Every now and again it strikes home that I now live in a city where those born here are in a minority – at dinner the other night I realised I was the only born Londoner – indeed, born Englishman – around a very large table. It doesn’t remotely bother me – why should it? – except when I make a joke that falls flat because nobody recognises its genesis. English humour is bloody complicated at the best of times, and then having to go on and explain it is doubly a chore.
In the interests of this, I present ten questions which should provide you with a barometer of how old you are, and whether you were London-born.
1. Where was London’s most spectacular visit to Santa, now sadly knocked down?
2. Winifred Atwill, Russ Conway and Mrs Mills were all – what?
3. What was a Red Rover?
4. Picture Book. The Flowerpot Men. The Woodentops. Andy Pandy. Who’s missing?
5. What did you win on Crackerjack? What did you get if you lost?
6. Name the department store that stood on Piccadilly Circus.
7. What did men in lab-coats do in the window of the building on Great Portland Street until very recently?
8. Before London’s traffic signs and lines erupted into a riot of red and yellow, what was the colour-coding of all London signage?
9. Who was still performing sand dances in Leicester Square right up until it was pedestrianised?
10. ’Stone me – what a life.’ What day of the week is it?