Tag Archives: The Birdcage

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My London… with Rupert Cross

For me, if I like someone I mock them. It’s perhaps not a great trait, but growing up with two older brothers has meant that it’s the way I communicate my friendship. If I feel comfortable around someone and like them, I will tease them and joke around with them.

When I first met Rupert he was wearing heavy-framed glasses, which were without lenses. Like a red rag to a bull (I’m the bull in this scenario), right away I started mocking him, and there started our friendship of me cruelly taunting him and him being generous enough to laugh along (and maybe cry himself to sleep at night). As a firm part of my north London circle, no pub visit is complete without Rupert blustering in an hour late, shouting “Darling! How are you?” while wearing some chunky knitwear.

Here Rupert, ever-tolerant and entertaining, talks football pubs, his karaoke track of choice and trying to illegally board a train bound for Paris…

Name: Rupert Cross
Job: Composer
Neighbourhood: Holloway

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I love London because… it’s a  giant smörgåsbord of everything from architecture to the arts.
London is at its best when… nippy springtime gives way to full blown barbecue summer. The mood of London is epitomised by the 10 people opposite you on the tube, and in summer they look like they may just make eye contact and smile. You can almost forgive the guy wearing his shiny new Ray-Ban sunglasses underground – although seriously: never be that guy.
The Swimmer on Eburne Road
The Swimmer on Eburne Road

My ideal day off in London would be… a Saturday. I dream of this perfect day of waking up not too hungover, opening the windows to sunshine before writing music throughout the morning. Content with a hard day’s work by midday, I head to lunch at the Swimmer at The Grafton Arms pub in Holloway, where Laila and Jon [the staff] greet me and my friends like the opening from Cheers. Sitting outside drinking pints of Brugse Zot, my friends and I discuss where to watch the afternoon’s football – a debate utterly irrelevant as The Tollington Arms on Hornsey Road is excellent and we’ll be going here. As this is a fantasy day, we watch Manchester United not lose horribly and all my Arsenal supporting friends break down in tears, admitting they have been closet Reds all along.

The evening will end with karaoke, probably in the Birdcage in Columbia Road, so the post football journey is all about the most exotic and exciting route to take. Along that route is The Lamb on Holloway Road which has an excellent selection of local beers and the staff are impeccably friendly. By 9pm I’m panicking that it’s getting late and I need to submit my karaoke song choice so we all cab it to Shoreditch. I’m in luck – they always have space for R Kelly’s “Ignition” (Remix).
In this perfect day I probably have a dog, and his name is Marco Fu.

I absolutely love this little-known place… called Shoreditch. I think it’ll catch on.

The best night I’ve ever had in London was… one that ended at 8am at St Pancras International pleading with the ticket office to let us on a train to Paris without our passports. At the time I imagined it looking more Withnail and I than Fear and Loathing. Now I’m not too sure.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
L’atelier de Joel Robuchon
My favourite restaurant is… L’atelier de Joel Robuchon in town. I had never eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant before and a deal had arisen on Toptable for this restaurant. Although it was clear to everyone there that our wine-less, shared starter, shared desert, 2-for-1 mains order was designed to absolutely minimise the overall cost of eating at the restaurant, the staff were kind and courteous throughout which left me with a strong desire to return.
If I had £2000 to blow, I’d spend it all in… Borough Market, and if I’m honest, two thirds of that will be on cheese. Anything left over will be spent in Bang Bang, a vintage clothes shop in Soho where I can safely say that pretty much all of my clothes are purchased from. Not underwear, that would be weird.
My favourite museum/gallery/theatre is… Oval House theatre in Oval. They very kindly gave me one of my first breaks in theatre, and the team that run it work incredibly hard providing opportunities for youth in South London.
The Hoxley & Porter on Upper Street
The Hoxley & Porter on Upper Street

One thing I didn’t know about London until I lived here is… the best espresso martini is made at The Hoxley & Porter in Upper Street.

London is great, but one thing that really annoys me is… when bus drivers don’t wave to each other when they pass one another. There is no excuse for this.

I’ll leave London when… I’ve had the perfect day mentioned above, but luckily my non-Manchester United-supporting friends are so entrenched in denial that this could take years.

