The Grill — 15 March 2013

I challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will be ‘grilled’ with the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners really think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Duncan Barrett

Duncan Barrett is the co-author, with Nuala Calvi, of Sunday Times bestsellers The Sugar Girls ( and GI Brides ( His forthcoming book Men of Letters, about the Post Office during WW1, is published in August 2014.  Follow him on Twitter: @WW1stories.

sugar girlsWhat’s your secret London tip?

Take the tour at Highgate Cemetery – and then check out the rest of the ‘Magnificent Seven’.

What’s your secret London place?

The Secret Tea Room above the Coach & Horses pub in Soho – if you ask nicely, you’ll be led through the bar to a retro world of 1940s decor and vegan scones.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

The number of people on the Tube.

What’s your favourite building?

It took a while, but the Shard is growing on us – at least from a distance. Where we live in Brixton, it glistens in the distance like the tower of a magical ice kingdom.

GI-BridesWhat’s your most hated building?

The Strata Tower at Elephant and Castle, aka The Razor. Its three wind turbines look like finger holes – if only some benevolent giant would pick it up and take it somewhere else!

What’s the best view in London?

Looking both ways as you whizz across the river after dark, upstairs on a double-decker bus.

What’s your personal London landmark?

The old Tate & Lyle factory at Plaistow Wharf in Silvertown, which still produces the famous golden syrup.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

Bleak House by Charles Dickens. But for the area we wrote about in The Sugar Girls, Melanie McGrath’s Silvertown and Jennifer Worth’s Call the Midwife were great inspirations.

Men-of-LettersWhat’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

We’re vegan, so we love Mildred’s in Soho and Food for Thought in Covent Garden.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

Lazing on the grass in Brockwell Park, with snacks from Ms Cupcake’s café in Brixton Village and a thermos of tea.

This ‘Grill’ was first posted on the Radio Taxis blog.

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