We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.
[B]orn in London in 1948. My first real job was in the print – working at The Times (just like Boris). Then I did the Knowledge and passed out in 1970, making me one of the youngest taxi drivers in London. I love the London taxi trade and have tried to put a little back by writing for The Badge as ‘The Nut Behind the Wheel’ and I also represent the LCDC as a rep at Heathrow.
What’s your secret London tip?
If you are from out of town I urge you to try a local dish – pie and mash. You may hate it, you may be indifferent but, if you love it, then there is definitely a bit of London in you.
What’s your secret London place?
Without a doubt it is the London Wetland Centre at Barnes. Even if you are not over keen on wildlife it’s a great place just to walk around and get a few lungfuls of fresh air and de-stress. It also has a great little restaurant and is just a mile south of Hammersmith Bridge.
Road works, cyclists, TfL and the Mayor. Take those four away and you will be left with paradise.
What’s your favourite building?
The London Natural History Museum in Cromwell Road – not only for its beautiful cathedral-like exterior, but also for the exhibits to be found inside. It probably nurtured my life-long love of nature when I often visited it as a child. And the tourists always remark on it on the way into town.
What’s your most hated building?
City Hall – it looks like it’s falling over, which hopefully one day it will. The only thing the architects got right was to position it facing across the Thames to Traitors’ Gate.
What’s the best view in London?
There’s many, but the view from the top of Parliament Hill takes some beating. Just don’t go up there wearing a white polo-neck jumper.
What’s your personal London landmark?
Swiss Cottage. Living in north London it’s one of those places that, if I get a job there, I can’t decide whether to keep going north towards home or turn around and go back into the West End to work on. I get pulled both ways and my decision usually depends on how much I’m holding at the time.
What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Apart from the obvious A-Z of Greater London, I like the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: London by Michael Leapman. It’s so well laid out, and the illustrations are 3D-like. I’d recommend this one to Knowledge students, too.
What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
How can you choose? There have been times when I’ve welcomed the sight of a drive-in MacDonalds and others when I’ve envied the well-heeled diners I’ve just dropped off at Le Gavroche. Generally, though, I’ve never been disappointed in any of the many Spaghetti House restaurants scattered around town. However, I must admit that my favourite restaurant is Scott’s in Mayfair. I’ve never been in there but it always looks so enticing. It opened in the Haymarket in 1851 and moved to Mayfair in 1968 – now that’s what you call well-established. I’m saving up to give it a try.
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
I’d take my grandchildren to London Zoo because children interact so naturally with animals. Then I’d treat them to a pizza in the West End to give them a taste of the hustle and bustle of the best city in the world.
This ‘Grill’ was first posted on the Radio Taxis blog.