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The part of London where I live

Maybe it’s because it’s the New Yorker

An irate yet devastatingly accurate text arrives from’s indefatigable New Yorker correspondent ((Thanks to Daniel.)):

Worst New Yorkerese ((Previously in “worst New Yorker-ese”: The best way to think of; Put it to me this way; Luscious.)) sentence I’ve read in a while: the great John Lahr ending his review ((This review; full text not available online.)) of a play Daniel Radcliffe is doing on Broadway with these words: “As they say in the part of London where I live, ‘Nice one, mate.'”’s INYC did not explain why this sentence was so bad, but if pushed I would guess that it is the cringe-inducing, horrifyingly misfiring claim to expertise, attributing to merely one (coyly unidentified!) area of the metropolis where the writer evinces such pride in residing a phrase that can be heard not only all over London but probably all over England, at the very least?

Thus declares the New Yorker writer: “I do not just live in London; I have listened with brilliant and scholarly attention to the characteristic expressions of congratulation that are peculiar and unique to each traditional subdivision of that great city. Be assured that I know that, in contrast to the part of London where I live, where everyone says ‘Nice one, mate’, in East Fenchurch the local gentlemen will instead say ‘Jolly good show, my dear fellow!’, while in Croydon-on-Thames the salt-of-the-earth chappies will recite a stanza of George Formby while soberly stabbing you in the face. I am thus not only a great theatre reviewer, but a folk linguist of rare and precious discrimination?”

What do they say in the nearest part of the closest metropolis to where you live, readers?

  1. 1  James  April 14, 2011, 2:21 pm 


    10 points if you can guess where that’s from without searching.


  2. 2  sw  April 14, 2011, 3:32 pm 

    As we say in the part of New York where I live, “Good point!” However, we say it from our stoops, often to someone kvetching about the time he was on line at a bodega behind a hack whose only comment on the Bombers was Fuhgeddaboudit.

    John Lahr is a sentimental favourite, for obvious reasons, but his judgement about the theatre is only slightly better than David Denby’s take on the cinema, although he is a better writer than Denby. I challenge you to find anything similar in the writing of Nancy Franklin, and would be willing to eat my collection of New Yorkers if you find anything similar in Schjeldahl or Acocella.

  3. 3  sw  April 15, 2011, 1:55 pm 

    Of some relevance to this post?

  4. 4  Steven  April 16, 2011, 6:15 pm 

    That is of some relevance!

  5. 5  resistor  April 19, 2011, 1:16 am 

    John Lahr lives, or used to live, in North London.

    He should know that it’s not ‘mate’, but ‘son’ – as in the old Spurs’ chant.

    Nice one Cyril
    Nice one son
    Nice one Cyril
    Let’s have another one

    Call a stranger ‘mate’ in London and you’ll get the reply, ‘I’m not your mate!’

  6. 6  sw  April 19, 2011, 7:49 pm 

    If your father was the Cowardly Lion, you too might have a twinge of doubt about the casual use of “son” and slip a “mate” in its place.

  7. 7  democracy_grenade  April 28, 2011, 2:37 pm 

    It’s the coy lack of identification that gets me. You’d think that, once you reach John Lahr’s age, you’d be careful not to use phrases that suggest you can’t remember where you live.

    Besides which, naming some obscure Londinium nook would surely be a lot more conducive to the authenticity claim he’s making than that clumsy wordpile (& would add a dash of local colour). I suppose he didn’t do that because he wouldn’t expect his NYT audience to be sufficiently familiar with London to get that he’s name-dropping an obscure part of London (hence the reason he’s comparatively authentic in the first place). The trick is to pick a place that sounds appropriately obscure, Anglo (with all that entails), etc.. (I don’t know London well enough to make a suggestion…)

    Also, is it to late to get these CBS adverts updated to read “Maybe it’s because you live in the part of London you live in”?

  8. 8  sw  April 29, 2011, 3:57 am 

    “As they say in North Ealing . . .” Nah, doesn’t have the same ring. Speaking of Londinium nooks: Will and Kate! The royal wedding! I’m sure I speak for the entire Unspeak Community when I say, Happy Wedding Day, Will and Kate!

  9. 9  Steven  April 29, 2011, 12:34 pm 

    You so do.

  10. 10  redpesto  May 3, 2011, 4:03 pm 

    “I’m sure I speak for the entire Unspeak Community when I say, Happy Wedding Day, Will and Kate!”

    Only if ‘Wills’ is UnSpeak (‘Will’ doesn’t work; ‘Willy’ is too rude; ‘Bill’ too familiar; and ‘Billy’ too Protestant)

  11. 11  belle le triste  May 3, 2011, 7:21 pm 

    It’s not impossible this was a badly handled fact-checking intervention.

    JL: “As they say where I live, “Nice one, mate.”
    FC: “Readers don’t know where you do live.”
    JL: “As they say in Ponders End, ‘Nice one, mate.'”
    FC: “But our readers won’t know where Ponders End is… “
    JL: “As they say in North London’s Ponders End, ‘Nice one, mate.'”
    FC: “… or actually why you’re mentioning it.
    JL: “As they say in North London’s Ponders End, where I live, ‘Nice one, mate.'”
    FC: “Seems a bit clumsy now.”
    JL: “Grrrr, write it however you bloody want!”

  12. 12  Steven  May 4, 2011, 9:55 pm 

    I do hope that is how it happened.

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