Books England

Hey Lady

My new year’s resolution last year was to read something by Proust. I really wanted to read Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life but somehow that didn’t see like a very legitimate thing to do without having read anything by Proust first. A year later the red spine of volume one of In Search of Lost Time is still staring back at me from my bedside table, nestled between Any Human Heart and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Unlike those book club mandated tomes, the pages of ISOLT remain unsullied by my nub nailed fingers.

So this year I made another new year’s resolution, one that would enable me to keep last year’s, albeit behind schedule. I’d let my subscription to The New Yorker expire in February and reallocate NYer reading time to ISOLT. It seemed like a good plan until this morning when Rachel Johnson, sister of the slightly mad Boris the mayor of London, appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk about the magazine she is now editing, The Lady.

Now why didn’t anybody tell me about The Lady? It’s taken me years to unravel so many of the mysteries of proper British life, things like marmite, the difference between hunting and shooting, and what a gilet is and how you pronounce it. And yet all along—125 years to be exact —there has been a magazine to guide me in the ways of British ladyship. According to the news anchor its reputation of late has been the best place to advertise if you are in search of a nanny, but Ms. Johnson has livened up the old dowager. It even has literary and Cotswoldian links, having been established by the grandfather of the Mitford sisters. Coming up on my one year anniversary of becoming a Brit I feel I am practically a lady anyway. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than subscribing….to yet another weekly.

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  • Reply
    February 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I lived there for six years and don't recall seeing it. I worked in London and learned the ropes the hard way. I remember going to a 'meeting of xpats wives' since I wasn't living that life and married to a Brit, it didn't apply, and felt like the odd woman out, but I did pick up a handy dictionary! Never went back. Those women scared me more than acclimating.


  • Reply
    February 7, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Ha, I had a similar experience during my first year in London. I went to a very scary gathering of American bankers' wives/ladies who lunch types. Needless to say I never went back either!

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