Chandeliers are marvels of drop-dead showiness, the jewellery of architecture.

— Peter York

The most viral Peter York quotes to discover and learn by heart

Tabloid discussion of bad children always blames baby-boomer liberals, careerist mothers and fashion-crazed Nathan Barley types who think it's all enormously funny. But the centre-leftish psycho-thinker Oliver James says it's all down to the Thatcher-and-after culture of turbo-capitalism, making people acquisitive and unsatisfied.

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The newsprint thesp celebrity interview as a middle-brow art form suffers from desperate overproduction. There'll be at least 10 in the broadsheets today and every Sunday hereafter.

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I can't actually read interviews with thesps now because they're almost always fantastically predictable, the men especially. Actors are forever stressing their ordinariness, their beer and football-loving commitments.

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Like lots of baby boomers, I was brought up on archaic anthropomorphism.

Upstanding Christian dogs. Rabbits with family values. Because the ancient texts and pictures were sacred - Potter, Milne and the rest. Even concerned parents who knew Freud and Jung never saw the contradictions in feeding us on them.

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Rock and roll is the hamburger that ate the world.

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In the future, people will blame the Eighties for all societal ills in the same way that people have previously blamed the Sixties. The various Thatcherite Big Bangs - monetarism, deregulation, libertarianism - have been working their way through the culture ever since.

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In the 1940s, cigarettes would be shown in classy situations, endorsed by celebrities - real A-list Hollywood stars in America - the ads would make claims about tobacco quality or manufacturing science and, bizarrely, some brands had what almost amounted to health claims.

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Global new money has houses everywhere, and serious helicopters, it doesn't aspire to the Miss Marple life of St. Mary Mead.

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Successive generations of middle-class parents used to foist their own favourite books on their children. But some time in the late Eighties it began to wane - not because children had lost interest in adorable animals but because most of it was available on useful, pacifying video.

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All brands, whether high-ticket luxury ones such as Cartier or Rolls-Royce or 'masstige' ones with luxe-y overtones but altogether more affordable, all want to grow. Even brands that may have started in a modestly niche design and lifestyle fashion can find themselves under pressure to go global or to sell out at the top.

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Have you got a Beemer, an Audi, a Saab or a Volvo that replaced a Ford, Vauxhall, Rover or Nissan? Many Brits have. Your first Beemer. A particularly nice smell of leather. Something rather plain but satisfactory about the interior. And that lovely enamel wotsit in the middle of the steering wheel. A moment of quiet 'because I'm worth it' pride.

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If beauty isn't genius it usually signals at least a high level of animal cunning.

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About Peter York

Quotes 61 sayings
Nationality British
Profession Journalist
Birthday October 16

By the late Nineties, we had become a more visual nation.

Big-money taste moved to global standards - new architecture, design and show-off contemporary art. The Sloane domestic aesthetic - symmetry, class symbolism and brown furniture - became as unfashionable as it had been hot in the early Eighties.

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I often find myself worrying about celebrities.

It's an entirely caring thing; it's not like the people who commission those photographs with cruel arrows to go on the covers of the celebrity magazines. The photographs show botched plastic surgery, raging eczema, weight gain and horrible clothes for maximum schadenfreude.

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There is an interior style we intellectuals and design policy wonks know as Haut Euro Pooftastic, which really takes the biscuit.

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Girls like Diana Spencer, armed with nothing more than a guinea-pig-rearing certificate, proud to say in that old Sloane way that she was 'as thick as two short planks,' became the exception as girls from Benenden and Downe House started to fast-track towards the City and law, consultancy, media and the arts.

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Celebrity poverty, that's the hidden scandal in Blair's Britain.

You can't help but worry for them. A girl I knew developed X-ray eyes for celebrity sorrows. She taught me to read the subtext of the down-market celebrity interview, she knew all the Hollywood codes, and followed the deep backgrounds.

3

When you get inside a literary novel you feel that the author, more often than not, just doesn't know enough about things. They haven't been around enough - novelists never go anywhere. Once I discovered true books about real things - books like 'How To Run a Company' - I stopped reading novels.

3

There was a time when formal clothes were one of life's great pleasures, as well as a way of describing instantly a man's status wealth. Toffs wore the most, the proles the least. Fast forward to 2008 and clothes are still an unrivalled pleasure but some men - and this includes many of our betters - have confused status with fake informality.

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For me, wearing a tie is a pleasure, a recherche one but a pleasure nonetheless.

You could say that I'm avoiding tie avoidance. My own gorgeous collection runs into hundreds and I buy them the way I buy books - I simply can't pass a shop. I have loved them since I could spend my own money on them.

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Sloanes aren't cafe society or NYLON hedge-funders with million-pound bonuses, or London Eurotrash wearing upgraded style anglais. Ann Barr's and my original picture of them in 'The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook,' published in 1982, was of an upper-middle-class world, conservative and fairly homogeneous, united by old attitudes and institutions.

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By the 1980s, practically no one under 60 in the real civilian world wore hats for anything except weddings, funerals or Ascot. Hats had been in competition with hair, and hair had won. Thirty years before that, Brits of all classes and ages wore hats all the time.

