If London Were Like New York: Antique Schizo-Manhattanism

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From Harmsworth’s Magazine, February 1902

“Note: For the purposes of this article the gentle reader of the “London Magazine” will kindly consider himself or herself living in the year of grace 1907. The American invaders, having captured the tobacco trade, the railways, the boot and shoe market, the match factories and most other industries worth winning, found themselves feeling homesick occasionally, but rather than return to the United States they adapted London to their liking – EDITOR.

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It seems odd in these days to find a man of education who is really alarmed at the rush and noise of London streets, and I was almost upon the point of calling my cousin Dave a poseur, when he arrived at Victoria Depot, and pretended to be upset by the way the porter grabbed his bag and made off before you could say “Jack Robinson.” Yet I soon remembered that Dave had been in Africa since ’01 and that great changes had come about since then. So I explained that the man had asked where he was going to put up, and was probably now half way there; and that by the time he got to my flat the Trades’ Union Trust valet would have his clothes properly unpacked, brushed and put away.

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“But,” said Dave, “wouldn’t it have done just as well to have taken the stuff with us in a cab?”

“A cab,” I replied, “why my dear boy, only back-number people do that sort of thing now-a-days. Here you are, home from an all-night journey, hungry and wanting a bath, and yet you talk of cabs. What you really want is a toilet and a breakfast, if you are anything like the old Dave of ‘Varsity days.”

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“Oh, well, go ahead,” he sighed, “shew me your Yankeefied London, if you like, only get me out of this before we are mobbed.”

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“Very well, come along,” said I, and led the way through the crowd of yelling porters and touts, each crying the virtues of his own particular method of transmitting baggage, or extolling the merits of the hotel for which he had been sent to solicit patrons. Outside, Dave seemed surprised, but said nothing. Evidently he was wondering what had become of the cabs and omnibuses that used to fill the open space in front of the station, before the new street cars had killed their trade. But it seemed best not to explain matters, so we had reached the electric car-track before the temptation proved too strong, and I remarked, quite casually, that Buckingham Palace Road had been renamed Fifth Avenue, and that the thoroughfare once known as Piccadilly had suffered a similar fate. Dave said never a word …”

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Again, Much more at Forgotten Futures

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Forgotten Futures is Marcus Rowland’s table-top role playing game based on scientific romances, the predecessors of science fiction that were published in the late 19th and early 20th century – anyone fancy a game? It comes with three hundred megabytes of additional Victorian and Edwardian source material, which can’t be bad.

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