Dave Hill | The Guardian: Paul Theroux and the London of Lady Max

A short story by the American travel writer and novelist writer captured a capital of the recent past that already feel rather old

Digging through one my dusty bookshelves recently I got reacquainted with Lady Max, a short London imaginary memoir by the American writer Paul Theroux, who lived in the city for 18 years from 1971. The title character is a controlling English aristocrat who lives in the Boltons, where house-hunters can currently find the second most expensive homes in Britain (average price, £26.6m). There are some rich descriptions of a London that already feels half-disappeared:

Going out alone into the winter night took an effort of will, like crossing a frontier, because I was re-entering London after a full day in the fastness of my tall house.

It was such a quiet and gently city at night, with shadows on its face; it was a city that slept, a city with a bed-time. And in this part of the city the skyline was old-fashioned chimney-pots, slates roofs and church spires. On these winter nights I had the illusion of being a part of it, an alien being swallowed by the citys shadows, and transformed.

After a weekend – Saturday shopping, Sunday outing to Box Hill – I met Lady Max at Blackfriars and he took me across the river to see some rotting Dickensian warehouses at Shad Thames.

All of these wonderful old buildings will be renovated and made into hideous little flats for awful people one day.

That week we went to Strawberry Hill, to Hogarths house in Chiswick, to Worlds End, to the room Van Gogh had rented in Brixton, to the sir John Soane Museum. In had crossed Lincolns Inn Fields thirty time and had never been aware of this lovely house that had been converted into a museum of exotic treasures. Often I would be lookimg at a gable, or some fretwork, or a picture, while she monologued in her offhand way about something totally unconnected, usually sexual.

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via Dave Hill | The Guardian http://ift.tt/1lqcfng

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