Listen to a Londoner: Ham

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….

HamHam, 53

Ham started London Daily Photo with the idea that showing a reasonable photo and possibly interesting words about London added to the sum total of Good Stuff about. Four years later and he is still enjoying it, still struggling to fit it in with a job in the real world.

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
All the living years, give or take a few years as a student. Best time was when I lived off Oxford Street.

LLO: Where are you (or your family) from originally if not London?
Parents Londoners. Grandparents on one side Dutch, on the other London & Poland. Purebred London mongrel.

LLO: Best thing about London?
The people

LLO: Worst thing about London?
The people. Oh come on, that’s too trite. The best thing about London is the way it repays you for the effort that you put into it – there is so much to find, do, be, that the only limits are your own. The worst is the impersonal front that can seem almost impermeable to some, they get chewed up and spat out.

LLO: North, south, east or west?

LLO: Best restaurant?
Hard to differentiate at the top end, so I’ll stick with the other end. Fryers Delight – a chippie in Theobalds Road.

LLO: Best shop?
Stanfords map shop. Not seen anything like it in any other city.

LLO: Best place to escape the city?
So many places, so little time. But if I’m looking for the antithesis of London in easiest reach, the Suffolk coast.

LLO: 2012 Olympics – stay or go?
Crazy? Stay. I’m going to camp in my garden, rent the house, cycle the 10 minutes to the Games

LLO: How do you spend your time on the tube?
On the rare occasions I’m on it, I spend my time wishing I was on my bike.

LLO: Most random thing you’ve seen in London?
 That question makes me realise how much we learn to accept everything in London. About 30 years ago I used to visit the laundrette as a 17th century pirate occasionally but that doesn’t count, I suppose. I think a graffiti artist working on one side with a graffiti cleaning team on the other was the most bizarre London thing.

LLO: Best place to catch a gig?
And that question makes me realise how decrepit I’ve become.

LLO: Best local band?
I wonder if there’s a band called the Sanatogens?

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
 The Mulberry tree in Hogarth’s garden, when it is laden with fruit to eat and get VERY messy with.

LLO: Best place to spend a Sunday afternoon?
I’m going to cheat and say late morning – try a Wigmore Hall recital, very civilised.

LLO: Best museum or gallery?
Probably the Horniman Museum, for being so unexpected and wide ranging.

LLO: Favourite market?
Would have been Borough Market before it got too successful for its own good. Now, I think Chapel Market.

LLO: Give us a funny London story.
Knock knock.
    Who’s there?
    M.A.B. Its.
    M.A.B. Its who?
    M.A.B. It’s becawz I’m Lunduner, that I love London so.

LLO: Best London magazine, newspaper or website?
 The Smoke

LLO: If you were to dress up as one of the tube station names for a costume party, which would you be?
Barking. Typecasting.

LLO: Best time of year in London?
Spring. For sure. The city comes to life again. Mind you, autumn is cool, with the Plane trees changing colour and the last gasps of summer. Oh, and the summer is unbeatable with so much going on. And in winter, the city is pared back to its basics. Christmas festivities. Snow to carpet the grey. OK. Pass.

LLO: Best place for a first date?
Meet at Little Ben. River trip to a meal at the Oxo. Night ride on the eye. Down to Ronnie Scott’s to catch some cool Jazz. Coffe at Bar Italia. Walk through the Park.

LLO: First place to take a visitor?
On a circular walk along the Thames from Wesminster to Tower Bridges.

LLO: Favourite place to be on a Saturday night?
Where did I leave that cup of cocoa now?

LLO: Best and worst things about tourists?
They help us appreciate what we have, but htey can get in the way

LLO: Boris is…
…better for London than nothing. Just.

LLO: What would you change about the city if you had the power to do so?
Integrated transport. Proper. Go to Zurich to see how it should work.

Thanks Ham!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Smoke: A London Peculiar

This little 52-page gem is essential reading for anyone in love with London.

For starters, the description on the website is enough to make one  swoon: “… a love-letter to London, to the wet neon flicker of late-night pavements, electric with endless possibility and the soft dishevelled beauty of the city’s dawn… to the overheard stories and unexplored histories, the facts and the fictions, the accidental poetry and fugitive art of graffiti-slashed suburban stations and rain-splashed shopfronts… the out-of-shot lives half-glimpsed from a train window, or from a phone number scrawled on the back of a Travelcard, dropped on the night-bus stairs…”
(I wasn’t going to paste all of that, but I couldn’t bare to chop any out because it’s lovely.)

Editor Matt Haynes and his contributors dip into the pockets of London that are often forgotten and empty them out for us through creative writing and photographs that expose London’s lint as well as its little known treasures. “A London Peculiar” is accurate indeed because this is one of the most unique publications I’ve seen that explore the city so thoroughly in print. It was one of my first London discoveries when I moved here and still one of my favourites. 

Issue 15 is on shelves now.