The Grill — 21 September 2018

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.

LAURENCE STEPHAN was born in 1987. In his early years, he gained skills and experience in all things creative and still has a zeal for writing music, videography and graphics. He obtained degrees in Nutrition, Exercise and Health, and Psychology, while working the nightclub scene; initially as a doorman, and subsequently as a nightclub manager. During his time at university, he rose to the position of Rugby President and then President of Student Sport. It was during this period that he found his passion for creating and organising different events, revolving around games, socialising and competition.

After university, he pursued a career in sales, but after two successful years, he had to leave due to chronic ill health. With an overactive mind and lots of free time, he decided to explore one of the events he ran at university called BucketRace. Initially designed as a 48-hour race throughout Europe, visiting multiple countries in a short space of time, the idea was condensed into a 4-hour race around London, replacing countries with London boroughs.

What’s your secret London tip?
Don’t sync your Spotify with an Uber Taxi and then play orgasm noises all the way home . . . it will significantly lower your rating.

What’s your secret London place?
The Stoop, home to the Harlequins! What I love about The Stoop are all the things surrounding the rugby matches. Before the games, you’ve always got fun rugby challenges you can take part in, and after the game, they have a bar with live music, which is something that’s hard to come by these days! It reminds me of my uni rugby days, where all the people playing sport during the day, met up and partied in the evening.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Pollution. I think we’re only just starting to understand the impact pollution has on our health and the environment. It’s been associated with metabolic diseases and mental health, and it’s such a shame that such an amazing city can be coated in such a dark cloud.

What’s your favourite building?
The Natural History Museum. It’s simply marvellous. I’ve loved it ever since I’ve been a child. It hosts some of my favourite exhibitions, such as photographer of the year award, and provides so much great information. Although I’m sad about Dippy the Diplodocus leaving!

What’s your most hated building?
I’m not sure I hate any, however, I’m not a huge fan of the Shard, it’s too tall and I have vertigo. I love cities like Reykjavik, where most of the tallest buildings are around four storeys (with the exception of Hallgrímskirkja), so if you’re going to build something that tall, then you should at least attempt to make it beautiful, which it isn’t. It also personifies a vibe of rules, fakery and soullessness.

What’s the best view in London?
Greenwich Observatory. Where else can you find an amazing view of London and outer space at the same time?

What’s your personal London landmark?
I’d have to say the fortress that is Twickenham Rugby stadium. I think any rugby lover would be mad not to!  What I love about Twickenham is the atmosphere. It’s far enough outside London to get away from it all, and on match days it carries its own culture and community that you don’t get at places like Wembley.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
I thought fairly hard about this and nearly went for a highbrow answer that personified sophistication. However, in the end, opted for Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are comic geniuses, plus I love a good Cornetto.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
I’m not sure if this counts as I don’t drink alcohol. I’m going to say my local coffee shop – Electric Coffee. I’m there almost every day. Food wise, I don’t think you can beat street food. I think I’d have to say my favourite spot is Hatton Garden.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Participating in a BucketRace of course! Although that wouldn’t be a day off for me. So, instead, I’d go for a local brunch. I used to visit a cafe called Bob’s, however, sadly they’ve recently closed. I’d then grab an Electric Coffee and honestly, I’d go to the gym with friends, train, play sport and relax in the spa. However, that’s a little boring, so backing up to Electric Coffee… I’d head into East London for an activity like Junk Yard golf or Flight Bar with the lads, grab some chocolate at Dark Sugars, grab Indian food for dinner and then head over to Aeronaught in Acton for their circus and VR games. I may substitute Aeronaught for Four Thieves in Clapham, which is a venue I’ve heard lots about and really want to visit.

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