities in Western Europe are. Brussels and Oslo (Oslo?) will probably have non-white majorities in thirty years and so possibly will London. Capital cities nowadays are starting to have more in common with one another than with their hinterlands (I owe this idea to Alain Cardon). What you think about that will depend on what you think about tradition, shared values and social cohesion. I like all three but especially tradition. 

Things are in many ways much better now but I think the London of 1950, with men in detachable collars, insipid food, sexual conservatism and all white apart from lascars living near the docks also has great charm. Sans bohemians except in Fitzrovia and among some very rich people, sans the pill, sans rock music, sans central heating.

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