Today we’re excited to be showcasing something new on London Living, which will be a relatively regular feature from now on.
‘London Grilling’ is a short set of questions (five to be exact) that we will be posing to some of our favourite Londoners over the coming weeks and months.
Like London Living as a whole, the idea is not to impose our views on you – but to foreground those of the most interesting and diverse London voices out there. A quickfire five, the questions are simple: but the answers promise to deliver real insight into London from some of the people who know the city best.
Taking the hot seat for the first ever Grilling is Mandy from emm in london. From hidden churchyards to acts of kindness, the Square Mile to the city’s rooftops, Mandy provides us with a personal, extensive and affectionate view of London:Take it away, Mandy…
1. What’s your secret London tip?
‘Always look up! Come rain, sleet, snow or sunshine, it seems that as Londoners, our favourite posture is to huddle within our coats and look down at the ground. My secret London tip is to always look up; you have no idea what secret gem of London history you might discover!’
2. What’s your secret London place?
‘A short way down Borough High Street, five minutes from the market, you’ll find the church of St George the Martyr Southwark. Borough High Street (and the Borough) ended at this point in the Middle Ages but it is especially famous as it was attended by Charles Dickens. My secret place is just across the walkway from the church, in St George’s Churchyard Gardens. On the far side of the garden stands a wall which once formed part of the prison wall of Marshalsea Prison. Marshalsea was a debtor’s prison and Charles Dickens’s father was imprisoned here in 1824, providing Dickens with the inspiration for Little Dorrit.’
3. What’s your biggest gripe about London?
‘Londoners don’t talk to each other! We ignore each other on the train, in public places, at work. I remember phoning my husband during a snow storm once, telling him that my train was terminating about 5 stops early and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get home. I was absolutely surprised when I got off the phone and a couple of people gave me advice as to how best to proceed. It was remarkable because it stands out as the only time Londoners have broken their vow of silence and reached out. It is not a gripe, I just think Londoners would be very surprised at how rewarding it can be when you strike up a conversation with a stranger.’
4. What advice would you give to someone moving to London?
‘Don’t give in to isolation. Attend meetups, start a blog, meet like-minded people. And if you meet a couple of people you don’t like, keep going until you meet some you do like. Never let the loneliness get to you. And if it gets especially bad? Give me a call – I am always willing to meet up for lunch or coffee.’
5. What would you choose to do in London if you had more space and time?
‘I made London a priority last year and dedicate a lot of time to exploring and enjoying this wonderful city. This year I definitely hope to spend more time in museums, art galleries and exhibitions but I am also keen on exploring much more of the Square Mile.’
Our thanks go to Mandy for offering these thoughts and for setting the bar high as we look towards our next London Grilling with another Londoner. If you would like to take part, please let us know in the comments section or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
And in the meantime, follow Mandy’s advice and keep looking up…