Magazine May 3, 2010, Issue

A Little of the Old Ultra-Decline

Detail of a poster for My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison (Warner Bros./IMDb)

Many years ago, I asked the late Alan Jay Lerner, author of Camelot, Gigi, My Fair Lady, and much else, why, as a Broadway colossus, he chose to live in London. And he replied that, in his opinion, Britain was the most eminently civilized society on earth.

Even then, his view of “civilized society” seemed somewhat anachronistic. Anecdotes involving Alan tended to end with punch lines like “The Duchess of Windsor’s air conditioning is dripping on my Rolls” (I forget the build-up). Still, even in the Eighties, one could see what he was getting at.

I thought about Lerner the other day

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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