THE VERY BEST OF BRITISH by Nicholas Courtney


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A coy, often inscrutable look at life and leisure among the British upper crust. Originally published in England, it is so full of playfully insistent name-dropping, place-dropping, and brand-dropping that only the already devout Anglophile will be able to make head or tail of it. The author glibly lists and glorifies the finest watch, shotgun, suit, portrait and, more importantly, the finest invitations: luncheon with Punch magazine (where all the stewards and waiters answer to 'Charles'), dinner and a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum with Dr. Sir Roy Strong, or the Royal Ascot with--who else--the Royal Family. Even the morning paper was once prey to class distinctions, and the author mourns the passing of The Times ""Royal Edition""--100 copies on white rag paper for Royalty, Archbishops, the Prime Minister and such. Though occasionally satirical, the author's essential attitude toward the silver-spooners is envious infatuation. Even as estates become condominiums and blue-blood is spilled, the survivors are masters of style, romantic characters leading ""a traditional and amusing way of life."" If Courtney intimates that these are effete beings, he is obviously delighted to be included, if only for the sake of journalism. He is more Robin Leach than Evelyn Waugh, spouting things like ""Glyndebourne is undeniably an anachronism, but it is an anachronism that works."" There are some funny anecdotes throughout, but altogether the volume is not boorish, but boring.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's