Towering Mindfulness

Morning Mindfulness at Tower Bridge Forty-odd metres below my feet a lady in a large white hat hurries below, clamping the headgear to her head with white fingerless gloves. A man carries something long and shiny over his shoulder. A pair of chaps on bikes shoot in between harried pedestrians who whip round to give them…

Grey Gardens

Southwark Playhouse. I have never seen the seminal 1973 documentary, Grey Gardens. After an evening at Southwark Playhouse, however, I know my life is incomplete until I do. I need to know exactly where the hell what I’ve just been watching came from. Who on earth were Edith Bouvier Beale? Note the plural; there are two Edith Bouvier…

Guys and Dolls

Savoy Theatre, Strand. Guys and Dolls is one of those musicals that makes you smile from its very opening strains. I’ve loved the film since I was a child, though for different reasons at every age. When I was small I just loved the colour and the music; as I got older, I realised  Jean Simmons’s…

The Georgian Dining Academy

If you’re planning a trip to London in the long term, allow me to tempt you with a very quirky evening indeed; one that truly steps back in Old London time… Regular readers will know the delights ofSimpsons Tavern, the oldest chop house in London–established in 1757 and still, hidden in a warren of medieval alleyways, a secret…

Tea & Tattle

The delightfully-named Arthur Probsthain opened his oriental and African bookshop in Great Russell Street exactly 110 years ago. Upstairs it’s still family business as usual. A few years ago, however, the latest generation, Tim and Chris, cleared out the bulging cellar and turned it into a tiny tearoom. It’s turned into a favourite haunt of…

The Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court

When ‘food’ is mentioned in the same sentence as ‘Hampton Court’ what generally springs to mind are Henry VIII’s massive Tudor kitchens, groaning with hogs heads, venison and enough pies to satisfy an army. An army that when not actually fighting potential invaders, spent much of its time playing at it, jousting in the tilt-yards…

Les Liasions Dangereuses

When Les Liaisons Dangereuses first opened in the West End many, many years ago, I smashed my piggy bank to go and was stunned by Christopher Hampton’s sparkling interpretation of Laclose’s original novel. Ever since, whenever it’s revived (it was later filmed as Dangerous Liaisons with John Malkovitch and Glenn Close) I am staggered by how…

The Secret Bunker under the Secret Bunker

There’s a strange little trap door as you enter the Churchill War Rooms. Most visitors walk straight past – or even over – its dusty glass window. For those who stop to look, a set of wooden steps lead to darkness. Beyond that, who knows. On the wall an unremarkable black and white photograph holds…

The Lost Library of Dr John Dee

 Scholar, courtier, magician: The Lost Library of John Dee 18 Jan-29 July 2016, Royal College of Physicians, free admission   Where do you start with Doctor John Dee? Mathematician, alchemist, magician, astrologer, astronomer, spy, angel-botherer, Dee was a true Elizabethan polymath. From early theatrical leanings, directing student productions at Cambridge with astonishing special effects, to advising…

Lumiere London

Curious about this lot, hanging around a telephone box in Grosvenor Square on a freezing January evening? Incredibly it’s not a scene from the next Dr Who series, but  Lumiere London, a rather wonderful, four day but currently one-off treasure hunt around the capital. From Westminster Abbey to Kings Cross, Piccadilly to St James, artists…