The truth is a mayor can actually do very little to alter the course of a huge city run by the free market that is home to banking - the engine room of capitalism.
— A. A. Gill
No British TV company could ever make a series like 'The West Wing' about British politics. It would beggar credibility. No one could write it with a straight face, or perform it without giggling.
Margaret Thatcher was as viscerally hated at home as she was warmly respected abroad.
Gordon Brown is a character from a tragic opera, twisted by ambition and a Presbyterian sense of fateful destiny. He has waited 13 years, mostly in Tony Blair's shadow, for this poisoned chalice and has a pessimist's luck.
London is a city of ghosts; you feel them here. Not just of people, but eras. The ghost of empire, or the blitz, the plague, the smoky ghost of the Great Fire that gave us Christopher Wren's churches and ushered in the Georgian city.
Every man imagines that he will turn his suit like a double agent, that it can be twisted to his will with irony or comedy, that the man can undermine its origins.
Suits are malevolent magicians' sleeves for socialists, full of patrician loops and tricks, small, embroidered, cryptic messages of deference and privilege. They are ever the uniform of the enemy. They are also the greatest British invention ever.
The London police have discovered that the best way to neuter demonstrations is not to move everyone on, or disperse troublemakers, but hold them close, cordon them into a diminishing space for hours and hours, as a sort of arbitrary al fresco arrest.
Money has to be an explosion of excitement and opportunity, yet we already secretly know that it doesn't do what it promises. Nothing has ever given us as much pleasure as our pocket money when we were 12, or our first wage at the end of that first exhausting week, paid in folded cash.
Mourning the loss of the phone call is like pining for buggy driving or women in hats or three-martini lunches. They've gone.
The pleasure in lovers' gifts is that they are often covert and secretive, worn next to the skin, hidden under pillows.
The Creation Museum isn't really a museum at all. It's an argument. It's not even an argument. It's the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism.
I generally only eat one meal a day, which is pretty unusual for a restaurant reviewer. It's not that I have a problem with food; I'll eat anything that doesn't involve a bet, a dare, or an initiation ceremony.
Clothes maketh the man. They don't make you some other man.
Men and women understand different things about personal boundaries. What men call privacy, women know as secrecy.
As handbags get ever more absurdly large, so they need to carry more stuff to validate the expense of this huge trunk with chains, buckles and padlocks on.
The problem with a man bag is that it's called a man bag.
The one thing politicians will always vote for is more politics, so in 2000 they invented the post of mayor of London without ever really thinking what it was a mayor would do.
Hate numbs the judgment, paralyzes the vitals of democracy.
Other people's traditions look charming and decorative and exotic. They're nice places to visit on holiday, but you wouldn't want to live with one.
When Americans come to London they usually say how much they love the history, the tradition, the splendid tumpty-tum of things whose very repetition has become their point.
One of the small joys that's easy to miss in London is the blue plaques on buildings. These are put up to commemorate the famous on the houses they lived in.
We have to thank the members of the Romantic movement for the sober colours of suits. It was their love of the Gothic that put us in grey and black but the suit stuck.
Mr. Obama is the only popular politician left in the world. He would win an election in any one of the G-20 countries, and his fellow world leaders will do anything to take home a touch of that reflected popularity.
To a British politician, a police officer is as invisible as the railings.
The super-rich watch each other like envious owls, to see who's got a slightly better loafer, a pullover made from some even more absurdly endangered fur. They will go to any lengths to find the best tailors.
Really, I like the future. I appreciate my automatic alarm-call necklace in case I get lost and confused in a mall. I appreciate the watch that tells the hospital my blood pressure's gone ballistic. I like my computer, just as long as it doesn't get ideas above its workstation.
Gift giving is one of the oldest forms of human interaction. It is a behaviour all cultures and all classes share.
It's not in the nature of stoic Cincinnatians to boast, which is fortunate, really, for they have meager pickings to boast about.
I don't have prejudices against anybody. I have opinions, based on a lifetime's experience.
You don't have a choice about fashion or aesthetics - you're in it, whether you like it or not.
The measure of a man's life is how he copes with the terrible wall of fear.
Have you noticed that almost all the change in the world goes to women? When was the last time you had a five pence piece? Exactly. In a Christmas pudding. All the rest of it is in women's handbags.
You see, the problem with Dave Cameron is that people know who he is. The less people know about him, the more he's likely to get re-elected.
Only people who live outside cities realize the size of them. London turns out to be huge; there are great swaths, vast panoramas, a whole diaspora I'd never imagined. The place I live in tends to be manageably small, a few familiar journeys and destinations.
There's no pleasing the British, or winning their favor. They simply hate politicians. All politicians. Hatred goes with politicians like mint sauce with lamb. It's as old as Parliaments.
When you look at traditions closely, examine what they really are, you realize they're made up of layers and layers of deferrals, delays, indecisions, tomorrows and long lunches.
If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn't suffer fools gladly.
A lot of London's image never was. There never was a Dickensian London, or a Shakespearean London, or a swinging London.
The suit is the polite taming, the socialising, the neutering, of riding and military kit. Those pointless buttons on the cuff were moved from lateral to vertical.
The French are never happy coming to London; this is an ancient and comforting enmity.
Being able to afford everything you desire is not, by any means, the worst thing that can happen to you. But, depressingly, and more profoundly, neither is it the best.
Texting isn't writing. It's not like letter writing. Texting is short scriptwriting. It's a collaborative soap opera where nothing happens.
Gifts are an important and necessary part of our collective lives. We need to give and we need to allow others to give.
Have you ever wondered why the rich and privileged care about, or even bother with, the gift bag? Because they don't need this stuff. If they wanted it, they could afford to buy it, without blinking. But they love the gift bag, beyond reason.
I've often been accused of dressing too well. I've always been fascinated by fashion, though I don't think I'm particularly fashionable.
I'm too vain to go on TV. I'd be a monster of self-consciousness. Plus, I've got a ridiculous voice - I sound like a camp friend of Bertie Wooster's.
For men, privacy means not being told stuff that would hurt. For women, secrecy is having stuff go on behind your back.
Frightened is the natural state for all men.
Women's handbags are incredibly heavy. You rarely get to pick one up and, when you do, you wonder why anyone carries so much stuff around all day.