[ BOOKS ] ✭ London Made Us Author Robert Elms – Ormskirkremovals.co.uk


10 thoughts on “London Made Us

  1. says:

    I feel great affinity with Robert Elms This may be because I listen to him on BBC Radio London most days It may be because we re both the same age It may be that both of us are at Loftus Road for most QPR home games Or it may be a sense of shared roots.So, plenty of connections But also, it has to be said, plenty of differences Robert Elms is a very sharp dresser I m not He is very cool and very connected I am neither He is a Londoner born and bred I may live there now in Barnes, an area for which Elms can never disguise his contempt but, after a Woking birth, my childhood and adolescence was spent in Surrey.Elms was brought up in Burnt Oak, far closer to the heart of London than Surrey, but still distant enough to make him feel marginalised, and sympathetic to others in the same boat I think Paul Weller, a man of similar age, attitude and attire, whom I admire enormously and whose London family were exiled even further, to Woking, carries a similar burden.And that s another connection I too align myself with The Jam frontman even if, in my case, the only point of similarity is that we both hail from the same place see My roots may be closer geographically to Weller, but I feel I know Robert Elms much better, and, after reading this hugely enjoyable, informative, revealing memoir, that is even the case When Elms writes of his childhood in Burnt Oak that it was full of O Keefes, Kellys and O Neills I almost think I could have been one of them But I was in Weybridge at the time, and my O Keeffes have two f s.So London, for me, is not what it is for Elms But that doesn t mean I wasn t seduced by London Made Us Reading it is very much like listening to the Robert Elms radio show one moment you re listening to a cockney geezer, the next you re being spoken to by a sophisticated intellectual Robert Elms is aware of these two sides of his personality, telling us that he learned to be socially and vocally schizophrenic Even within a sentence his writing moves from one register to another, from what Elms calls his Radio 4 voice to his back of a cab or shouting at referees voice He calls this a completely unconscious chameleon response, and in doing so makes us regard him, like the subject of his book, as something of a shape shifter.Elms s language is just like his accent to this day I have an accent that leaps about all over the gaff Note that Gaff Not place Gaff Another sentence begins in Standard English only to end by stating that the building had gorn Not gone Gorn Sometimes the cockney was a bit too much for this Surrey boy I understood I jumped in a sherbet only from the context sherbet dab cab And when I came across this observation from Elms about his two linguistic selves I was baffled I could spot a jekyll dicky or a pair of snide daisies with the best of them But I could also talk pretty good grammar school when required I have no idea what a jekyll dicky is, or indeed a pair of snide daisies I googled both and the only thing that came up was Googlebooks directing me to Robert Elms s London Made Us This transition from one register to another embodies and reflects the importance of class and social mobility in the book, issues which find their most powerful expression in Elms s relationship with his mother Her death, movingly described in the Introduction, together with her words This is no longer my London , provides the book s starting point, and she and Elms s ancestors remain a presence throughout.Social mobility and class lie at the book s heart and I would be surprised if Great Expectations is not Elms s favourite Dickens novel An early Magwitch reference alerts us to the possibility, but a later scene convinces us Elms describes taking his mum to a Japanese restaurant when I was doing all right, making a few bob, living in a flat in Bloomsbury and pretending I d had a sophisticated palette all along It s his Joe Gargery moment , one that turned him into Pip And throughout London Made Us there is a sense of Robert Elms as Pip, educated beyond his station , torn between the Forge of Burnt Oak and cutting edge London.Throughout there is a sense of Elms, like the mature narrator of Great Expectations , casting a guilt ridden backwards glance at his errant youthful behaviour It is, though, a little inconsistent He may talk of his fondness for silly haircuts and the preposterous poetry with which he introduced Spandau Ballet at one of their first gigs, but he can also tell us that all I wanted was to be a face about town or refer to himself as an urban elitist with no accompanying ironic judgement.Elms s love for his city is profound Equally apparent is his love for language He s a linguistic barrow boy, hawking his verbal wares, foisting on us three phrases where one would do He s unable to resist the rhythmic trick, the wise guy gag, the lure of alliteration or the look at me flourish Hence our harshly polyglot peripherique , this all pervading, all providing, all devouring behemoth of a birthright , this bright and shiny or maybe shite and briny twenty first century Babylon , a rollicking redoubt of totters and tearaways.When it comes to London, though, Robert Elms knows his stuff and London Made Us is a great read His memories are personal and heartfelt, his knowledge hugely impressive His love of the city is profound, and, as he takes you on a tour of his life and manor, he proves to be great company, even if you sometimes feel trapped in the back of his sherbet with your ears under assault London Made Us is about the city s ever changing nature, its refusal to stay as we remember it It s also about loss, something with which, as a fellow QPR fan, Robert Elms is very familiar There is so much here that strikes a chord Not least the claim that the greatest ever London song is Debris.


