What’s the Word for London?

I was reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert the other day. Marvelous book. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I’m usually an envious reader, harrumphing my way through bestsellers, all nitpicky and sniffy. But she managed to pull me in and make me laugh out loud. I’ve even learned a thing or two about meditating.

It’s a perfect book to curl up around when you’ve a stonker of a cold. Which I had a couple of weeks ago. I think my body gave out after a year-long obsession with getting my child into a good secondary school. The day after we got an acceptance letter, I woke up honking.

So I took to bed with Eat, Pray, Love and came upon the passage where she talks about how each city has a word that best describes it.

Rome supposedly is Sex

New York is Achieve

L. A. is Success.

Her Swedish friend said Stockholm was Conform.

And I started wondering, what is London’s?

Besides Property?

Personally, I’d have to say Accepting.

Londoners just seem to walk around, unflummoxed by the melting pot of nationalities, abilities, interests and economics that is London. Oh, sure, there’s grumbling and whinging but there doesn’t seem to be a big hoo haw about it.

There is of course the multicultural element. The veritable United Nations in every tube train compartment. But it’s something more. It’s the long post office queues which meander quietly around the corner. The mixed neighborhoods of million pound and council houses. The take-your-turn-driving necessary along its narrow roads.

That’s what always strikes me about London. So I nominate Accepting as its word.

Anyone out there care to throw out some ideas?

photo by heerbhup (flickr)



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9 responses to “What’s the Word for London?

  1. I think you could be right – find London very accepting, of so much. I think it’s the reason that you get such an eccentric mix of types/class/races of people, because it generally is an accepting city 🙂

  2. Lisa

    Hi Nina,

    I’m so relieved! It’s good to know someone else grumbles through bestsellers picking out the faults and wondering “why did this sell a million copies!” I used to live in Poughkeepsie NY – about 70 miles north of NYC – the word that would describe that place could have been “Beware!” The sign when you enter that city should’ve said “Welcome to Poughkeepsie..Good Luck.”

    Glad to see you are home safe and sound. Also happy to hear that your daughter was accepted to the school you wanted! Take care and welcome home 🙂

  3. merrill

    Hmm..”accepting” was not the feeling in the air this am!
    Major road works have begun along a busy school-run route!..yikes!..

    I do think “car” behavior might be a whole different thing!

  4. ninakillham

    Hi, Merrill, that’s so funny. I was just thinking that London drivers were wonderful!

  5. ninakillham

    Hi Normal in London, thanks for commenting. I love the name of your blog!

  6. carlascorner

    My husband and I love London and visit as often as we can, which is always during the American Thanksgiving holiday in November and once during the early Spring if we can afford both the $$$ and the time off. If I were to describe London in one word, it would be “resolve”. There seems to be such a resolution among Londoners to get things done, to make things right, to be courteous in spite of others’ bad manners, and sometimes just the resolve to get through the hectic pace that the wonderful city can have.

    I am glad I found your blog. I work full time and write when I can, having published one book, so I can relate to your challenges. All the best.

  7. ninakillham

    Thanks, Carla, for the great comment. Resolve is a good one!

  8. boo

    I haven’t read the book so maybe it’s different from the film but in the scene in the film they say the word for London is “stuffy.” Does it not say this in the book? I have to say I think it’s a very out of date perception of what London’s like. I’d say “eclectic” is a good word to describe London.

  9. ninakillham

    Stuffy? That’s interesting. No, she doesn’t mention London in the book. (that I remember!). London is a lot of things but stuffy? Nah! ‘Eclectic’ is very good. Thanks for commenting.

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