Village London

London, Observatory

lm_5 As freezing fog and snow continue to paralyse London, I’m heading to Langshott Manor today, in the Sussex countryside. This is the kind of place overseas visitors get teary-eyed about, although I don’t personally have the Noel Coward gene and tend to regard such places with horror, associating them with floral brocade curtain tiebacks, flinty-eyed landladies, nasal receptionists, kippers, harrumphing ex-military types, and dining rooms whose eerie hush is only broken by the rustle of the Daily Telegraph. Heritage England gets a bit too Fawlty Towers for me.

As indeed it must for Alan Bennett, whose new play ‘People’ looks at the commoditisation of everything that was once shabby and quiet and taken for granted. He misses as many targets as he hits, but it’s a very funny journey.

However, I did get the English Sensation from waking up yesterday to find the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral covered in snow and looking remarkably like a Gustave Dore print (sorry, no facility for typing accents on WordPress that I can see). In fact, the whole of Marylebone and Mayfair had a picturebook quality because no-one had yet ventured out to disturb the sparkling pristine snow.

It has been pointed out that London’s boroughs now reflect English villages in structure, with a town hall, village pub, market, outdoor gathering spot, village green or square and weekly localised events. Once you start noticing this the initially ludicrous analogy slowly becomes apparent, although the city version has more stabbings.

On Sunday I venturing out to the achingly hip Riding House Cafe for breakfast, although this early it was largely filled with folks who had aching hips, and I realised that even the faux-vieux decor echoed that once found in English villages, with craquelure tiling, plank floors and reclaimed beams. In one nearby bar a counter light turned out to be constructed of about fifty upturned English teacups with tiny LEDs inside. Dow the road, the Booking Office Bar in the Gilbert Scott is reminiscent of a town cathedral, with immense bells in its vaulted ceiling.

Meanwhile, the next hot London fashion look is apparently going to be based on the clothing of Yorkshire miners (don’t get me started on that). As high streets turn away from corporate giants toward small vendors, and rural villages continue to add chain-stores, it’s going to get harder to tell which is country and which is city.

No post tomorrow as I’ll be on route to St Lucia in the West Indies.


18 comments on “Village London”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    St. Lucia? Well, really! And no post on Friday. What happened to visiting the new digs in Spain?
    Or are you attending a graphic novel signing in the islands?
    Wait, wait, I think I’ve got it. There’s an interesting flat furnishings sale in St. Lucia. And you’ll freight dispatch the bulkier bits to Barcelona.
    Or do you have chionophobia? Fear of Schnee.
    Well, since we’ll be on post rationing Friday (mutters here), I’m going to make another cup of coffee, put a roll in the toaster oven, get out the blackcurrent jam, kick back and watch the snow falling outside at a fine 17 f (which is up from 10 f last night). Oh, and lay in some goodies for the big snow coming over the weekend.
    St. Lucia, I’ll be switched. Howard – How are you keeping over there, Mon?

  2. slabman says:

    Londoners wishing for a taste of picturesque village life can tube it to Golder’s Green and walk though Hampstead Garden Suburb to East Finchley. Looks just like the real thing, but without the depressing prospect of having to leave the city and venture into the countryside.

  3. slabman says:

    Oh, and £4.50 for a bowl of muesli at the Riding House Cafe? That’s an aching hip pocket.

  4. admin says:

    Surprisingly, the Booking Office is pretty good value on the cocktail front, and has the benefit of usually being half-empty, with no canned music or Sky Sports.

  5. snowy says:

    Sacré bleu!
    “Cîroc, vite!”

  6. Helen Martin says:

    Okay, Snowy, how did you do them? There’s no “insert” button or whatever.

  7. John Howard says:

    Helen, I think snowy might just be in league with the electronics / technology devil.

    As for the RHC and the Booking Office, wow, let me in there. I want to be hip man… Does one have to wear one’s aviator shades during the whole of the visit or can one slip them up to the crown of the head when eating?

  8. Dan Terrell says:

    John – I have been wearing prescription aviator glasses – clear and sun – for decades because they give more lens coverage, but are heavier on the nose. I never realized they were hip, or cool, but did look nice, so that may explain why young… Live and learn.

  9. andrea yang says:

    waiting from pics form St. Lucia you lucky devil!

  10. glasgow1975 says:

    I got excited as I spotted a gentle flurry of snow out my window . . .but sadly as it was falling on rainy ground it never even settled . . .

  11. Helen Martin says:

    John, I *know* Snowy is in league with the electronics/technology devil. He may, in fact *be* said devil. Glasgow, you don’t really want the white stuff, you know you don’t. I wonder if Snowy created those words elsewhere, then copied and pasted. Somehow I don’t think that works.

  12. snowy says:

    First my very best wishes to all those celebrating the festivities with the worlds first ‘boil in the bag’ meal. [Though by this time of the night most of you will probably be nicely soused by now.]

    As to accented letters, there is no great mystery.

    On a Mac it’s easy, the option key gives access to the most common ones. A quick search will turn up various ‘cheat sheets’ that list them all.

    *A general note, if anyone uses a particular application regularly it is well worth getting hold of the appropriate cheat sheet, and printing it out [and even laminating it]. Keep it near the computer, learning a few shortcuts will save having to reach for the mouse and fiddling with menus, speeds thing up a treat.

    An quick example for Firefox users.
    New Tab [Ctrl][T]
    Switch Tab [Ctrl][Tab]
    Close Tab [Ctrl][W]
    Increase Text Size [Ctrl][+][+]

    In Windows and other OS’s there are various ways, all a bit of a fiddle. So I have a document saved on the PC, with all the special symbols I use, mostly greek things like sigma, lambda, phi, etc. but including accented letters.

    When I need to write some thing I open this document, save as another name. And then start typing, above the special text, it moves down as I type, still within easy reach, just copy it into place as needed.

    (At the risk of stating the obvious if you start typing under the saved letters they get further and further away as you type, and you have to scroll back to the first page each time.)

    When finished, either delete the symbols before you save, or if posting a comment, just cut out the bit you want and paste it into the comment box.

    [This can go wrong if you use a funny font that others don’t have on their machines and it will then render as odd letters or strange boxes.]

  13. Alan Morgan says:


    I grew up in the country but with a lot of time in London (the family being from there). Then lived in London in my youth, then back to the country for my middle years. I have to confess that I’ve never thought when in the city, ‘Gosh this is just like a village’.

    When I was in the city I wanted to be in the country. In the country I just want to be back in the city.

  14. Helen Martin says:

    Say something snarky and Snowy responds – I’ll bet he would if I were polite, too. Thank-you, Snowy.

  15. Helen Martin says:

    Since our Robbie Burns dinner was on Sat. rather than Friday, therefore a day late I missed the reference up there. The lack of any distilled beverage was the only complaint. (Don’t start.)

  16. glasgow1975 says:

    Oh that reminds me, I’ve still to eat my leftover veggie haggis, neeps & tatties! Yay!

  17. John Howard says:

    Oh and we must not forget a wee ‘nippy sweetie’ must we. I have just the the thing on the high shelf away from exploring little hands. A nice little Arran malt to warm the cockles… Happy belated birthday Rabbie.

  18. Helen Martin says:

    Ours is a Strathisla currently.

Comments are closed.

Posted In