Tag Archives: The Grill

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: Sean Patterson

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.

Sean-Patterson

[S]EAN PATTERSON is an actor and walking tour guide who has lived in London for 35 years. His specialist walks examine Victorian philanthropist Charles Booth’s famous poverty maps, and Sean includes loads of historic and contemporary readings too. He moved to the riverfront at Deptford two years ago and loves to row a Thames Cutter all year round.

What’s your secret London tip?
When not in a cab, ride on the top deck of a bus. Many streets that look dull at ground level, like Tottenham Court Road, look great higher up.

What’s your secret London place?
The bottom of Back Hill in Clerkenwell. You can clearly hear The Fleet River flowing below the drain in the middle of the road.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Late and cancelled trains!

What’s your favourite building?
The BT Tower, or Post Office Tower as I continue to call it. When I was a kid I assumed all buildings would be like that in the future, but it remains unique.

What’s your most hated building?
The Walkie Talkie. It’s overbearing.

What’s the best view in London?
The view from the terrace of my flat on the river in Deptford. City skyline to the west, Dome straight ahead and Greenwich to the right.

What’s your personal London landmark?
The Cutty Sark.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
The London Nobody Knows narrated by James Mason. My God London was awful in the sixties.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
Dog and Bell pub which is my local in Prince St Deptford. It’s old-fashioned without being old-Manish, the atmosphere is great and the beer suburb. It’s got more CAMRA awards than practically anywhere.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
On the river. I’m part owner of a Thames Cutter so we’d row down to the Thames Barrier and maybe stop for lunch at The Gun on the way back to Deptford.

The London Grill: Mandy Southgate

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.

Emm

[I] am a South African expat living and working in London. By day I work as a Finance Officer but in my spare time I travel, explore London and blog about my adventures at Emm in London.

What’s your secret London tip?
The best way to discover the city is by foot.

What’s your secret London place?
The bombed out church of St-Dunstan-in-the-East.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
You know those signs everywhere telling you not to abuse staff at banks, train stations and doctor’s offices? They drive me crazy because more often than not, I witness those staff being rude and disrespectful to the public. London: that should change.

What’s your favourite building?
The Shard. I began photographing it when it was a hole in the ground and captured each stage of its development over the next four years.

What’s your most hated building?
The wire mesh monstrosity known as the Boiler Suit. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, it houses the old boiler at Guy’s Hospital and it is simply hideous.

What’s the best view in London?
So far, the best view I have personally had is from the London Eye but naturally, I cannot wait for the viewing deck at The Shard to open up.

What’s your personal London landmark?
Southwark Cathedral.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Andrew Duncan’s fabulous book Secret London: Exploring the Hidden City, with Original Walks and Unusual Places to Visit.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
Ooooh, it is right on the far boundaries of London but I would have to say the Miller and Carter at Hall Place, Bexley.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
I recently realised that there is just so much I still have to do in London, so the very next day I get off, I will be doing something new such as exploring the Barbican, or going to the British Postal Museum & Archive, the Museum of London or the V&A Museum of Childhood.

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

The London Grill: N. Quentin Woolf

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.

N-Quentin-Woolf

[N] Quentin Woolf is a novelist and broadcaster. His short stories have appeared in publications internationally and online, in exhibitions and as part of stage performances. A passionate advocate of the benefits of peer critique, NQW has hosted Writers’ Mutual, a popular collaborative critique group for writers, for a number of years; he also runs The Writers’ Lab in East London. Having formerly presented The Arts Show for radio, NQW is now the anchor of Londonist Out Loud, a weekly podcast focusing on news, arts and history in London, UK, as well as the literary podcast The Wireless Reader. He has also appeared on BBC Radio 4. His novel, The Death of the Poet, is published by Serpent’s Tail.

DeathofthePoet_thumb.jpgWhat’s your secret London tip?
London rewards the curious. Do something you’ve never done, every day. Look down an alleyway, visit a weird museum, check out a tiny park, speak to a stranger, go to that tube stop you’ve never been to. If you’re seeing the same people and the same streets every day, you’re missing the point. Explore! The city evolves constantly – you’ll never run out of new experiences.

