“…Rev TB Pandian claimed that London was ‘Mecca for the traveller in search of truth, a Medina of rest for the persecuted or the perplexed in spirit. Though centre of perpetual motion, it is still the Persepolis of human grandeur in repose. To the searcher after enlightenment it is a Budh-Gaya; a Benares for the sinner in search of emancipation. Damp, dirty, noisy London, thou art verily a Jerusalem for the weary soldier of faith.'” Sukhdev Sandhu in The Daily Telegraph on the black and Asian writers who preceded Zadie Smith and Monica Ali. Someone tell him, though, that “dissolute” is an adjective and that the Indians who first went to London may have feared leading a dissolute life, but they couldn’t, grammatically, have become “dissolutes” en masse.

And Peter Ackroyd is quite clear that he is not London. The Guardian asked him whether the “character of London was close to his own”. ‘”No. No, I don’t think so.” Describe your own character, I say. “It’s male, it’s old, it’s diseased, it’s impatient. I don’t know, that’s it.” It sounds pretty close to London, I say. “Does it really? Noooooooah. No similarities at all.”‘

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