There are signs that London is slowly waking up from its decade-long novelty binge. Londoners more or less agree that Pete Doherty is not a cross between Lord Byron and Joe Strummer, but rather a troubled (and rather tedious) young man. And every time one of the new articulated buses snakes past, there is a communal wave of nostalgia for the double-decker Routemaster, the last of which was retired in December. All of which has started to make some of the more traditional aspects of British life seem exciting and fresh. First is the Tory Party: One of the favorite topics of conversation at London dinner parties is Dave Cameron, the party’s new, young answer to Blair. Then there’s the dandy comeback: A statue of Beau Brummell was recently raised on Jermyn Street, followed by a biography of the Beau and a picture book called The
New English Dandy. Finally, backgammon is chic again, with tournaments held by restaurateur Sir Christopher Gilmour and players meeting privately in houses and clubs. The return to tradition is not a backlash as much as a turning of the tide. Londoners are realizing that ten years of striving after the flashy and the fashionable (remember “Cool Britannia”?) add up in unexpected ways: After Tokyo, London is now the most expensive city on the planet.
If you like the stateliness of the Pierre, you’ll love Brown’s.
If you like the anything-you-wish service of the St. Regis, you’ll love the Lanesborough.
If you like the swank bar scene at the
Soho Grand, you’ll love the Sanderson.
Glossary: Britspeak Decoded, Innit
Bare: Lots of (“I made bare money last week”).
Chav: Working-class person with garish taste.
Chirp: To chat up a girl.
Curry: Worry (“Don’t you curry”).
Ends: A neighborhood.
Innit: Shortening of “isn’t it,” used arbitrarily to end sentences.
It’s all gone a bit Pete: It’s all gone wrong; rhymes with Pete Tong, the famous disc jockey.
Lush: Gorgeous, sexy.
Nang: Really good, excellent.
Proper: Short for “properly,” used arbitrarily (“That play last night was proper good”).
Safe: Okay, good.
Shoreditch twat: Fashion victim.
Something from Nigella: A Nigella Lawson recipe (“dinner with a few friends and something from Nigella”).
Wasteman: Stupid person.
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