THE LONDONERS: Life in a Civilized City by Walter Henry Nelson

THE LONDONERS: Life in a Civilized City

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Nelson is a former U.S. Military Intelligence agent who has also spent thirteen years as an advertising executive (concurrently?) -- which may explain his over-exuberance about the ""civility"" of London where he now lives, not to mention his extreme Anglophilia. Still, there's no denying that of all major urban centers, the city on the Thames is by far the least acerbic and most tolerable today, partly because it retains a human scale. Londoners, Nelson finds, are always at their best in adversity -- the Blitz having been their finest hour -- and even though he suspects a tinge of mass masochism in the way they ""got on with it"" during last winter's severe crises, nevertheless pluck and good breeding will out every time. The class system is alive and well (which the author finds to be a not altogether bad thing), and more than hard work and ambition (such, in any case, must never appear obvious) are called for to move up the scale. The upwardly mobile need to adopt Oxbridge tones so that pronunciations such as Sinjin (St. John), Maribn (Marble-bone Road), Fanshaw (Featherstonehaughs), etc., roll off the tongue with the ease of an Etonian. Swinging London never actually was, but the citizens have always practiced a live and let live philosophy, and eccentric behavior is not only tolerated but so prized that it's apt to be routinely cultivated. Nelson also discusses royalty, the National Health, drugs, prostitution, crime, the IRA, and concludes that unequivocally London living is to be highly recommended. The same cannot be said for his book.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1974
Publisher: Random House