We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.
David Fathers, born in the north-east of England, moved straight to London once he’d finished his formal education. Having worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and web project manager, he’s gone onto write and illustrate a trilogy of guide books on the waterways of London. These include The Regent’s Canal, The London Thames Path and finally London’s Hidden Rivers (published June 2017).
What’s your secret London tip?
Sorry, taxi drivers won’t like this: walk everywhere.
What’s your secret London place?
By the Thames Barrier when it’s closed. I swear you can feel the pressure of the water being held back. As the gates slowly open the seagulls gather and swoop for the fish being churned up in the eddies and currents. Google ‘Thames Barrier’ to find out when the next test closing is due (usually one per month).
What’s your biggest gripe about London?
House prices! Though I am lucky enough to have bought a house in London before prices went stratospheric, my daughters almost certainly won’t be able to buy anything in the capital. Allowing people to buy property and leave them empty, as an investment, is bordering on obscene.
What’s your favourite building?
St Pancras Station is probably one of the finest railway stations in the world. Designed in the Victorian Gothic Revival style by George Gilbert Scott, it opened in 1869. And it was saved from demolition one hundred years later. It went onto become the London terminal for the Eurostar. However, once it is completed, my favourite building will be the new Spurs stadium.
What’s your most hated building?
Following on from the last answer I guess I could say the Emirate Stadium, but won’t. So, Euston station – a nasty hangover from the 1960s.
What’s the best view in London?
Down by the foreshore of the Thames when the tide goes out. The views from the water’s edge give a different perspective to the capital.
What’s your personal London landmark?
The ubiquitous Shard. It’s visible all over town and beyond and is great for getting your bearings. I love the way it looks different depending on the time of day and the type of light striking it. I hope it never gets surrounded by other tall buildings.
What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Thames Triumph by Sydney R Jones. Published in 1943, it’s really a piece of wartime propaganda glorifying the marvels of the capital. Jones both writes and illustrates the book. In it, he recalls one incident when he and a friend decide to explore Limehouse just before the war. Such was the reputation of the area they went tooled-up with a revolver and a cosh.
What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The Southampton Arms, Highgate Road. Kentish Town. If it wasn’t for the electric lighting (and lack of cigarette smoke) you could be mistaken into thinking you’ve time-travelled back to a pub from the turn of the twentieth century. Hand pumped independent beers and ciders, payments in cash, no wi-fi, no credit card tabs and a piano for musical entertainment. The food is usually roasts chopped up to make large sandwiches. I wish I lived nearer.
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Walking, camera and sketch book in hand, exploring a ‘new’ part of London.