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These islands

Each month, our new column will look at life in one of the five capital cities of "these islands." As this is Prospect's London month, we start in the old imperial capital

By Simon Jenkins   April 2007

London is the world’s top city, so it is shouted from the rooftops. Back in the 1980s boom, when London “boosterism” was first emerging after decades of the British disease, an American immigrant told me that there was only one reason the world was rushing to colonise the place. It was because being a Londoner was like living not in a city, but in a small town like he had known back home.

Only recently has London even referred to itself as a city rather than a town. It was never planned, laid out, formalised or, until the 20th century,…

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