All I know is that my thing with cities is no mere inclination or preference. It is an obsession; and obsession might well unsuit me to write about the City. What I find compelling might bore the reader. And there is the other danger: it is easy to mistake enthusiasm for inspiration, inspiration for 'good writing'.
But do it I must; there are few enough of us who are specifically, utterly, exclusively committed to the city. Woody Allen is one. The opening of 'Manhattan' borders on the boring. He just goes on and on, which is fine by me. In 'Broadway Danny Rose' he is kidnapped by some hoods, put in the trunk of a car and taken out, out of NYC and into the country! He is pulled from the car, his blindfold removed and, if I remember correctly, he looks down and he is standing on… grass. Not that acceptably wan, flattened grass of Hyde Park or Central Park; we don't mind that, Woody Allen and I; no this is serious bushy, healthy country grass; and he treads this alarming terrain like a scalded cat, doubtless saying "Oh my Gaaad, oh my Gaad…" How accurately I remember this is not important. If I have embellished this scene it is because, well, I can relate to the horror, the horror. Of course sometimes, gingerly, are willing to penetrate that heart of darkness: I am talking to a colleague, a computer expert:
"What are you doing this weekend, Des?"
"Well I thought I'd pick up the girlfriend and go out and see some of them shires".
"You know, man….Wiltshire …Hampshire...wossname?…Somersetshire..you know, shires."
But there are few of us who are really city-fixated. Where, when it comes down to it, do even the city writers live? While Jonathan Raban commendably lives in Seattle; the queen of the city piece, Jan Morris "divides her time between her library house in North Wales, her dacha in the Black Mountains of South Wales and travel abroad." (We will overlook that "dacha"; but only just.)