Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Grosvenor Square

Lovers of London, and here I mean those that love the city of London as opposed to those that love in London (one has to be so careful nowadays not to be misunderstood) should rejoice in the news that the Embassy of the United States is proposing to re-locate its prestigious embassy, at present an excrescence on one of the cities most attractive squares, to more congenial climes.
Apparently, the locals of Mayfair have become rather tired of the Americans acting as if they owned the whole square. Not content with having the ugliest building ever erected there (it was a 1960’s creation, apparently inspired by the Stalinist school of architecture), they have spilled over into the roadway, erecting obscene barricades from behind which steely eyed marksmen view the passing citizens with grave suspicion.
Years ago, in pursuit of a Visa to enter that blessed land, I was admitted to the inner sanctum, only to find that the atmosphere within was about as welcoming as its appearance was on the outside. The lady dealing with my application was clearly distressed that there seemed to be no good reason for denying my request.
An embassy is regarded as being part of a nation’s overseas territory but here it has encroached upon a bit of Mr. Livingstone’s parish, and the appearance of the barricades totally ruins the appearance of what, if one excludes the embassy building, is still a most attractive square. Now administered as one of the Royal parks, it is, after Lincolns Inn Fields, the largest square in London and it is, perhaps, time that it is returned to Londoners in its entirety.
If and when the Embassy moves, its location is still under consideration, no doubt the new residence will be surrounded by the same elaborate security measures that have been constructed in Grosvenor Square.
If you, I or the neighbours next door had erected similar barricades around our property, apparently a needed precaution in Britain today, the authorities would be there in double-quick time to demolish them and serve us with an order of some sort.
They might also ask, “what had we done to make us so afraid?”
America might ask itself the same question.
The present United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James is a former car dealer. Better than an earlier one, I suppose. Joseph P. Kennedy was a bootlegger.


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