No Londoner can be exact or reasonable about London. This place with the heavy sounding name, like coal being delivered or an engine shunting, is the world’s greatest unreasonable city, a monstrous agglomeration of well-painted property. The main part of the city, 120 square miles of low-lying and congested Portland stone, yellow brick and stucco, slate, glass and several million chimneys, lies a few minutes' flight from the North Sea. There are immense acreages of railway track, and the subsoil is a tangle of tunnels running into scores of miles. Such is the mere core of London; another 700 square miles of what was once pasture and woodland is now continuous red-faced suburb. ... There is an old story that someone was once mad enough to ask a Cockney whether the London he came from was London, Ontario. The Cockney groaned, 'Nah! London the whole bloody world.'1956. The chimneys aren't such a feature, nowadays.
Tuesday, 20 March 2012
V S Pritchett is rather wonderful on the subject of London: