✧ Gems of the East London Line ✧ The East London Line is not only wonderful for getting me home (Brockley), it also joins up many of my London favourites, from the Union Chapel (Highbury & Islington), Brick Lane Beigel Bake (Shoreditch High St) and Whitechapel Art Gallery (Whitechapel) in the north, to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs (Crystal Palace) and Horniman Museum and Gardens (Forest Hill) in the south. But the three jewels in its crown are in the centre and just a couple of stops away from each other.
✧ Wilton’s Music Hall (Shadwell) ✧
A short walk along Cable St and in a pretty pedestrian alley, John Wilton’s wonderful building has survived the vagaries of fashion, the Blitz, overzealous redevelopment and the ravages of time to reward those who find it with a glimpse at the layers of London’s history. In its time it has been a sailor’s pub and brothel, a mission hall, a soup kitchen, a rag merchant’s storeroom and now, once again, a working theatre. Although vital building works are ongoing, there is a varied programme of concerts, theatre, opera, dance, cinema, magic and comedy in the hall, and a warren of cosy rooms in which to enjoy craft beer and cocktails, safe in the knowledge that you are ‘drinking for charity’ (all profits go to restoring the building!) www.wiltons.org.uk
✧ Sands Films (Rotherhithe) ✧ Sands Films is a unique organisation nestled in the cobbled streets of Rotherhithe by the Brunel Museum and historic Mayflower pub. It is a film studio, production company and costumier for nearly every period drama you’ve ever seen. But for the visitor it’s also a vast picture research library, free to use and full of treasures, and the home of the nicest film club I know. Tuesday nights often find me snuggled in an armchair, sofa or rescued ancient cinema seat watching a forgotten treasure of world cinema, chosen and introduced by Olivier whose lifelong passion (he was a protégé of FranÇois Truffaut) for the subject is infectious. www.sandsfilms.co.uk ✧ The Rivoli Ballroom (Brockley) ✧
OK, it’s nearer to Crofton Park, but this palace of red velvet and Chinese lanterns, where the loo is the Ladies’ Boudoir and the bar has padded booths if you need a rest from the dancefloor, is worth the stroll from Brockley. Its 1950s splendour is well known by film companies whose vans line the road outside filming everything from the Muppets film to Elton John videos to Bounty kitchen paper ads. They disappear just in time for the evening’s entertainment, which could be jive or salsa or ballroom or, my favourite, the Magic Theatre, an anything-goes night of dressing up and getting down. www.therivoli.co.uk