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London Used to Be (Way) Better

October 12, 2009

Sorry to go on about the new-old friends that I made at Grayshott, but I was there on my own, starting from nil on the friend scale, and I am proud of my conquests (see previous posts). Plus, befriending the elderly is surely a form of granny chic. Anyway, last night I had a great chat with Pam, 85, former Hampstead resident, and Anne, 75, of Battle, Sussex, about London . I’d asked Anne if she’d ever lived in the capital and she said no, but that she used to go in to get her hair done at Harrods. How suave is that? Anne is still a super elegant- glowing skin, clam demeanor, in good shape (I saw her pounding it on the treadmill one afternoon) – go figure. But Harrods is not what is was – Anne’s nose scrunches when she thinks of the current ownership and she’s long gone to Harvey Nicks to get her hair done.  She mentions a friend of hers was walking through Harrods when she (and all customers) were told to clear out because Al Fayed was coming through. She went home, cut up her Harrods card and sent it back in disgust. Pam also used to love Harrods – but she’s gone right off it too. She, too, finds it “awful” and “completely different” since Al Fayed took over. In fact, the ladies agree, Knightsbridge in general has sadly gone down the drain since the oil-rich you-know-who’s-took over. “I suppose we were lucky to know London when we were young,” says Pam, who spent World War Two doing signalling and codes in the Marines . “It was a golden age of sorts. It was lovely.”

Not long ago, Pam was having a nostalgic coffee at Harrods when a young woman asked her about her relationship with the store – she was writing a paper on the topic. Pam talked for an hour, and finished by asking the girl to point out any English people. “No, nope, no, she’s not, he’s not, no way” – there were one or two. Point made: London was so much more congenial when English, and Harrods was Harrods only before Al Fayed came. Anyway, it was these well-spoken, deeply non-political ladies discussing hair salons of yore and past dinners on Motcombe Street, that said it, not me!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Melissa permalink
    October 12, 2009 9:09 pm

    Z: Did they mean English as in white or English as in not tourist? (or a fuzzy line of potential non-offensiveness in between?) I am no Londonder so I don’t know the nuances…. Did I ever tell you about my old lady friend who made me come with her to the dentist and then, upon being told that the dentist wouldn’t see her any longer because of her lack of insurance, told the (Turkish immigrant young woman) dentist how her people had murdered the Armenians and they should be ashamed of themselves? And then told the receptionist that what the Americans need is a good war at home to get them to stop acting like such brats. Old people are fascinating…

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