Magazine article The Spectator

Caroline's Back in Town

Magazine article The Spectator

Caroline's Back in Town

Article excerpt

COOLER, FASTER, MORE EXPENSIVE: THE RETURN OF THE SLOANE RANGER by Peter York and Olivia Stewart-Liberty Atlantic Books, £19.99, pp. 336, ISBN 9781843546771 £15.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655

The Sloane is dead -- but long live the Sloane. Her mother, Caroline, and father, Henry -- the original Hooray -- may be in their natural retirement homes in the Shires or Scotland along with the family dog snug by the Aga in the cosy kitchen, but she, we now know, using her native skills, has burst out of her famous 1980s stereotype to adapt to the new order. It's an amusing conceit, with enough truth for 20-year-olds to have a wry laugh at themselves.

Twenty-five years ago, a series of articles written by that grandee of social observation Peter York, in the then vital directory of upper-middle-class social mores Harpers & Queen, identified the various not-so-exotic creatures whose centre of the Known World was Sloane Square. The Sloane Ranger and her appendages -- family, pets, educational qualifications, clothes, holiday preferences and rules for life -- were the topic of numerous handbooks and diaries housed, naturally, on the loo bookshelf of every young thing who knew they were -- or aspired to be -- just like Caroline, Henry and their friends. It was a huge and very successful injoke. Peter York has, firmly tongue in cheek (but with a disturbing accuracy), amused himself with a look at the next generation of this once proud species in a new egalitarian, classless, meritocratic world. And surprise, surprise, there they all are. The names have changed -- a little -- and this book, hardback, slicker and shinier than the original (like its subjects), will join its dog-eared paperback predecessor on the loo shelf. It will amuse, although there is less attention to detail.

There have been some hiccups in the past 20 years. Perhaps the most devastating was the rather confusing evolution and totally unexpected conclusion of the young life that had been the Sloane icon -- Diana's.

Featured centre-cover on the original 1982 handbook, she flew dazzlingly close to the sun and crashed to earth. But a previous crash had already sent cracks and ruptures through the Known World. The City's Big Bang of 1986 allowed deregulation and exposed old boy networks and career paths that had been taken for granted. …

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