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.
[F]R. Roderick Leece moved from a parish in Stamford Hill 11 years ago to become Rector of St George’s Hanover Square, the parish church of Mayfair. St George’s has a reputation for dignified and traditional formal worship based on the Book of Common Prayer, and magnificent music provided by a fine professional choir. Handel was a regular worshipper, and the church is legendary as the venue for celebrated weddings – even the fictional one in My Fair Lady, and the place where cabbies might well be asked to ‘get me to the church on time’! Through its charitable work the church supports the neediest and vulnerable residents of Westminster and during the last year launched the Food Coupon scheme for homeless people which has been described elsewhere.
What’s your secret London tip?
Excellent affordable jazz at The Vortex. I preferred the old Stoke Newington days and don’t know the Dalston venue very well – but the programme remains good. Central London needs more jazz.
What’s your secret London place?
Not so much secret, but ‘getting away’: Wandering down from Springfield Park to the River Lea and ambling along from Lee Valley Park through to Hackney Marshes.
What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Pedestrians walking into you as they are reading or sending texts.
What’s your favourite building?
The inside of St Pancras Station – means I’m probably going somewhere nice.
What’s your most hated building?
The front of King’s Cross Station – unless I’m going somewhere nice. Although the new side entrance is great.
What’s the best view in London?
On the bridge across the little lake in St James’s Park looking towards Horse Guards Parade and the exotic skyline behind it. Or the peaceful view in the other (palatial) direction.
What’s your personal London landmark?
The Royal Festival Hall, simply because my trips to London as a teenager were always for great concerts, and I’ve always loved the walk over Hungerford Bridge.
What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
An era and mood are summed up beautifully in Antonioni’s 1967 film Blow-Up.
What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The original (although I am not a vegetarian) Rasa which serves Keralan food in Stoke Newington Church Street.
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Completely on foot. After a morning swim, walk to the Wallace Collection and meet a friend for coffee after about 30 minutes concentrating on a small part of the collection – saving lots for future visits. Then walk through the parish here down Bond Street, past St James’s Palace and into the park (for that view!) and Horse Guards to the river for tapas and a glass of rosé on one of those boats moored near Hungerford Bridge – Hispaniola. Walking back via Westminster Abbey, through Green Park to Hyde Park for tea in an open-air café. Rounding off with a Prom and one of the great value £7 seats in the Balcony. Mind you, they more than get their money out of you at the interval.
Music is as important to St George’s now as it was when Handel sat in his own pew. At a cost of £2.5m a new organ was installed, the first of its kind in London. Much has been repaid they still have a mountain to climb. At this time of giving you may donate here.