Tuesday, July 20, 2010

London is much nicer when you have money

I have an odd love-hate relationship with London - a summer there a decade ago when I worked for an awful magazine was like a tribute to Valley of the Dolls, and when I returned to small-town life afterwards, I felt chastened - as if London itself had rejected me - possibly in the same way that the Mathmos rejected Pygar the angel in Barbarella. I certainly had a country mouse naivety and wholesome charm which Londonders found both beguiling and wildly annoying. And now, every time I get off the train at Euston, I feel that London is eyeing me up - "Back again? Couldn't keep away? Well, just bear in mind, we'll take your money but don't ever make the mistake of thinking we want you round here." (Lancaster on the other hand, pulls out all the stops to keep me here for some reason.)

But my last couple of visits have been fun, and that's in spite of my adage that London is only really bearable if you have plenty of spare cash and don't mind spending it. I went to a classical music concert at Wigmore Hall,, which was put on my some graduating students - it was only £6 yet the music was great. And I went to the Geffrye Museum (completely free), which is set in a row of former alms-houses which have now been converted into different rooms from 1600 to the present day.

There is one place where it is worth going if you have a bit of money though. My favourite shop in London is Liberty & Co which has been around since 1875, the Tudor building being constructed in the 1920s. Liberty is full of "fabulous things" - its upper floors arranged around a central light well. There is a cafe where some of the poshest waitresses in the world work. Every single one looks like she has fallen through a time warp out of Merchant Ivory film and is having to adapt to 21st century life in the best way she can. Forget Harrods (vulgar). Liberty is definitely better.

1 comment:

Lost Boy said...

Ah, you were in London? One day you should 'give me a bell' as my mother used to say. The Geffrye museum is one of my favourites, and I also love Liberty for greeting cards, Christmas presents, ties, socks and formal shirts. It's like a great big tea room that sells other things as well. (Oh and I do wish you'd let Wordpress users leave comments; I've broken up with Blogger and keep forgetting my login)