Summer 2012 Issue 16 of your FREE guide to everything that is anything in Covent Garden coventgardenjournal.com
COVENT GARDEN JOURNAL /16
COVENT GARDEN Journal
‘Meat!’ at the Strand Carvery; enjoy scrumptious traditional roasts and delicious seafood starters. Perfectly nestled between Covent Garden and the Strand we are an ideal restaurant for fun days out in London or friends and family gatherings. Johnston’s ‘off ’ the Strand, our long running establishment in the heart of Theatreland, offering contemporary British food with unbelievably good value pre-theatre menus, in addition to an inventive a la carte menu and extensive wine list.
For more information, please contact our Food & Beverage department: t: 020 7497 4158 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org Strand Palace Hotel 372 Strand, London WC2R 0JJ
Summer 2012 Issue 16 of your FREE guide to everything that is anything in Covent Garden coventgardenjournal.com
02 04 34 50 70 74 EDITOR’S LETTER
04—State of the union Summer styles from CGJ’s favourite British designers.
34—Ma’am bread Jamie Oliver on Union Jacks, curry and British ingredients.
14—Moral high ground Why Patagonia is so committed to not being evil that it wants its customers to buy only as much as they really need.
38—Feeding frenzy CGJ’s guide to Covent Garden’s food scene.
50—The cultural Olympians Chair of the Cultural Olympiad Tony Hall on how a little-heralded aspect of London 2012 could leave a lasting legacy.
70—Head mistress How Nell Gwyn’s wit, spark and other notable charms ensured a rapid rise from Covent Garden orange seller to comic actress to adored mistress of Charles II.
74—The constant gardener Two and half years ago Sunday Times journalist Giles Hattersley moved to a flat right in the heart of Covent Garden. He tells Clare Finney about spending his life right in the middle of it all.
18—Scents and sensibilities Creating perfumes at Jo Malone. 20—Floral dancers Bloomsbury Flowers. 24—Expert eye Buying a bike. 25—Magnificant 7 7 For All Mankind. 26—Ceremonial robes Opening Ceremony. 28—Nectar points Melvita beehives. 30—My fashion life Alex Shaw, founder and director of Laird London.
40—In bloom Bloom Gin’s Joanna Moore, the world’s only female Master Distiller.
54—Behind the curtain Backstage at The Woman in Black.
44—Earthly delights Dalla Terra.
58—Film school The London Film Museum.
46—Crumbs of comfort Jayne Arthur of The Red Gingham Bakery.
60—Art workers Five gallery staff talk about their favourite paintings.
47—Gold standards Coffee and the Olympics. 48—The ladychiller Rose petal ice cream from The Icecreamists.
64—Mad scientists The Physicists. 65—From the crew room Crowded houses.
49—The world on a plate A global food festival. 66—Mapped out London Transport Museum.
32—Rules of engagement The bar at Rules. 01 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
68—Exhibit Forthcoming exhibitions.
78—Special agents Chesterton Humberts. 79—Directory
Useful websites coventgardenlondonuk.com operaquarter.co.uk sevendials.co.uk stmartinscourtyard.com
EDITOR’S LETTER /Mark Riddaway
So the summer of 2012 has arrived and the Olympic circus is finally rolling into town. I, for one, can’t wait. The Games ought to be fantastic—not least because we all love a bit of a moan, and plenty of thought appears to have gone into providing Londoners with some priceless opportunities to gripe: public transport chaos, special traffic lanes for rapacious IOC officials, sponsorship deals with pedlars of fat and blandness, vast teams of corporate lawyers stamping on any unauthorised fun. But we also love coming together to participate in shared spectacles—even a half-dead whale drew vast crowds to the banks of the Thames a few years ago—so once the starting gun has been fired, that heady sense of communal excitement will soon overwhelm our natural cynicism. Covent Garden, right in the heart of London, is bound to fill up with visitors, and the whole place is going to buzz even more loudly than usual. What tourists from around Britain and the world will discover is an area that is as vibrant and as confident as it has been at any time since the fruit and veg market upped sticks—as this special bumper issue of CGJ so graphically demonstrates. Nowhere else in London will you find such a range of great places to eat or such a pleasant and varied environment for shopping. It is buzzing with culture—including its participation in the Cultural Olympiad—and its rich history seeps from every brick and flagstone. Showing visitors a good time is not going to be a problem—persuading them to leave in time to make it to the Olympic Park might well be. 02 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Editor Mark Riddaway 020 7401 7297 email@example.com Deputy editor Viel Richardson 020 7401 7297 firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant editor Clare Finney 020 7401 7297 email@example.com Advertising sales Donna Earrey 020 7401 2772 firstname.lastname@example.org Steve Charles 0844 800 4121 steve@lscpublish ing.com Publisher LSC Publishing Unit 11 La Gare 51 Surrey Row London SE1 0BZ lscpublishing.com Contributers Jean-Paul Aubin-Parvu Glyn Brown Shannon Denny Joseph Fox Angela Holder Jackie Modlinger Design and art direction Em-Project Limited 01892 614 346 email@example.com Distribution Letterbox Printing Buxton NEXT ISSUE: SEPTEMBER 2012
