“London is an epic story, with glorious locations that make your heart race and your head think. And, like all the best stories, it has wonderful characters”. These are the words of Conrad Gamble, the author of the recently published For The Love of London. What Gamble has done is to create a collaborative love letter, an ode to the city, written by the people who make it great.
The book contains vignettes and anecdotes, the type that you come across while having a coffee with a stranger, or while sitting at a bus stop. Each person reveals what most captivates them about London, which aspect they most romanticise. What becomes apparent in reading the book is that the things people love about London are as diverse as the people living there.
The underground club culture, Soho clubs, Battersea Park at dusk, Shoreditch, London street art, Harrods food hall, the pigeons, a 24-hour laundrette and our own Creative Director, Jo Phillips’ first coffee in London. These are just some of the things people love.
The people who tell these stories include Sir Paul Smith, Stephen Fry, an art curator, a Camberwell gent, the head of Global Street Art, a culinary maestro, a burlesque starlet, an actor, a poet, a comic book writer, a builder, a yoga teacher, a DJ, a clown and London’s most senior firefighter.
Conrad Gamble is a London writer and performance poet. He has been commissioned to write poetry for ‘The Book of Everyone’ and ‘Suitcase Magazine’ among other things. He has performed at Secret Cinema and curates a monthly poetry night, named ‘Ear Smoke’ in Hackney.
We’ve picked some stories to give you a taste.
Writer, performer and poet, Knapp writes a poem about her favourite place in London – the 24-hour laundrette. Her thoughtful and evocative story of the Laundrette evokes memories of black and white film, lonely London and Martin Scorsese’s ‘After Hours’. Watch Knapp performing the poem here.
Writer, broadcaster and Director of the Design Museum Deyan Sudjic writes about his morning walk through the sublime Regent’s Park. Walking through the park on a Summer morning lets us contemplate the moment quietly in the midst of the grand city.
Lead singer of The Selecter, actress and author Pauline Black chooses The Foundling Museum. The Fondling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital – the UK’s first children’s charity. She tells how it pulls at the heartstrings, asking how any child could be resigned to such a life. The Tracy Emin sculpture of a pink mitten on the railing outside the museum illustrates a perfect metaphor for loss. It’s a museum that serves to remind us of the importance of compassion.
All photographs by Andy Donohoe