Notes on London

1. The wastebins are back! The wastebins are back! Finally, that empty

bottle of Oasis Classic Lemon which you drank while walking down the

street has somewhere to go! I can’t remember exactly when it

was that they went – certainly the IRA was bombing for quite

a while before the drastic decision was taken – but boy, am I

happy for their return. It’s made central London cleaner, too,

not that it was filthy before.

2. London vs New York: New Yorkers are better looking. Londoners aren’t

exactly ugly, but they tend to be a bit quirkier: bigger noses, odd

features, that sort of thing. In New York everybody looks like a model

(and most of them are, it turns out); London is more individualistic.

Corollary: Londoners are more stylish. They’re not competing

on legginess and perfection, but they are competing on coolness, stylishness,

funkiness. They get away with a lot more in terms of what they wear

and how they look, and in general the (younger) population is refreshingly

diverse to look at. London hasn’t been Gap-ified yet, thankfully.

3a. Old London/Old England: It still exists. I went over for the opera;

specifically, I went over for Glyndebourne. And while certain parts

of London, like New York or Paris or Helsinki or Singapore, have been

taken over by the Internationally Wealthy, the sort of people who

jet from this hotel to that island with their Louis Vuitton bags and

their Gucci loafers, Glyndebourne is still a bastion of the old upper

classes, English gents and ladies with plummy accents and precious

little dress sense who have seen their effortless superiority turn

into effortless irrelevance, yet who still seem completely unruffled

by the transformation.

3b. Encounter With The Abovementioned OL/OE: My mother took me aside

while we were at Glyndebourne, and told me that my shirt was lovely,

but really she didn’t think that she’d be able to continue

ironing it for much longer. My dress shirts were inherited from my

grandfather, who’d had them made at Sulka on Bond Street. They

are thirty years old now, and the collars are a bit wrinkled and difficult

to iron. I had a brainstorm: I’d take them into Sulka, if it

was still there, and ask them to replace the collar. My father reckoned

that they’d do that, and said that Sulka was still on Old Bond

Street. Surely it would be cheaper than buying new dress shirts of

similar quality, and it would help preserve some sort of connection

with OL/OE.

Turns out my father was wrong: Sulka no longer exists, on Bond Street

or anywhere else. The venerable marque was taken over by the House

of Dunhill at some point in the relatively recent past; I’m not

sure if Dunhill itself isn’t part of LVMH or somesuch conglomerate.

But all was not lost. I walked into what used to be the Sulka shop

(it’s now a Dunhill shop) on Old Bond Street, and asked if they

still had Sulka shirts. It was a lazy Tuesday morning, and I think

I was the only customer. A man directed me to a woman, who told me

that no, Sulka has been done away with entirely. But, she said, they

did still have a Master Shirt Maker, whom they’d inherited from

Sulka… if I would just step this way and take a seat, she’d

bring him up and he’d see what he could do.

Eventually, a sixtyish guy in a sleeveless t-shirt and drawstring

trousers came up and introduced himself; I’ve forgotten his name,

although I think it was David something. He explained all manner of

interesting things about shirts and collars, tutted at the collar

on the Hilditch & Key shirt I was wearing – completely wrong

for my head shape, or something – and agreed to do the work;

he’d replace the cuffs as well. He also told me that they do

still make shirts like that, which start at about £220. So £25

for a collar and £25 for a pair of cuffs doesn’t seem half

bad, really.

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One Response to Notes on London

  1. Tricia says:

    I always been dreaming to visit London someday. I just don’t know what is in London that I am interested of. But then I realized that I am just being influence by those movies that I am watching. Those love stories that happened in London and the way their people and also the environment is unique. I just don’t know why people has high regards in USA. They are this eager to come. In my part, if I gonna choose one place to go between USA and UK. I go for UK. I guess , its because of Shakespear and all the arts they have. Anyway, its the people and their uniqueness I want to explore. I am also thankful with this post since, you game me some idea what the London people and the environment looked like. At least I got some reference.


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