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Covent Garden Piazza
STATE OF THE UNION
With all eyes on London this summer, Covent Garden can’t muster up much by way of sporting excellence, but it has much to show off when it comes to fashion—an area in which Britain really does lead the medals table. Here is a collection of summer styles from some of CGJ’s favourite British designers
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Burberry Brit From Ernest Shackleton in 1914 to the iconic ‘trench’ coats of the First World War, founder Thomas Burberry made his name kitting out some of Britain’s finest adventurers. But in recent years, the biggest challenge this brand has faced was neither crossing Antarctica nor beating the Hun, but reclaiming its signature check from knock-off merchants and football hooligans, dusting off its negative connotations and making it the basis of the luxury, fashionsavvy, eminently covetable collection you can find in the brand’s King Street store. Go trad with a trench, or check out some of the new checked shirt varieties and partner with jeans. Either way, you don’t get much more British than Burberry Brit. —Honey cotton oversize trench coat with detachable shearling collar, £1,095 —Check cotton shirt, £175
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STATE OF THE UNION
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Barbour There was a time when the plain, practical Barbour waxed jacket seemed out of place in central London. Yet when it comes to British fashion and British weather, we all know which is the more constant companion—so when, in 2008 model Alexa Chung succumbed to the practicalities of failsafe waterproofing and warmth at Glastonbury it wasn’t long before the fash-pack followed suit. Fast forward four years and Barbour’s designers have returned the favour 10-fold, offering not just outdoor wear but shirts, scarves and bags. Jackets followed the fashions—hence the vintage cape shown here—yet functionality remains the ultimate priority. Which is just as well, given our national excuse for a summer. —Raffia trilby, £49.95 —Vintage cape, £249.95 —Tina shirt, £89.95 Paul Smith Smart, dapper, classic and yet quirky, if anyone deserves the title of consummate British designer it is Sir Paul Smith. So it will come as a relief to any lover of style that he failed to fulfil his original ambition to be a racing cyclist. Only after a bad accident did he take up tailoring under Harold Tillman, become a tailor on Saville Row soon after, and set up his own small but perfectly formed shop on Floral Street. From there it was but a short step to global popularity. The rest is fashion history, as without Paul Smith’s multi coloured stripe, beautiful shoes and perfectly cut suits, no self-respecting Englishman’s wardrobe could be considered complete. —Paul Smith London shirt, £120 —Paul Smith London suit, £760 —Paul Smith Accessories tie, £69
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STATE OF THE UNION
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Twenty8Twelve Short of actual burglary, St Martin’s Courtyard’s dedicated Twenty8Twelve store is the best way of possessing Sienna Miller’s covetable wardrobe— the contents of which have been spearheading British style for years. Founded by Sienna and her sister Savannah in 2007, the label’s unique blend of bohemia and smart tailoring has since made it a staple of glossy magazines. Not a London Fashion Week goes by without the blond and impossibly leggy duo appearing. Last year, they released a Made in England capsule collection. This season it continues to fire on all cylinders, as this silken, Jubilee-esque dress beautifully shows. —Oberon Col multi dress, £250 Fred Perry Well howzat for a British brand? Not only is Fred Perry a synonym for London street wear, but its founder was a championship-winning tennis player who could count among his long list of titles the most English tournament there has ever been. Between 1934 and 1936 Perry won Wimbledon no less than three times in a row. Less excitingly, he was the last British man to win the title. Nevertheless, his name is legendary— and while these days it is probably better known for clothes than for tennis, that is just a mark of how sharp and stylish his laurel-wreath branded label has become. —The Champion’s kit bomber jacket, £110 —The Champion’s kit Henley tshirt, £45 —Chinos, £85
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STATE OF THE UNION
Aubin and Wills The older (and more sophisticated) brother of Jack Wills, Aubin and Wills is what devotees of the latter brand wear post-graduation. The preppiness is still there, of course, but tempered by a generous slice of urban cool. After all, three years of trying to fit in is enough to make anyone hanker for something individual, and the jazzy colours and floral prints here provide this in spades. “Modern British design inspired by the past and living in the present” runs the strapline. We couldn’t put it better ourselves. —Lytham shorts, £75 —Stokesley tee, £75 Unconditional Like Brora and Burberry Brit, in that the name really says it all, Unconditional on Monmouth Street is unlike other brands in almost every other respect. For one thing, the clothes aren’t classic styles, at least not in the conventional sense—although many, like the braceprint t-shirt here, offer a nice twist. For another, Mancunian Philip Stephens has no training in design. What he does have, however, is bags of creativity and a very English ‘I don’t know what’ that makes each one of his items, be it a suit, boot or a cashmere cardi stand out from the crowd. —Purple-blue and black check one button jacket, £395 —White v-neck tshirt with appliquéd silk satin star braces, £89 —Purple and black check drop crotch trousers, £199
