We’ve got the indomitable Matt, editor of London’s biblically revered Londonist, in the hot seat today and we’ve decided to turn up the heat on our weekly London Grilling.
‘Utterly obsessed with the capital’, prepare for a city journey via pubs, secret hangouts and the odd stray nipple, as we chat to Matt about everything London and find out a little bit more about its leading blog.
What are the weirdest and wackiest things you’ve ever seen or covered at Londonist? We’re sure there’s plenty to choose from!
Oh god, yes. We’ve published something like 25,000 articles, so there’s a swollen bounty of oddness to choose from. How about the Top 10 Rudest Museum Exhibits in London or the related How Many Nipples Are There In The National Gallery?
The past two weeks have been incredible on an Olympic scale! What have been your favourite aspects of the Games in London?
The huge and unprecedented amounts of optimism in the city have been a joy to behold. For two weeks, negative snipey voices went away and everyone just enjoyed themselves. Against most expectations, the spectacle passed without any serious problems and with heaps of joy.
We love Londonist’s Top 10 feature; if you had to choose, what is your favourite London:
A place called Brookes Market that nobody knows about. It’s in a network of alleys between Holborn and Leather Lane. There’s nothing particularly remarkable or historic about it, and the architecture’s a complete mish-mash…just that it’s so secluded and peaceful.
Ha, well, may I refer you to my top 10, printed in the Guardian recently?
Of those, I’m going to nominate The Heights…more of a bar. But it’s on the 15th floor of a little known hotel, right beside the BBC. So you get great views, minor celebrities and absolutely nobody else, all wrapped in outmoded 80s decor. Truly remarkable.
The streets themselves. I find it hard to get an emotional reaction from art in galleries (unless I’m counting nipples, of course…vide supra). But walk around Shoreditch or Hackney and you’ll see some of the most inventive and impressive art in London, for free. You never know when and where stuff will appear, and work often plays on its immediate surroundings, which is rarely done in a gallery.
St Brides on Fleet Street. That remarkable tower was lucky to survive the war. Inside, you’ll find any number of wonders, from the Roman pavement and buckets-full of skeletons in the crypt, to a shrine dedicated to kidnapped journalists. If it ever gets built, The Pinnacle skyscraper will be my new favourite. Have you seen the renders? A rare example of a skyscraper with beauty.
Does street food count? If so, I’m regularly down at Whitecross Street Market for my lunch…working my way through the 30+ stores. Eat.St is even better, but further from where I work. In terms of pop-up galleries/shops, etc. they’re too ephemeral to build up a favourite. I just enjoy randomly stumbling across such things and dipping in.
My ‘home’ station of Chalk Farm. It has one of the best examples of a Leslie Green façade…you know the ones…glazed red or green tiles. Inside, you can tell who’s local and who’s just here to see someone play the Roundhouse. Able-bodied locals always take the stairs, which are much faster than waiting for the lifts.
President of the Olympic committee, Jacques Rogge recently described London ‘as the heartbeat of the world’ – how would you describe this city?
I’ve spent eight years and several million words describing this city, so distilling it into a Rogge-like soundbite isn’t easy…but I’d say London is whatever you want it to be. It’s late in the day, and I’m feeling mischievous, so how about we call it the Spleen of the World and let readers try and put meaning to the phrase?
If London was a creature – how do you think it would look?!
Thank you to Matt for a wonderful interview – if you’ve got any questions or feedback, we’d love to hear it so get in touch.