a couple of weeks ago I was on the Robert Elms show on BBC London, doing the Listed Londoner slot – actually it was with Dotun Adebayo, as RE was away (which meant we got to be cheerier about south London anyway, and to discuss Charlton* in the music bits off air, so that was nice) …
Anyway, I love this slot on RE’s programme and I really enjoyed doing it, especially as TaniwhaThames is so very London-full and every day in the rehearsal room we’re reminding ourselves more and more what we love (and occasionally loathe!) about this delicious city.
so, here’s my answers to the questions. I’d be really interested to see your answers – and for your other home cities too.
1. What’s your favourite neighbourhood? Loughborough Junction (of course! readers of The Room of Lost Things know that!), Brixton, our stretch down Coldharbour Lane including Brixton Village, or a slight detour over to the Ebony Riding Club.
2. What’s your favourite building – Tate Modern. For the views, the members’ room views, the art. (er yes, possibly in that order!) And the views. And the river. And the Rothkos. And the astonishing things that appear in the Turbine Hall.
3. What’s your most hated building? The Barbican. For being so impossible to find your way around – and for the plague pit ghosts that lurk in the loos.
4. What’s the best view in London? The four-sides balcony from the top of New Zealand House.
5. What’s your favourite open space? Brockwell Lido/Brockwell Park.
6. What’s the most interesting shop? (I don’t shop much, am not very fussed about buying things, but for variety and foodstuffs and eating out) : Brixton Village.
7. What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant? The Lido Cafe at Brockwell Lido (though The Cambria – my local – comes pretty close, just doesn’t have a water view!)
8. Most memorable night out in London? The night before our wedding, just Shelley and I, a drink with two good friends, a snack to eat, a quiet night in the pleasures of The Zetter (we had no honeymoon as Shelley had a play opening 3 days later, so we had night before and night of our wedding at the Zetter – the luxury of a hotel room in your own town!!)
9. How would you spend ideal day off in London? Swim (Brockwell Lido), walk (Brockwell Park), maybe Tate Modern, maybe swim some more, maybe walk some more.
10. Where would you take someone visiting from out of town? London Eye, coffee at RFH, walk to Tate Modern, a drink there, maybe pop over the bridge to St Paul’s, a boat down to Greenwich, walk up the hill to the Observatory for another spectacular view, down the hill to the Painted Hall, boat back when the buildings are all lit up. Lovely.
11. What’s the worst journey you’ve had to make in London? Walking under the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, going to my mother’s, having had the phone call to say she had died, instead of – as had been planned – doing that walk so I could take her out for lunch in Greenwich, up the road from where she was living. But I was ‘in’ her river, the river she loved, and heartbreaking through it was, it was also kind of right.
12. What’s your personal London landmark? Waterloo Bridge. The view, the fact that it’s the “Ladies’ Bridge”, the fact I cross it several times most weeks (such a gift of south London living – to cross the river so often), the loveliness of the National lit up, the gorgeous 1950s lines of the RFH, Somerset House (and fountains) … all good.
13. Who’s your favourite fictional Londoner? Becky Sharp.
14. What’s your favourite London film, book, or documentary? Lost Rivers of London by Nicolas Barton (1962)
15. If you could travel to any time period in London, past or future, where would you go? To one of the Frost Fairs when the Thames froze over.
* Dotun is a Charlton supporter – when I was 3 watched the World Cup final (that World Cup final) – and have a memory of my brother jumping up and down on the settee so hard I was bounced off. I also remember thinking that, because we lived in Woolwich (next to Charlton) and because Bobby Charlton was playing he was kind of ‘ours’ – because he must play for Charlton, right? with that name? Perfect logic for a three-year-old I reckon.