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STATE OF THE UNION
Brora Brora. Even the name sounds comfortable—the verbal equivalent of scooping marshmallows out your hot chocolate. Its specialism is cashmere, but that hasn’t stopped it branching out into more summer-friendly fare. Collaborations with Liberty have yielded many delightful cotton dresses and blouses. Espadrilles and sweet straw boaters top it off. Be warned however that as the wind picks up you’ll need the cosy warmth of Scottish cashmere woven in mills that have been running for centuries—so take a cardi, and tie it round your shoulders for that quintessentially British vibe. —Liberty jersey blouson dress, £129 Styling and photography Holly Cox hollycox.co.uk Hair Arash Moghaddami Karine Jackson Salon 24 Litchfield Street 020 7836 0300 karinejackson.co.uk Make up Angelina Howard 07706 876983 Models Charlie Coleman, Oxygen Models Lois Mallett, MO Model Management
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DISCOVER SEVEN DIALS Seven Dials, Covent Gardenâ€™s only village, brings you seven streets of independent boutiques, heritage brands, vintage stores and indulgent beauty & grooming salons, all carefully selected for shoppers of discerning taste.
on to Neal Street to discover Seven Dials
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SEVEN DIALS WC2
Lots of companies see environmental credentials and social responsibility as little more than marketing tools, but as Clare Finney discovers, Patagonia is so committed to not being evil that it even suggests that its customers only buy as much as they really, really need
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MORAL HIGH GROUND
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MORAL HIGH GROUND
There aren’t many clothing companies willing to make the details of their supply chains available on the internet. There aren’t many clothing companies telling their customers to buy less. In fact, until last week had you told me such a company existed—and a highly successful, globalised company at that —I would have laughed at you. Then I discovered Patagonia—and my faith in corporate social responsibility was restored. Well, maybe not entirely restored: there are still a good few corporations out there using CSR as a mask for mischief. Nevertheless the knowledge that Patagonia is serious about it has given me some cause for hope. Log on to the company’s website and you’ll find an entire menu bar of environmental initiatives— The Footprint Chronicles, Our Common Waters, Common Threads Initiative—each click of which leads to even more menus offering pictures, accessible text and numerous case studies. Patagonia’s story is one of remarkable transformation. Founded by a climber called Yvon Chouinard, the firm began its life producing climbing pitons, to be sold out the boot of Yvon’s car in the summer months. By 1970 Chouinard Equipment (as it was then called) was the largest supplier of climbing hardware in the US. Yet it was also an environmental villain, its iron pitons responsible for rock degradation on hundreds of climbing routes—and after one particularly depressing ascent up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Chouinard knew it was time to change. His answer? Aluminum chocks which could be wedged by hand rather than hammered deep into cracks. As an industrial move, it was one that would revolutionise the climbing world. Yet it was also a value judgement, a personal choice that would set the precedent for how Chouinard Equipment would operate long after its original name and line in hardware had been forgotten. Patagonia’s mission—to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”—had begun. In the early 1990s, the company started “getting down to the raw materials and trying to make those the best we could from an environmental standpoint,” director of environmental strategy Jill Dumain tells me. “And at the time, organic cotton was really the best choice that we could make.” This was easier said than done, however, as Patagonia discovered when it set out to 16 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
convert its entire range of clothes and realised that the organic cotton supply chain was too underdeveloped. “We did a lot of work just developing the industry—making a new supply chain basically from the fields to the mill. There were other companies using organic cotton at that time, but often it was just a certain portion of their line rather than the whole range.” It wasn’t until 1996 that Patagonia achieved that particular goal. At that point Jill recalls Patagonia having two epiphanies in quick succession. “Firstly we realised the difference organic cotton could make in the world. Secondly we knew the organic industry had to grow if it was going to succeed.” In order for that to happen, rival clothing companies needed to undergo exactly the same difficult conversion Patagonia had just been through. Yet while most companies would rather fold than share such hard-won commercial secrets, for Jill, as for
