Category Archives: The Grill

The London Grill: Boris Johnson

In view of Thursday’s seismic results, I am republishing Boris Johnson’s London Grill written for CabbieBlog when he was challenging for the London Mayoral election. It is now a little dated, but I hope still worthy of rereading.

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.

Boris-Johnson

Boris Johnson was born in 1964. He was a trainee reporter for The Times, subsequently working at The Daily Telegraph, where he became an assistant editor. He was editor of The Spectator for six years up to 2005. He has also published a number of works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently The Life of London. In 2001 Boris Johnson was elected MP for Henley-on-Thames. He was been Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party and held shadow government posts for the arts and higher education. He resigned as an MP shortly after becoming Mayor of London in May 2008. During his first term, he banned alcohol on public transport and oversaw the 2012 London Olympic Games, in 2012, he was re-elected as Mayor. On 12th September 2014, Johnson was adopted as the Conservative Party candidate for MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the 2015 general election.

What’s your secret London tip?

I would urge Londoners and tourists alike to seek out and enjoy a full English breakfast at one of the amazing family run so-called ‘greasy spoon’ cafes that have existed in this city for generations.

What’s your secret London place?

A trove of attractions is one of our less well-known gems. Across the river from City Hall, is the most wonderfully preserved stretch of Roman wall. Dating back to around 200 AD, it is a fantastic opportunity to marvel at the ingenuity of our Roman forebears, who built Londinium and helped shape the city we see today.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

It is a modern tragedy that so many of our young people are struggling to get a foothold in the jobs market and are drifting into crime. We need more youth opportunities and improved literacy levels in our schools so that they are equipped to compete in the global market, which will help them to succeed in life and aspire to a better future.

What’s your favourite building?

Home.

What’s your most hated building?

Standing derelict for more than 20 years, the Granary Building threatened to be a blight on an area in central London that is amidst an amazing transformation. It has now undergone a spectacular reincarnation from a barren building to a university for the arts. It has become a fantastic focus on the regeneration of the King Cross area, matching my own vision for the city.

What’s the best view in London?

The view from my office window. The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the City, Canary Wharf and the giant treble clef that is the Orbit visitor attraction in the Olympic Park. There’s no better view in the world.

What’s your personal London landmark?

The most iconic new landmark of modern times is the Shard of Glass. This huge engineering feat, rising confidently up to the heavens, is a symbol of how London is powering its way out of the global recession.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

Johnson’s Life of London, it contains a number of historical characters whom I greatly admire.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

London is a fabulous destination for gourmands, with more than 50 Michelin-starred chefs working at some of the best restaurants in the world. It is quite literally a cornucopia, with delicious food from across the globe to tantalise all taste buds.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

A bracing walk in the winter cold or an early morning jog in Highbury Fields is a perfect way to start your day. Followed by a visit to the British Museum, it’s a wonderful Mecca offering an unparalleled collection of historic artefacts and gems.

The London Grill: John Kennedy

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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

[W]ell known for his campaigning on London cab issues, John Kennedy was a regular contributor on the late Big George’s BBC London Radio evening show. He has recently become an urban trainspotter, seeking out the myriad of London’s bollards some over 200 years old, and featuring them on his website, and has recently been featured in Time Out’s blog.

What’s your secret London tip?

Always use a licensed London taxi-cab.

What’s your secret London place?

The benches built into Hammersmith Bridge, take a close look next time you cross.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

The failure and huge cost of Transport for London. I honestly think this company is not needed nor required. Each part of London’s transport infrastructure has its own management structure.

What’s your favourite building?

The Palace of Westminster, the Gasworks . . .

What’s your most hated building?

My most hated building is City Hall, it sums up the London Government. You go round and round in circles yet never end up where you want to be.

What’s the best view in London?

The roof of Bush House, I was lucky enough to be invited up there on New Years Eve by BBC World Service, the fireworks were fantastic.

What’s your personal London landmark?

It must be the bollards in the City of London.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

The Long Good Friday is my favourite film, I like to read non fiction and presently I’m reading about our constitution.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

My favourite pub is the Crown & Greyhound (the dog) in Dulwich Village SE21.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

My ideal day off in London would be just walking around Regent’s Park with my wire haired fox terriers . . .

