Listen to a Londoner: Mohammed A.

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 Always looking for new victims volunteers….

Mohammed AMohammed A., 30

Mohammed is working on finishing the editing of his debut novel, hastily recording a home-made album and trying to preach that sun avoidance is actually bad for you (but don’t get him into that or he won’t stop…)

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
I was born here, so all my 30 years.

LLO: Where are you (or your family) from originally if not London?
My parents are from Pakistan. And I went there (to Lahore and Islamabad) for the first time ever in early October.

LLO: Best thing about London?
Has to be the diversity.

LLO: Worst thing about London?
People being too self-absorbed.

LLO:  North, south, east or west?

LLO: Best restaurant?
Gifto’s Lahore Karahi in Southall.

LLO: Best shop?
I have had a fondness since childhood for the now gone Woolworths, especially my local one.

LLO:  Best place to escape the city?
Primrose Hill…You don’t quite escape it, you just appreciate it from the outside.

LLO: 2012 Olympics – stay or go?
I wasn’t fond of us hosting it, but I am now interested to see all the pomp we’ll get.

LLO:  How do you spend your time on the tube?
Looking at my own reflection on the glass…There are better faces to see, but my own saves me from looking into others’ eyes (I suffer from ‘eyes down syndrome’ like most).

LLO: Most random thing you’ve seen in London.
On Golborne Road there’s a series of pictures along a wall, of a life-sized doll laying on top of said wall and people looking up at it. Some sort of art experiment.

LLO: Best place to catch a gig?
Shepherd’s Bush Empire, just for the intimacy.

LLO: Best local band?
That surely has to be my own, though we won’t be gigging for quite a while yet (shameless plug:

LLO: Favourite book, song or film about London?
The song ‘Forces Of Viktry’ on Linton Kwesi Johnson’s ‘Forces Of Victory’ album (a great one). It documents the Notting Hill Carnival. LKJ in general is an essential Londoner, a great poet.

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
Hampton Court Palace. I thought it would be boring, but it was ace and the staff are really friendly and interactive in a non-patronising way. My ex-girlfriend made me go.

LLO: Best place to spend a Sunday afternoon?
If it’s sunny, Holland Park is good to lounge around in.

LLO: Best museum or gallery?
Natural History Museum.

LLO: Favourite market?

LLO: Most influential Londoner?
Michael Caine. For two reasons: Not only is he one of the finest British actors ever, his recent speech about alienated youth turning to crime in regards to his latest film Harry Brown was spot on.

LLO: Best London magazine, newspaper or website?
Transport for London’s (; sums up London, image-wise, the best.

LLO: If you were to dress up as one of the tube station names for a costume party, which would you be?
Bank…Although in the current economic climate, maybe not such a good idea.

LLO: Best time of year in London?
Autumn. Can’t beat the sight of fallen bronze leaves.

LLO: Best place for a first date?
Oxford Circus at night once the Xmas lights are on. Loads of nice places to eat, and when you’re tongue tied you can suggest she looks in the shops.

LLO: First place to take a visitor?
The London Eye seems the accepted cliche now.

LLO: Favourite place to be on a Saturday night?
Catching a film at the Electric Cinema.

LLO: Best and worst things about tourists?
Flattering most seem to ask me for directions in a big crowd, but am irritated at how slow they walk when I’m just trying to get my groceries home.

LLO: Boris is……
 … a good London mascot, as was Ken. I truly think the mayoral role in London is just about being a sort of teddy bear figure.

Thanks Mo!

Number One Name: Mohammed

Last week, it was revealed by the Office of National Statistics that  Mohammed is now the most popular boys’ name in London, and a few other British cities. Considering its significance in Islam and the fact that the Muslim population is rising 10 times faster than the rest of the population, it’s not surprising.

It’s refreshing, I have to say, coming from a small American city so white (97.86%)  it was historically known as a “sundown town“. There’s not much religious data available, but the few pages I did find listed it as “0.02% are an eastern faith; 0.00% affilitates with Islam.” 

Being in a city like London where you can walk out your door to so many different languages being spoken, having a choice of Nepalese or Pakistani or Spanish or Moroccan restaurants within a few minutes walk of one another, seeing differences in people’s faces, lifestyles, cultures, faiths, etc, is one of the most incredible experiences. It opens your eyes to so many possibilities and life choices.