You can follow Rupert on Twitter at @Rupertx

My London… with Lucy C

The Birdcage, St John's Hill
Here Lucy gives an “outsider’s” perspective on London. Lucy moved here from New Zealand a few years ago. I had the good fortune to live with Lucy for several years when she first arrived. She uses her time in the UK effectively, and has seen so many things and acquired so many funny stories. She’s the kind of person who talks to strangers and ends up becoming BFFs with them…
Name Lucy
Job Senior Account Exec, salt PR
Neighbourhood North London up until my recent migration to live with the rest of Antipodeans in South West London.
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I live in London because… it’s so alive, there’s always something going on – whether it be the crazy guy blessing me on the tube, the pug with the extra long tongue in Soho Square trying to lick my shoes, or an amazing show where I get to see Helen Mirren up close. I love that this place never sleeps.

 

Lucy loves London parks in Summer. This is Highbury Fields in Islington, near where we used to live together.
Lucy loves London parks in Summer. This is Highbury Fields in Islington, near where we used to live together.
London is at its best when… it’s the summertime and you’re at one of the many green parks it has to offer. I love how Londoners make the most of parks; out comes the coal BBQ, the picnic rug, the football, the many different cider varieties and you get to lounge in the sun with your mates, who are likely to be from anywhere but London originally.

 

The Birdcage, St John's Hill
The Birdcage, St John’s Hill

 

My ideal day off in London would be… breakfast at The Birdcage on St John’s Hill, the morning absorbing one of the new exhibitions at one of the many museums, afternoon in the sun at Battersea Park then dinner at some novelty restaurant where you eat your steak blindfolded or something.I absolutely love this little-known place… Molly Moggs in Soho: it’s a tiny corner bar featuring a sharp-tongued, self-deprecating and hilarious drag queen host every night of the week who pokes fun at the crowd and introduces various karaoke acts, which include a few quirky regulars (I’ve had the privilege of being serenaded by the elderly Elvis – hand holding included). It is the ultimate pick me up place – you’re always guaranteed a laugh and it’s always a supportive crowd… no matter how screechy the singing.

The best night I ever had in London was… hard to pick – but one from most recent memory was going to the special effects-packed Muse gig at Emirates where an acrobat did ribbon work from a giant hot air balloon in the shape of a lightbulb. Afterwards we spent the evening exploring some great little bars along Upper Street in Angel, topping off the night singing my lungs out with friends at Lucky Voice karaoke – all within walking distance, which made it that much better.

My favourite restaurant is… Trullo in Highbury, Islington – this place has amazing atmosphere, service and even better food. The chefs travel to Italy each season to handpick which ingredients they are going to source for the menu. It’s even been voted best Italian restaurant outside of Italy!

Trullo, Highbury
Trullo, Highbury
If I had £2000 to blow, I’d spend it all in... probably a cheaty answer, but Selfridges. I love going there (once I get past the incredible window displays) and looking at all the amazing designer stuff or handcrafted potions and lotions.
Lucy loves browsing Selfridges
Lucy loves browsing Selfridges
My favourite museum/gallery/theatre is… the National Portrait Gallery. I go to the BP Portrait Awards Exhibition every year and it never ceases to astonish me how talented people are – many of them younger than me (which I find depressing; I’ve well and truly passed the prodigal talent age). They capture people so beautifully and differently. The other exhibitions at the Portrait Gallery change around regularly, too, and are generally free. If you’re lucky you might spot the sleeping video of David Beckham by Sam Taylor-Wood (apparently celebs do sleep?!) or the artist who drains a few pints of his blood every few years to make a floating sculpture of his head…
Becks taking 40 winks at the National Portrait Gallery.
Becks taking 40 winks at the National Portrait Gallery.
One thing I didn’t know about London until I moved here is… how safe it is. I honestly feel pretty safe walking around at night by myself and I swear that’s not naivety, as I used to get scared when I first moved here, but learnt through experience it was actually fine. There are so many well-lit areas, and because there are always so many people around you do feel safer than I ever expected.

London is great, but one thing that really annoys me is… how dirty the air is. Black snot is gross.
Lucy outside our old house in Highbury in the snow. Best. Day. Ever.
Lucy outside our old house in Highbury in the snow. Best. Day. Ever.
I’ll leave London when... I want more peace and quiet and the tug of friends and family back home gets too much.
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