Listen to a Londoner. This is a weekly post where people who live (or have lived for a while) in London answer a few questions about the Big Smoke. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. Always looking for new victims volunteers….
Lucy McDonald, 25
(Usually, it’s 10 questions, but Lucy likes questions, so she answered 30. Bonus.)
Lucy is from the most rural county in England but her soul is a Londoner. She likes tea, merry-go-rounds, walking along the Thames, lists, the radio, food and getting dressed several times a day. She works as an admin monkey at a language school in Bloomsbury.
LLO: How long have you lived in London?
LM: I accidentally say I’ve lived here for five years, despite the fact a year of that was spent in Mexico. Actually I similarly used to answer ‘?Donde vives?’ in Mexico with ‘Londres’ for an irrationally long number of months. I’ve known I wanted to live here since I was eleven.
LLO: Where are you from originally?
LM: The shire, the middle of nowhere, where England meets Wales, the green and pleasant and beautiful land, the most rural county in England – Herefordshire.
LLO: Best thing about London?
LM: It’s still possible for me to get excited about the little things – being able to jump on the tube and end up in a place that looks and feels completely different to the one I’m in now, popping and seeing the Houses of Parliament and all the sites tourists come to see. The many and glorious parks, the way people dress, the interests people have – a general and indescribable Londonness that is strongest I think at Sunday brunch time, when Saturday revellers are in recovering in cafes, wandering the streets and dressed in their most interesting togs.
LLO: Worst thing about London?
LM: Being ground down by the insularity and commuting. The fact that travelling from one side to another – east to west, north to south – seems like an epic challenge worthy of Tolkein. Light pollution and other grubbiness. The 25 bus, expense, Victoria Coach Station. Being from elsewhere in England, it can be irritating that people from the South East don’t believe in any realistic sense that the rest of the country exists. Most bad things in London are the same in the big metropolitan cities and the mindset that puts you in. The best-worst thing about it, London is a difficult place to leave.
LLO: North, south, east or west?
LM: East. No question.
LLO: Best restaurant?
LLO: Best shop?
LM: Atlantis Art Materials, Hanbury Street. I like to peer in the windows of the rope shop and the umbrella shop in Bloomsbury, and Blade Rubber Stamps.
LLO: Best place to escape the city?
LM: Hampstead Heath or the top of Senate House Library, depending if you need glorious openness or protective dusty rooms and books.
LLO: 2012 Olympics – stay or go?
LM: I don’t know and can’t decide. Is that significant?
LLO: How do you spend your time on the tube?
LM: Reading. If I can find another participant I like playing tube chicken, empty tube platforms allowing.
LLO: Most random thing you’ve seen in London.
LM: Somebody stopping to help a stranger – tee hee – gallows humour.
LLO: Best place to catch a gig?
LM: The Union Chapel, Islington
LLO: Best local band?
LM: The Correspondents
LLO: Favourite book, song or film about London?
LM: 1599 by James Shapiro.
LLO: Favourite London discovery?
LM: Signing up to go and see free recordings of radio and TV programmes, Sam Smiths Pubs and the many retro nights.
LLO: Best place to spend a Sunday afternoon?
LM: Ah, I’m too predictable – Brick Lane.
LLO: Best museum or gallery?
LM: Tate Modern during the week, otherwise The Museum of Childhood. It’s not my favourite, but if you haven’t been you should go to The John Soane Museum. I like to sit in the big leather chairs in the National Gallery to read.
LLO: Favourite market?
LM: Predictability reigns, Brick Lane Sunday – the Upmarket, Spitalfields and everyone along the edge of the lane.
LLO: Give us a funny London story.
LM: I’ll cheat and copy and paste from previous writing –
Waiting on the platform at Leicester Square for the train to come, and a drunken suit, pink shirt, grabs my hand and begins to twirl me around the platform, asks what my dance would be, if I could dance any, here on the platform, between the yellow line and the commuters and the couples. I decline. He presses my hand to his heart and asks my name. I guess his instead. It’s not Charles and it’s not Jim. He takes my hand, asks my name, asks if I’ve seen the most recent exhibition at the British Museum. He tells me the last exhibition was a disappointment. Not enough artefacts. Central London has a different class of drunk.
LLO: Most influential Londoner?
LM: Can’t think of one person.
LLO: Best London magazine, newspaper or website?
LM: C’mon – the national British media is solely a London set of magazines and newspapers – so the Observer on Sunday.
LLO: If you were to dress up as one of the tube station names for a costume party, which would you be?
LM: High Barnet. My hair loves a good backcomb.
LLO: Best time of year in London?
LM: Impossible question – Autumn on Hampstead Heath, Christmas in Covent Garden, Summer in Russell Square.
LLO: Best place for a first date?
LM: Dates? In London? Don’t people just get drunk and fall on each other inappropriately?
LLO: First place to take a visitor?
LM: To St Pauls, across the wobbly bridge, to South bank and along to the London Eye. Or a trip to The Globe.
LLO: Favourite place to be on a Saturday night?
LM: The George Tavern, Commercial Road. And as far as possible from Leicester Square.
LLO: Best and worst things about tourists?
LM: Worst thing – they get in the way and behave as if the place you live has been placed there for their own enjoyment, loud voices, big bags and not getting out of the way on the tube. Best thing – they talk loudly and think they can’t be understood so always good for an eavesdrop.
LLO: Boris is…
LM: …a muppet.
LLO: What would you change about the city if you had the power to do so?
LM: Not sure – I want to say make it smaller and cleaner and cheaper, but it wouldn’t be London anymore. I would take the violence out of it, and (sorry for the nod to Boris) I do hate the bendy buses.
LLO: Most interesting recent news story.
LM: Anything told to me by John Humphrys as I drink my first cup of tea in the morning.
For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.