'If I had to live somewhere other than New York, then London would be high on my list. I've been here only half a dozen times in the past 25 years but London's got a certain graciousness and elegance. It's also very green - there are lots of parks - which is important to me. Conversation is a good indication of the humanity level of a city. In New York we can end a conversation in two seconds: 'Right. That's it. Gotta go.' Here in London it's almost impolite to end a conversation. I like that.

There's a lot of bathroom jokes over here that we New Yorkers find very childish. Which is surprising because we think of Londoners as being incredibly adult.

How does it compare to New York?

Well, I guess the

infrastructure in New York is generally newer so it works better.

In the States the

telephone system seems more efficient, the water is always hot. Stuff like that is not taken for granted here. But the oppportunities are vast in

London, if you work in any form of media, definitely. I think the theatre is probably better here than in New York now too. What would I do if I could

have a perfect day off in London? I

would ask to be shown around some of those delightful private Regency houses, just to see what they're like inside. And hang out in some beautiful gardens, maybe those out at Kew.

But my favourite place is the Chelsea

Arts Club. If you stay there it's a bit

like camping; but it's fun for parties.

That's where I'm going tonight. I

love the people who hang out there. Artists who live in London are the

most unpredictable and kooky in

the world.'

(Photograph omitted)

John Berendt is the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, published by Chatto and Windus

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