The London Grill: Brian Wright

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]rian was born in Pimlico in 1951 and lived there till 1984. When he left school in 1968, he served an apprenticeship and then became a compositor in the print but was finally made redundant in 1975. He has been a taxi driver for 38 years, on Radio Taxis for 32 years and a chauffeur on and off since the mid-1980s. He says that this is the best job in the world if done right because its flexibility allowed him to get a degree in Irish Studies and Modern History at the University of North London in 1994. Following that, he did some minor journalism, wrote one one unpublished play and is currently writing another about being a teenager in Pimlico in the 1960s. Having recently and finally migrated from film to a digital camera, he hopes to use his recently-started blog, www.capitallettersblog.com, to show off the real London that he sees in his daily travels.

What’s your secret London tip?

Go into the City of London on a Sunday and just walk through the back streets and alleys. It’s hard not to be affected by the weight of history that will meet you and easy to imagine how life was back in medieval times. Just get lost, don’t try to get anywhere in particular.

What’s your secret London place?

St John’s Lodge, Inner Circle, Regent’s Park. Completed by Sir John Nash in 1819. It’s close to the junction of Chester Road, around one o’clock as one looks at the map. The Lodge, a private residence, has a secluded garden open to the public which is accessed through a pergola. It’s one of the most tranquil spots in London that I know.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

People who move out of London saying that London is no place to bring up kids. Rubbish. I took my daughter to everything that I could think of from Club Row with people just selling shoes on the pavement to the English National Opera, from The Oxo Tower to pie and mash shops. She has a set of mental tools now that she’ll draw upon for the rest of her life.

What’s your favourite building?

The Queen’s House, Greenwich. I love Palladian architecture and this was one of Inigo Jones’s first such efforts. It’s graceful, in a beautiful location and just one illustration of what makes London the greatest city in the World.

What’s your most hated building?

1 Poultry, London EC2. The worst (or best?) example of Post-modern architecture I can think of. When I was a kid, I had a building set consisting of geometrically-shaped wooden blocks and this building reminds me of that. It replaced a beautiful neo-Gothic Mappin & Webb building and the only good thing about its demolition was that they found a Roman wooden drain during excavation. Whenever I can bear to gaze at this stupid building, I expect to see Di Caprio and Winslett on the balcony atop its axis a la Titanic, the movie.

What’s the best view in London?

It’s a cliché, but Waterloo Bridge, any direction, any time of day or night.

What’s your personal London landmark?

The junction of Warwick Way and Denbigh Street. My parents met in 1936 in the basement of the draper’s shop in Denbigh St that was The Madrid Club, the headquarters of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. My father sold The Daily Worker on one corner of the junction while Sir Oswald Mosley and his thugs sold theirs on the opposite corner, the site of many a battle against fascists. There used to be a menswear shop on one corner in the 1960s called Phillips where I bought lots of Mod gear in the day. Just up Wilton Road was also one of the first Wimpy Bars in London.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

The London Encyclopaedia, essential reading for anybody curious about this great city.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

La Famiglia, 7 Langton St, Worlds End SW10. Opened by Alvaro Maccioni in the mid-1970s, I ‘ve been going back again and again since then and am yet to find better Italian food in London served con amore, with love. Alvaro also had a pizzeria in King’s Road in the late 1960s to which I and my mates used to go to on a Sunday night after coming out of the Bird’s Nest pub and they’re still the best pizzas I ever tasted. Alvaro is still seen in La Famiglia these days, keeping an eye on their very high standards.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

I believe in using public transport wherever possible. So it’s a quick continental breakfast at my local St David Coffee House opposite Forest Hill station. On to the recently extended East London Line from there to Rotherhithe and then I’ll walk along the south side of the river as far as the Southbank for some of the best views of London.

Cutting through Trafalgar Square into Soho and it’s lunch at Pizza Malletti in Noel Street for the best pizza al taglio this side of Napoli. A browse through the used record shops that still exist in Soho and Hanway Street, I’m still trying to fill the gaps in my collection of jazz and 1960s soul and ska.

Over to Bar Italia in Frith St for the best coffee in London and, recharged, I’m walking down to the National Portrait Gallery for a leisurely gaze and some temptation in its shop. Then my beloved 24 bus that I went to school on to IL Posto restaurant in Vauxhall Bridge Road for my favourite spaghetti vongole. If I’m lucky, I’ll bomb back to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club for the second house and a taxi back to Forest Hill.

