Londoned: “A stateside expression for being overrated, overpriced and underwhelming.”

From the Standard
Like an underground newspaper in a repressive state, copies of the New Yorker are being passed around by shocked London sophisticates. At first glance, it is hard to understand why they should be transfixed by the review of Fiamma, a Manhattan restaurant by one Nick Paumgarten.
The New Yorker rubbishes its cold pasta, slow service and inept bartender. “Fiamma is all prix fixe,” thunders Mr Paumgarten. “The bottom rung is three courses for $89. Throw in Barolo, tax, and tip, and, boink, you’ve been Londoned.”

Er, yes, Londoned. The Urban Dictionary of
modern slang defines it as: “A stateside expression for being overrated, overpriced and underwhelming, as in, ‘By the time the day was over I had been truly londoned’. See also ‘ripped off’ and ‘****ed over’. ”
The shame of it is made all the worse because the New Yorker does not feel it must explain what “londoned” means to its readers. The editors assume that so many of them have gone to what we like to think of as the greatest city in the world and been so londoned, no further elaboration is necessary.
I must acknowledge that there is a grain of truth in the charge. I too have sat in Michelin-starred restaurants where diners are expected to worship celebrity chefs whose most impressive creations are their staggering bills. I can imagine that our hotels and attractions must offer a very low-price-to-value ratio to tourists.
But then I can always flee the centre to convivial Italian restaurants in Clerkenwell, that are infinitely preferable to Fiamma. Or dive into a pub which has survived Labour’s mean-spirited smoking ban, safe in the knowledge that none of the regulars will ask for a Martini.
There is a final point which the New Yorker and many other miss: London isn’t a bad city to be short of money in. If you do not have to worry about housing costs – a big “if,” I accept – you can go from the Tate Modern to the National and on to Exhibition Road. If you don’t want to use up your Oyster Card, tramping the streets of London, sticking your nose into the churches, museums and odd shops is one of the greatest and cheapest pleasures available to humanity.
Perhaps we cannot compete with Manhattan high life. But if we were to take the Statue of Liberty and put it next to the Thames Barrier, its slogan, “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free,” would ring out truer here than it does there.

15 thoughts on “Londoned: “A stateside expression for being overrated, overpriced and underwhelming.”

  1. It’s rare now that I visit London, but when I briefly lived in Manchester the train fare was easier to pay than it is from Carlisle, whence I now sit. I cannot agree more with the case for walking around London. Try living in a near absolutely white city, a town centre the size of a couple of football pitches, and nothing outside the actual castle or museum that would give a resident, never mind an innocent visitor, a hint of the city’s history. I mean it doesn’t have to be like Strafford Upon Avon with streets and lollipops named after Shakespear’s plays, etc, but towns and villages and cities always need that evident sort of coating of what the place is and why. London, I think, is the grand example of everything at once and particular to all. What a place.

  2. You can get a great close up of the Statue of Liberty for free from the Staten Island Ferry by the way.

    Don’t forget the subway system is $2 per ride anywhere in the system — no zoning system. So if you live in New York City, say 10 miles outside of Times Square your commute will cost less than $100 per month. What does a Zone 3 monthly tube fare cost now? Let’s not really pretend that London is kinder to the less well off.

  3. Getting a bit defensive there, Nick. There’s a lot more than a grain of truth in the charge. If I were to get philosophical about it, speaking as a semi regular visitor I’d say London is an over priced, over rated bag o’shite & I always breathe more freely when the train or plane leaves the tarmac taking me away…

  4. I’ve lived in London 15 years and it is, and let’s be fair about this, shit. Dirty, miserable, dangerous, no sense of community whatsoever, heaving with transient folk who have no long-term intention of staying so care not a jot about making the place any better, nothing works, everything’s vastly expensive and the infrastructure’s a joke. That said, there are some nice pubs. Why anyone would live here if they didn’t need to is beyond me, and the sooner we can get out and let the place sink under the weight of its own nastiness the happier I’ll be.

  5. I have lived in both and choose New York….London is ok for a while but only if you are single and making enough money to go out every night for dinner….because if you plan to go to a supermarket to buy a decent steak, good luck!! at least in NY you have and find anything you want, and there is plenty of restaurants to choose from. Fiamma by the way is closed…and it had one michelin star and 3 stars in the NY Times….is there any one michelin star restaurant in London cheaper than what Fiamma was????

  6. ‘When a man is tired of London he has probably been there for about fifteen minutes and is wondering what happened to the twenty pound note that was in his wallet sixteen minutes ago.’

  7. SQUARE MILED: “an expression for being disgusted by idiotic rich people with no manners”

    ISLINGTONED: ditto

    HACKNEYED: “an expression for being mugged”

  8. Disagree. I’ve lived in the States and in France. You can live in London when you are poor. There is a huge counter-culture. Quite a lot of it taking place in Hackney.
    Michelin starred restaurants were symptomatic of the boom of the last decade. Molecular gastronomy the new ‘nouvelle cuisine’ and will soon be ridiculed.
    Hey you could always come to my Underground Restaurant in Kilburn, home cooking and plenty of it, served in my living room for a reasonable price… (
    There are always alternatives in London.

  9. I was born in London and went to school there. I now visit frequently and stay in small hotels run by immigrants, eat in some very nice affordable restaurants and have a great time everytime.

    Ditto New York.

    The experience has to be about more than spending money.

  10. The whole ‘which city is better?’ thing is always a touch daft. It’s usually a case of swings and roundabouts. It costs a fortune to travel from the outskirts of London to the Tate, but the museum is free. The subway only costs $1.50 in NYC but entrance to MOMA is $20. There are pluses and minuses to every big city. And hey, when you come from a city like Derby, as I do, they all seem great.

  11. The fact is that the best parts of London are hidden. It is different from most great European cities in that most of its famous and iconic places are nothing special, and the best and most attractive tend to be in surprising places. One makes an exception for the great museums, which are the equals of all the great museums of the world; but, for instance, Buckingham Palace is nothing comparable to Versailles, Schoenbrunn, the Escorial, Sans-Souci or the Kremlin, and to visit it is certainly a disappointment. On the other hand, how many foreign tourists are even aware of the beauty of the Temple, of Little Venice and the London canals, of some of the villages swallowed up by the city, of the Indian restaurants in Southhall and the Vietnamese ones in Hoxton? These are things that only locals know, and indeed most locals don’t know them all.

  12. No, “Londoned” is a fine expression, which I hadn’t heard before. But I sure as hell have felt it. A similar expression that has entered the vocabulary of my circle is “Connexed”, after the non-lamented but often-imitated French rail operator of that name, i.e. completely screwed up by failures of the transport system. The place has its filthy hands in your pocket the minute you pass the M25 boundary. Yes, it’s fun to visit and you can do a few things there without being filthy rich (though fewer than Nick is implying). But living there – strictly corporate slaves only.

    Yes, Dr Johnson said “the man who is tired of London is tired of life – for there is in London all that life can afford”. Well, we can’t afford it any more, Sam.

  13. I recall similar charges being constantly levelled at New York, to me this is simply an indictment of how far London has come and perhaps a hint at the trend towards the mediocre New York is taking of late. Earn more money and quit whining.

    Or alternatively, stay away from the over hyped locations, there is something for everybody in London it is simply a question of finding it. Unless to highlight its plurality, immensity, or labyrinthian nature, anybody trying to some up London in a phrase or an experience will only reveal the limited exposure they have had to it. It is a happy/horrific home to rich and poor alike. It always has been. It is a magical, mythical monolith of a place and most of its gems that would form well advertised centre pieces in other cities are in London casually hidden away not caring if you find them or not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s