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.
[L]ondon tour guide, London taxi driver and proud Londoner to boot. My company is called London Cab Tours and it’s been going for about ten years (although I’ve been guiding for over fifteen): www.londoncabtours.co.uk
I can be seen taxi touring and walking my clients around central London, visiting London’s highlights, big sights and back streets. Tour themes cover London Highlights, London Rock’n Roll and London Horror. Tours to Hampton Court Palace are always good fun too and I also have an English Countryside Tour, which ventures out to villages in the Chiltern Hills.
What’s your secret London tip?
Look up above eye level. The architectural, sculpted and carved details on London’s buildings are many and varied.
What’s your secret London place?
Guildhall, Gresham Street, EC2. The Guildhall Art Gallery has London’s best collection of Pre-Raphaelite and 19th century paintings as well as displaying London related art from the 17th to the 21st century. Remains of the Roman Amphitheatre, discovered in the 1980’s, sit magnificently below, in what is now the Art Gallery basement.
Guildhall and porch
The 15th century Great Hall, second only to Westminster Hall in size, has one of London’s best collections of statues and sculptures. The City of London Police Museum has recently relocated to the Guildhall West Wing, right next to the Guildhall Library which has the largest collection of London related books in the world. Underused and it’s all free.
What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Traffic congestion – its causes and the people who cause it.
What’s your favourite building?
St Paul’s Cathedral. This building can be enjoyed from the Golden Gallery to the Crypt, the tip top of the Dome to its subterranean depths. Unique.
What’s your most hated building?
Baynard House, Queen Victoria Street, EC4. It was/is a BT telephone exchange and represents Brutalist architecture at its worst (don’t get me wrong, I quite like Brutalism, but not this one). The remains of a Roman gateway were discovered here, a Norman-to-Tudor era castle stood here and a Royal Palace not far away. Who’d know that now?
What’s the best view in London?
The individual and unique view from every bridge over the River Thames.
What’s your personal London landmark?
Wembley Stadium. I grew up and still live in NW London.
What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Film: Kind Hearts and Coronets. Anti-hero Louis D’Ascoyne Mazzini was raised in Clapham (filming was in Acton), reaches the giddy heights of St James’s and ends up (spoiler alert) condemned to hang in a ‘London Prison’.
Book: 1984. A ‘London’ book to its bones, it still horrifies.
Documentary: The Secret History of Our Streets: Episode 6 – Arnold Circus. This BBC 2 series was great and the final episode about Arnold Circus and the Boundary Estate was BBC social history production at its best. Fascinating and beautifully touching.
What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
At the moment, Tas (Anatolian Turkish food, various sites, I usually end up at the one in The Cut, SE1).
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Museums, art galleries, exhibitions + lunch probably in Soho or Covent Garden. To be ideal it also has to be sunny and dry.