Urban legends

In the moist, muggy days of England's sort-of summer, when I should be out playing croquet with hedgehogs, bathing my milky, sun-shy skin in cucumber-plump Pimms, and wearing a little something like this, I've been mentally rooted in the subscape and the skyscrape of the beast we call City: that bustling, shadowed playpen filled with cruising, bruising men.

Yup, I've been at the DeLillo again, and his overflowing epic Underworld has dragged me into a dark, drugged little headspace where a multifarious ratrace scamper across the scaffolding of my mind. I can't think for the din. The novel's patchy, occasionally pompous, but it works: Good Master Linville, you were right.

And while we're talking urban legends, it would be SEO suicide not to mention our most recent and revered metropolitan movie, The Dark Knight. That's right, The Dark Knight. With Heath Ledger. The Dark Knight with Heath Ledger. That one. It's a tale of two cities, with Gotham painted as both wild Grendelian monster and maiden in distress. She offers her damaged, vainglorious knights - Batman, Joker, Dent - her streets for a stage, and the love of her disloyal litter for a grail. Spectacularly, sexily and savagely, they burrow deep; and when they emerge, bloodied, maimed and burnished, they have become hers: men turned monumental.

We Brits like to humanise and ennoble our streets, from Dickens' lilliputian London love-songs to Antony Gormley's upstanding, wide-horizoned men. But the Americans, with the brownstone brickdust still fresh in their throats, beat us hands down at capturing the energy of a modern metropolis, its fertile everyday force.

Yup, DeLillo is great, The Dark Knight is great, Heath Ledger is great. Man. Who'd a thunk it?