What’s your secret London place?
Not a lot of people know this, but there’s this one place where they’ve got all these life-size models of celebrities, made out of wax. Keep it to yourself.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
People who treat bus drivers like crap. I could never be a bus driver. I’d drive up and down the same route for about a day-and-a-half, maybe less, and then I’d feel absolutely compelled to turn left instead of right, or take a detour, or something – anything – to alleviate the monotony. Hats off to anyone who is able to stick that. These guys (of all genders) have to be patient and professional in the face of all sorts of obnoxiousness from within and without, and, yes, I know there are a few duff ‘uns, but for the most part they are unassuming, patient, reliable and uncomplaining. Some even smile. And when they don’t pick you up outside of a bus-stop, or when the bus is full, it’s because that’s how buses work. A good bus driver is good precisely through resisting acts of spontaneity. Go easy on the driver. If we are blessed with anything in London, it’s the certainty that there will be another bus along in a minute.

What’s your favourite building?
London Bridge – the old one, long gone, with the buildings on it. Heads on spikes at the gatehouse at one end, dire traffic jams in the narrow passage between the shops and houses, the odd pedestrian being blown into the Thames when the wind got up. Not to mention the fire hazard. What’s not to like?

What’s your most hated building?
The Barbican terrifies me. It’s not a complex, it’s a dystopia.

What’s the best view in London?
I did a show with London’s Air Ambulance, and up we went, and London from 1000 feet is something to behold. The only other thing in the same space is the Shard; everything else is laid out with Toytown neatness, with a river made of tin foil snaking through it. The Tower looks like a cake decoration; Tower Bridge like a Crazy Golf shot. And, even from that height, the Barbican still looks like it might suck out your soul.

What’s your personal London landmark?
That very high bridge near Highgate village. Always makes my knees go funny.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Film: 28 Days Later (2002). The knowledge that those spooky scenes of deserted London streets were done without SFX (they were simply shot during quiet moments) blows my mind. Book: a toss-up between Mrs Dalloway (1925), with the leaden circles of sound emanating from Big Ben and dissolving in the air, and Bleak House (1853), with that image of a megalosaurus waddling up Holborn Hill. Documentary: The Dalek Invasion Of Earth (1964), which details how London will meet its end, in 2164.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
Starbucks. It doesn’t fall exactly into any of the above categories, but it does understand that the early 21st Century Londoner requires the ability to a) leach electricity and b) connect to wifi while c) injecting caffeine into their eyeballs. Put Starbucks in charge of the electric car scheme, and we’d have a pollution-free city (and the shakes). Screw it – the chippy in Victoria Park Village. Heart disease never tasted so good.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
In the morning I would locate some squirrels, and attempt to feed them. Within seconds, every pigeon, gull, goose, urban fox and royal swan within half a mile would descend upon me, tearing the food from my hand, the hair from my head, stealing my trousers and leaving me to flee for my life.

Shortly afterwards, bleeding profusely, I would present myself to one of our friendly accident and emergency wards, where a sympathetic administrator would greet me by name and ask whether I’d been feeding the squirrels again.

In the evening, I’d write. I am working on a novel, and there’s nothing better than shoving off to a pub with wood chairs and an open fire, setting down a few paragraphs, growing dozy, nodding off and catching alight.

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

The London Grill: Alf Townsend

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.

Alf Townsend

[A]lf Townsend, a London Cabbie for 50 years. A founder member of HALT, the cabbies co-operative at Heathrow, later the Chairman, and Editor for some six years of The HALT Magazine. A well-known trade journalist for the past 45 years and author of six published titles. Winner of The Taxi-Driver of the Year Competition in 1979, followed by many appearances on TV. A popular lunch-time speaker at the American Women’s Clubs in Greater London, where I try and spread the gospel of London taxis and their longevity! One of the first to join The LTDA in the sixties and still an active member.

What’s your secret London tip?
Stay along the river for most of your runs if you can.

What’s your secret London place?
Highgate Cemetery where our eldest daughter Jenny and her son Sam, lay at rest.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
All The PCN’s dished out to us cabbies while the bikers get away with murder!

What’s your favourite building?
Oak Tree House Hampstead – where I live!

What’s your most hated building?
The Gherkin – ugh!

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

What’s your personal London landmark?
The Old Curiosity Shop in Portugal Street – just off of Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
My book The London Cabbie tells everything about London that tourists should know!

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The Garden Gate, South End Green,

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
A trip on the boat from Westminster Pier to Greenwich.

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