  2. says:

    I could hear Robert s voice throughout this book, being an avid listener to his BBC Radio London radio show The book is a gentle ramble through his family s past in the city but I must admit I was hoping for detail For someone who doesn t listen to his radio show and is therefore not familiar with many of the nuggets of information he imparts on a daily basis, this book will be revelatory I was just hoping for family history and detail That said, it s been a lovely Easter read.


  3. says:

    Blitzed kid Robert Elms s paean to his home town veers occasionally into Maybe it s becawse a I m a Londoner sentimentality, though mostly he keeps this in Prince of Wales check Elms burnished his credentials as a pop social historian with The Way We Wore, which was basically him flicking through the contents of his wardrobes whilst telling stories, and London Made Us is cut of much the same cloth.This works for me and maybe others too because I m from here I can remember at infant school Redmans Road, Stepney, since you ask, gentle reader that we played on the day bree debris , the wartime spoil next to our school similar to sites that pockmarked the face of London as late as the 70s, and that this wasn t strictly allowed and would lead to a telling off in assembly next day from Miss Storey Not that this was particularly frightening, for, as my mother remarked, by the time they leave for primary they re usually a foot taller than her Or the Dolphinarium in Oxford St yes, really, somewhere near where Primark now is at the Tottenham Court Road end if I ve followed Elms s directions correctly and which I d wondered about for years I had a strong memory of such a trip from Redmans Road not of the dolphins, which I can t remember a thing about, but because my mother, having unusually failed to follow instructions, had furnished me not with a packed lunch but only a bag of crisps Golden Wonder salt and vinegar , and having wolfed these within 10 minutes of the coach departing, I was miserably hungry for what seemed like eternity Such is the stuff legends are made of But I could never picture the dolphinarium itself and the coach journey for a class of six year olds couldn t have been that far, so it remained a mystery until now The Oxford Street Dolphinarium opened in 1970, and closed following a fire three years later, so the timing is about right Don t worry, the dolphins were unharmed although maybe their mental health wasn t so rosy after three years in a disgracefully small paddling pool doing degrading tricks for an audience of shrieking cockney urchins But whether any non Londoners will be as enthralled by Dr Robert s prodigious feats of memory is another matter rather like Dave Haslam s Mancy memoir last year, you probably had to be there, at least partly Thanks also for Gamage s, Mr E another Clarke family favourite, mainly due to Jackie the mynah bird on the first floor Elms can t be accused of wearing his knowledge lightly he s a blue badge guide crossed with a London cabbie and you re not allowed to forget it At nigh on 300 pages there s a lot of history, mythology urban and personal , and mystery, in densely packed pages I got to 288 and a low moan escaped me when I saw postscript to follow And he s got a few Maconiesque ticks inherited from the inky rock weeklies characters are all too often introduced as one as in one Robert Elms and there are many variants of aforementioned , which always makes my buttocks clench In places it s labour than love, but mostly his utter passion for the Smoke blows through, and well, it s lovely actually.


  4. says:

    There was so much in this book which was familiar to me I became a Londoner when I came to London at the age of 16 I lived in a grotty staff hostel in Gants Hill and worked in a horrible job in Walthamstow It was 1968 and I was both excited an scared shitless I quickly changed jobs, spending the next 10 years working in Piccadilly at Fortnums and managing a shop in Old Compton St The places and faces Robert described were exactly as I saw them Maybe I remember about the clubs and pubs described when they were in previous incarnationslike the Soho Brasserie when it was The Helvetia I remember having a few drinks with an American guy called Mike who was waiting for his wife to finish work across the road It was Twiggy and she was playing Cinderella.I went to many of the live music pubs Robert wrote about and a few years later my son played football for Watling Both my sons and my wife have worked in the Holborn Clerkenwell area for decades now and my brother still lives and runs his business in Doughty St.I bought this for my kindle but it s a book that needs to be in my bookshelf.Derek


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London Made Us London Is A Giant Kaleidoscope, Which Is Forever Turning Take Your Eye Off It For Than A Moment And You Re Lost Robert Elms Has Seen London Change Beyond All Imagining The House He Grew Up In Is Now The Behemoth That Is The Westway Flyover, And Areas Once Deemed Murder Miles Have Morphed Into The Stuff Of Estate Agents Dreams, Seemingly In A Matter Of MonthsElms Takes Us Back Through Time And Place To Myriad Londons He Is Our Guide Through A Place That Has Seen Scientific Experiments Conducted In Subterranean Lairs, A Small Community Declare Itself An Independent Nation And Animals Of Varying Exoticism Roam Free Through Its Streets A Place His Great Great Grandfather Made The Elms Home Over A Century Ago And A City That Has Borne Witness To Epoch And World Changing Events

  • Hardcover
  • 320 pages
  • London Made Us
  • Robert Elms
  • English
  • 26 February 2017
  • 9781786892119

About the Author: Robert Elms

Robert Elms is a British writer and broadcaster Elms was a writer for The Face magazine in the 1980s and is currently known for his long running radio show on BBC London 94.9 His book The Way We Wore, charts the changing fashions of his own youth, linking them with the social history of the times.