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Britain in the 1950s was a country stratified by class and region. But in most of its cities, suburbs, towns and villages there was a good chance of predicting the attitudes, even the behaviour, of the people living in your immediate neighbourhood.

In many parts of Britain today that is no longer true. The country has long since ceased to be Orwell’s “family” (albeit with the wrong members in charge). To some people this is a cause of regret and disorientation – a change which they associate with the growing incivility of modern urban life. To others it is a…

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