The London Grill: Malcolm Edwards

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.

I’m a 60 year old West Londoner, born in North Kensington I moved all the way to Notting Hill 30 years ago and have remained here ever since. I am a strictly amateur photographer and an irregular blogger (London Ramblings for those interested!). I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.

What is your secret London tip?
There is a whole lot more to London than the famous historical sites. Wander freely, there is something of interest just about everywhere. Don’t forget to look up, there’s a lot going on above eye level . . . and don’t be afraid to go south of the river LOL

What’s your secret London place?
Never give away too many secrets but for a quiet plce to sit and think in the City, try he garden of St Dunstan in the East . It’s best avoided during the middle of the day as it’s a popular spot for the local office workers to spend their lunch hour, but at any other time it is certainly worth a visit.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
The usual, uncoordinated road works, traffic congestion, expensive public transport. Museums and galleries that close too early. People (both tourists and locals) who treat the city as one huge litter bin.Oh yes, and the Olympics!

What’s your favourite building?
St Paul’s, closely followed by the Natural History Museum.

What’s your most hated building?
One New Change, no contest!.

What’s the best view in London?
I love a high viewpoint such as Primrose Hill or Greenwich but the cliched truth is that it is the view from Waterloo Bridge. Both upstream and down stream. A great place to watch the sunrise and, especially, the sunset.

What’s your personal London landmark?
The Post Office Tower (yes, I am several name changes behind!), with special mentions for the much maligned Centre Point and Trellick Tower.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
The Lavender Hill Mob for it’s views of the war torn area around St Paul’s.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The Angel, Bermondsey Wall. A good place to sit outside on a summer evening with a pint and some friends and watch the sun go down behind Tower Bridge. Plus, everyone should visit E. Pellici on Bethnal Green Rd at least once in their lives!

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
On a good day. Breakfast and a book in Holland Park. Followed by a walk through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park down to the river. Across Westminster Bridge and along the South Bank to Tower Bridge. If the tides are right, that would include a walk along the foreshore from the Royal Festival Hall to Bankside. From the Tower I would head back west through the City until either the time or my legs suggest that it would be a good idea for me to hop on a bus home. On a bad day, either South Kensington and the big three museums or the British Museum, lunch in the Great Court followed by an random wander through the galleries.

The London Grill: Geoffrey Riesel

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.

[T]ODAY WE GRILL Geoffrey Riesel ex-Chairman and CEO of Radio Taxis Group for his responses. His interests include music, reading, movies, theatre, Manchester United, Formula 1, driving, food and drinking champagne. He should know a thing or two about London for he has held a taxi licence for many years. Rather against the spirit of “The Grilling”, he claimed that it was quite nice to do, but he did have to think quite hard because he has so many favourites, so his answers must come under favourite favourites.

What’s your secret London tip?
Take the river bus from Greenwich Park to Westminster and back; London looks so magnificently different from the river.

What’s your secret London place?
The Goring Hotel, it is such a calm, old fashioned and gentile backwater.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
It has to be the “traffic calming” bumps and street furniture along with CCTV cameras being used to “nick” cab drivers who are just going about their work.

What’s your favourite building?
The Savoy Hotel fantastically restored luxurious art deco building.

What’s your most hated building?
Centre Point. I attend the CBI London Regional Council there and even the inside is totally soul-less.

What’s the best view in London?
From the top of the London Eye.

What’s your personal London landmark?
The Gherkin is a smashing and iconic building.

What’s your favourite London film, book or documentary?
It’s a toss-up between The Lady Killers filmed at Kings Cross starring Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom and Passport to Pimlico starring Stanley Holloway.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
Also the Goring Hotel restaurant with crystal lights by Lord Linley and cordon bleu English food including one of the Queen Mothers’ favourite recipes.

How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London?
Taking my grandchildren to play around Primrose Hill, then lunch at Harry Morgan’s Salt Beef bar in St Johns Wood and finally taking the grandkids around the toy department at Selfridges (I’m sad to say the music department there is no more). Then finally buying some deli from Selfridge’s food store before spoiling the Grandchildren with chocolate from Selfridge’s resplendent sweet shop.