The London Grill: Jane Parker

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.


[J]ane’s London, is almost 8 years old. Jane is a graphic designer by day with a keen eye for composition and detail. She has lived and/or worked in London for over 30 years and has always been interested in the little things on London that most people walk past every day, such as coal holes, weather vanes, boot scrapers and old signs. Jane has uploaded over 6,000 of her London photos to Flickr and many of these are used to illustrate her observations, recommendations and rants on Jane’s London. Jane also collects clay pipes fragments from the Thames’ foreshores and uses them to fashion unique pieces of jewellery which she sells at Spitalfields market for details see her website.

What’s your secret London tip?
London is much smaller than people think… forget the underground and get walking… the straightest and quickest route isn’t always the one you first think of. For instance, The City to Westminster is a short stroll if you go south over London Bridge, walk to Waterloo via Borough, and then cross back over either Westminster or Lambeth Bridge. You’ll avoid the crowds and find some unusual things on route.

What’s your secret London place?
Well, it wouldn’t be a secret then, would it?!

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
The prices of bus and tube fares. They go up by way more than the percentage quoted every year and it’s embarrassing trying to justify this to tourists. LRT certainly isn’t spending the money on keeping the public-facing areas of these service clean (see middle part of this:

What’s your favourite building?
This changes almost monthly. I like functional solid beauty with clever enhancement as on St Olafs House (Tooley St), or Summit House (Red Lion Sq) and Holland House (Bury St EC3).

What’s your most hated building?
The bloody Shard of course! It’s just a pointy glass tower. That’s all it is; glass arranged into in a pointy shape. With an extra bit added on the top to make it even taller. I fail to see that it’s anything to be proud of. I am sick of these “iconic” bullying buildings that look like they have been clipped together from off-the-shelf component parts, with no style, design or finesse. So what, that you can see it from all over London! No thanks. It just doesn’t compare with the wonderful tall buildings of the past century, especially those in NYC, such as The Chyrsler Building or The Empire State.

What’s the best view in London?
I like the view from Suicide Bridge in Hornsey Lane, especially at dusk.

What’s your personal London landmark?
The place that comes to mind is the Lighthouse building at Kings Cross. I have been watching it for years to see what will happen to it, and was very upset when someone got up there and sprayed graffiti on the uppermost parts.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
I just read West End Girls by Barbara Tate in which she tells her fascinating and in-depth story of working in Soho from the 1940s onwards. As regards films, I love End of the Affair (1999) set in WW2. And I always try to watch any old film set in central London, such as The Lavender Hill Mob which has many scenes filmed in and around the post-war bomb sites that make up the area between St Pauls and Cannon Street. Fascinating stuff.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
A pair of Sam Smith’s Angels . . . outside on the river at Bermondsey Wall watching the sunset through Tower Bridge, or inside at St Giles, within one of the little sectioned bar areas.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
If the weather is good I will be out just following my nose down streets I don’t know taking lots of photos. Or I might be on an obscure guided walk. I almost crave dull or rainy days so that can stay in and sort through the photos at home.

This ‘Grill’ was first posted on the Radio Taxis blog.

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