If I were in London right now, I’d love to see London through the eyes of Londoners*. And so, I interview them. Jonnie Fielding, who’s behind Bowl of Chalk guided tours, my latest target.
How long have you been living in London?
I’ve been living in London for just over 13 years now.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to London?
I’m originally from a place called Rugby, a small town in the Midlands and like a lot of people, had been given misinformation, and came to London with the misguided belief that the streets were paved with gold.
I get around London…:
a) … with my eyes closed – I really know every alley…
b) … still carrying my A-Z guide with me where-ever I go.
c) … in a cab.
d) Other: …
d) Other … Mainly by bike, or on foot. In case of severe emergencies, I take public transport.
What are things you’ve never done in London that are high on your to-do-list?
There are loads, but probably take the time to visit some of the smaller museums like The Cuming Museum in Southwark, Keats House in Hampstead and places like that. I’d also like to go underground and explore some old sewers or tunnels.
Your latest London-discovery (shop/restaurant/museum/whatever) everyone should know of/go to:
I heard they recently built some kind of Olympic Park / Stadium which sounds quite intriguing.
Imagine, you feel like getting tired of London: what place/area/sight will always convince you otherwise and why?
Quite often, it’s when I’m cycling over London Bridge or Waterloo Bridge at night, and just look around, across the Thames at the water, the buildings, skyline and twinkling lights.
If you could change one thing about London, it would be…
The people on the night bus (which I obviously try to avoid).
Apart from “home” what place in London is best to charge your battery?
Until last week it was my local pub, The George near London Fields, but I’ve just moved, so it’s not my local anymore.
When is London most beautiful?
Early morning, but I’m a sucker for cold, dark, misty autumnal evenings.
Where can you get the best view of London?
If you’re not claustrophobic and hate lots of stairs but have a spare £3 then The Monument is pretty good, plus you get a certificate on the way down. Alternatively, One New Change (shopping centre) next to St Paul’s gives you a good view if you take the lift to the 6th floor. If you prefer a view whilst sipping an overpriced cocktail, then the champagne bar, Vertigo 42 at the top of Tower 42 in the City gives you amazing views across London.
Cycling in London is…:
… a great way of guaranteeing you get a seat on the way to work or wherever you’re going.
What, according to you, is the best song / poem ever written about London and why?
Not sure. ‘London’s Burning’ perhaps … the kids nursery rhyme.
The most interesting /funny / bizar fact about London you wanna share…:
Oh … I don’t know. There’s loads.
Thanks for your time and tips, Jonnie!
The words of London’s Burning are as follows:
London’s burning, London’s burning.
Fetch the engines, fetch the engines.
Fire fire, Fire Fire!
Pour on water, pour on water
For loads of interesting/funny / bizar facts about London, I can advise you all to go for a walk with Jonnie.
* Londoner – a person either born and bred in London, or living in London for a significant number of years.
All questions © Tess van der Staal, Amsterdam 2012