Dr. Lewis Halsey has lived in or around London for most of his life and works as an academic at the University of Roehampton. Here he talks about the changes he’s noticed in London over the years, what it’s like to cycle to work every day and a different way to view renting before buying if you’re interested in stepping onto the property ladder like he did a few years ago.
LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? Which area of the city is home for you?
LH: I am an academic at the University of Roehampton. I’m a biologist. Southwest London is my stomping ground. I live and work there so that’s where I tend to be.
LLO: Having lived in and around London most of your life, what are some of the ways in which you have seen the city change over the years?
LH: I was born in London and then lived in the Midlands during my late educational years but now I’m back.
Changes? Skyscrapers. More patriotism. More love for the Royal family. More bicycles. Congestion charges. A mayor. We didn’t have a mayor when I was a kid. Better trains. Much higher house prices. More bridges and cable cars. And there wasn’t the DLR when I was a kid either of course.
LLO: You cycle to work every day. Do you feel safe as a cyclist? Where else do you enjoy cycling in London?
LH: I like cycling to work and feel pretty safe because it’s a short journey and most of it’s off the roads. Half of it is through Wimbledon Common which can be a very pretty start to the day if you have good weather like one of those crispy Spring mornings or low lying sun across the open ground. I think Richmond Park is even better. Sometimes I cycle into central London which is quite a big effort for me, quite a bit hair-raising and less picturesque until you get to the Thames. But I’ve survived so far. Just. Famous last words…
LLO: What is the best thing about living in your postcode?
LH: It makes me sound posh or successful.
LLO: How would you spend an ideal Saturday in London from when you wake up to when you go to sleep?
LH: I’d have a slow morning with a good newspaper and my bread machine working in the background. I’d be sat outside in the communal garden area on a bench. Then I’d go for a jog in Wimbledon Common and work up an appetite for a big lunch down in Wimbledon Village. In the afternoon I’d go off into town and visit an exhibition with friends at the Natural History Museum or Tate Modern and have a walk along the South Bank. I’d be picked up in a helicopter from the top of the OXO Tower and then taken on a tour of London where I did the navigating (but not the flying because that would go all wrong). Dinner. Cinema. Nightclub. Come out of the nightclub without the munchies so that I don’t go out and buy a kebab. And then a cab that will take me straight home and jump all the lights.
LLO: You travel outside of London quite a bit for work. Is there anything you miss about the city when you’re away? Anything you’re glad to escape?
LH: I miss the vibrancy and the cosmopolitan feel. You appreciate it in a different way. I miss the options that are available when I have free time to go out and do things. I do like getting away from the intensity and the density of the city.
LLO: Tell us about a Londoner you know who is doing something interesting worth talking about.
LH: I know a girl who is a science communicator. She travels around London and the country doing science gigs in pubs and clubs trying to enlighten people about science through comedy and showmanship.
LLO: Favourite London based athlete? Why?
LH: Frank Lampard because he’s the same age as me.
LLO: You bought a flat a few years ago. Any advice for Londoners looking to get onto the property ladder?
LH: The concept that you’re throwing your money away if you’re renting is a misnomer. If you are able to save while you’re renting, consider that saving to be mortgage repayments on the home you are going to buy. You won’t be paying interest on that part of the mortgage so when you do come to buy a home, your interest payments will be lower. This saving can at least if not more than compensate for the rent you are paying now.
LLO: Best London discovery?
LH: The Monument. It’s very old and the cheapest way to get a great view of the London skyline.
For more about Lewis and his work with Roehampton University, have a look here.
For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.