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The White Company offers its loyalists an altogether better, whiter world.

The White people have edited out any colours that aren't white, off-white, milk chocolate, grey, taupe or black. They can't be doing with Johnnie Boden's cheery Sloane jokes, his spots and stripes, his occasional 'if it's me, it's U' loud colours.

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George Bush is by American standards rabidly Upper Class - Eastern, Socially Attractive, WASP, 19th-century money, several generations of Andover and Yale (and, while we're at it, his father, George H. W. 'Poppy' Bush, was a former president and his grandfather was the Nazis' U.S. banker in the 1930s).

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I can remember when anything further downtown New York than Canal Street was risky and the whole area still looked like a 70s cop movie location; when the original loft-owners were more dash-than-cash, artistic types.

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Selling scent is a key job for celebrities.

At any one time, there'll be hundreds of them at it, going on the world's talk shows, doing photo-shoots, providing employment for thousands. Celebrities are instant brands.

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Stephen Jones' hats are what we used to call 'creations';

extravagant, odd things for extravagant, odd people like Madonna or Lady Gaga. They're worn in a parallel universe.

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Decorators never quite saw the point of massing books.

Books brought colour to a room and filled it up, but shelves bearing just one thing struck them as a decorative display opportunity tragically lost.

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Prince William looks good in uniform and Man-at-Hackett black and white tie (he has grown up wearing it constantly); less certain in his suits, which sometimes look borderline archaic; and variable in casual. But completely comfortable in the Sloane uniform of non-designer jeans and chocolate-brown suede loafers. He'll look fine in Boden.

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It's just as well that I write in the same facile way wherever I am - no blocks or anguish, no contemplation, no elaborate revision, no need for love-tokens or nice views.

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The old process of social assimilation used to be mainly about English new money - generated in London, the mucky, brassy North or the colonies - buying those houses and restoring them, and doing the three-generation thing, mouldering into the landscape, and the 'community,' identifying with the place in a familiar way.

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Pop managers are fixed in the dramatic stock character repertoire too, ever since the first British pop film musical, Wolf Mankowitz's 'Expresso Bongo' of 1959, with Cliff Richard as Bongo Herbert and Laurence Harvey as his manager. The key components were cast as X parts gay, X parts Jewish and triple X opportunistic.

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Men turn to formal wear when they want a new job or when they think their current one is in danger. They try to present themselves as powerful and successful.

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London clubland divides itself between the St James's refuge for toffs, and the Conquest of Cool, for the arts and media.

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Marmite - like that other little black-jar job, Bovril - is so much a Mark 1 staple-of-Empire brand, so much part of the Edwardian world of enamel advertising signs, the history of grin-and-bear-it industrial food.

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People are fretful about lifestyle retailing because the idea that anyone's immortal soul and deepest longings can be quite so readily anticipated and consolidated with several hundred thousand other like-minded types is worrying.

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Kate Middleton's a pretty girl who sounds nice.

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When I hear about something allegedly happening in the world I always ask: who is doing it? Trends break out because they're based on real demographics, like there being fewer nuclear families or more people living alone. If 10 people in Shoreditch are doing it, it's a 10-minute fad.

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There are pop managers, and then there's Simon Cowell, who isn't gay, Jewish or particularly riveting. He's not without interest but he doesn't exactly have the hinterland of, say, Brian Epstein.

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In London - and forget those extra public pressures on politicians - the lovely old Sloane world of manor houses simply hasn't cut it since Big Bang in 1986, the point at which Mrs. Thatcher really started to achieve her ambition to make this country more like America - its ambition, economy, it's very tangible measures of success.

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I cling to the basic set of tenets laid out in Tom Wolfe's 'New Journalism' - to get out there like the great French novelists of the 19th century and study life. I am a Tom Wolfe fan of the first order.

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Real writers - serious writers with serious subjects, who earn their living at it - all seem to write in small rooms with that knotty-pine 1974 look on the top-floor rear of their houses. Rooms with views.

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In Britain, eponymous lifestyle branding as we know it started in the late 1960s, with two fascinating families - the Conrans and the Ashleys - who in increasingly brilliant settings and catalogues sold rather different visions of what the new ideal upper-middle-y life looked like.

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Advertising has always been a huge unrecognised source of outdoor relief for the arts.

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I'm certainly not a person who spends their every waking moment soaking themselves in signs and signals of the sort that cult studies people study; and it's partly, I suppose, because some of those signs and signals aren't worth bothering about. You have to be selective about these things.

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Eponymous brands aren't that popular with analysts and investors now.

You can only take an eponymous brand with a living figurehead so far, they argue. What happens when they grow old and die? What happens when they misbehave and go seriously off-brand?

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Socially smart people have always mocked the threateningly mobile, and anti-branding is a central strand of high-end status conflict now.

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The library was one more essential in the parade of rooms in a big 18th-century house - and part of the required kit ever afterwards. The important thing was to have the books, not actually read them.

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If you've done a bit of journalism, everyone assumes you must be moving into PR.

We're absolutely not becoming a PR agency and we're not turning into Brunswick. We will remain SRU, but we will be owned by the Brunswick Group. It's quite different.

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