Chouinard and his wife, the decision to share what they’d learnt online and with over 160 rival companies was nothing but a positive move. “It’s a husband and wife team who own Patagonia and they really are in business to do things right from an environmental perspective,” Jill tells me, when I ask what the shareholders think to all this—and while she’s not sure the clothing designers would necessarily agree with the idea of Patagonia as “an environmental company that just happens to sell clothing to do good work”, it isn’t far off. In part down to past mistakes (Patagonia had a financial crisis in the 1992 recession and resolved never to grow too fast or borrow too much again), in part to its innate values, Patagonia’s commitment to the planet “goes above and beyond any competitive considerations” to help companies manage supply chains and use better resources. “After all,” she points out, “when you’re talking about the sustainable
LIFE Patagonia 6A Langley Street patagonia.com
The clothing industry these days, with everyone buying more stuff rather than repairing things, has just become obscene. It’s not a sustainable business model. Most people don’t know how to sew anymore
future of the planet it shouldn’t really be about competition.” Today, as well as giving them technical information about resources, she is helping devise an ‘eco-index’ that would allow other companies to rate and then improve their environmental credentials. “I’m a lot more optimistic now than I was a few years ago,” she explains. “In the 90s we didn’t have many companies working like we were in our industry, but I think since 2007 its been encouraging”—and if you’re looking for examples, the 1% For The Planet initiative says it all. This is a not-for-profit organisation established by Patagonia to encourage other business to donate some dosh to green causes. As you will have probably guessed by now, the sum is one per cent of net annual sales. Having been following this guide since the 1980s, the company knows only too well just how much difference this much cash and 17 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
resources—FSC forests, reclaimed metal melted down—or second hand. “We say to our merchandisers, here’s $100, go round flea markets and find some stuff,” Jonathan laughs. “We don’t want to use new stuff we want stuff that already exists.” In other words, Patagonia doesn’t just talk the talk —it walks, climbs, skis, snowboards and surfs it. So where does that one per cent go here? Not on store decoration clearly—and not, it seems, on projects flung far across the globe. Instead, there is a UK-based environmental council to which “real grassroots people, who need money and do good stuff with it” can submit applications. Those voted most worthy will receive some funding and have their cause promoted in Langley Street on a board which is already overflowing with good works. “Sustain in London—they’re partly funding an officer who will go round and educate schools and local authorities about biodiversity and environmental awareness in the local community,” lists Jonathan. “Surfers Against Sewage—they’ve managed to get the rules changed on effluent that can be put out to sea. We’ve supported them for years and years and this is their latest project, organised by the surf community in London. Working with local people is really an important part of what we do.” So saying he leads me to the final and most surprising part of Patagonia (if you don’t include the mini climbing walls, that is) beside the reclaimed checkout desk. Here, an old Singer sewing machine sits next to a sign asking customers to reduce, reuse, recycle—and buy less. “It’s called in-kind donations can make to the planet, our Common Threads Initiative,” explains from cleaning coastlines to preserving Jonathan. “The clothing industry these days, rainforests. Yet what customers to our own with everyone buying more stuff rather than Covent Garden branch of Patagonia may repairing things, has just become obscene. not have realised is just how locally oriented It’s not a sustainable business model. Most Patagonia’s environmentalism, and this people don’t know how to sew anymore.” ‘1%’ project in particular, can be. To counter it, Patagonia has invested in I meet Jonathan Petty, Patagonia’s repair centres and product development. European marketing director, in the Langley “We put twice as much thread in buttons as Street store: a cool, friendly operation anyone else, because these are the things based in the husk of what was a coach that come off. We spend a lot more money house in the 17th century before becoming on tacking at major wear points, so they home to Watney’s, one of the oldest brewers don’t fray,” he says. To prove it, each item of in London. It’s a rich heritage to which clothing comes with a lifetime guarantee. Patagonia has gladly paid tribute. Stand “We want you to buy fewer items, and in outside and you can’t help but notice the return we’ll make them last a long time.” wide arches of the coach house bridging Of course, Jonathan isn’t unaware of the the doorway. Look in and you’ll see barrels irony of Patagonia asking people to buy less. and brick walls aplenty. “We try to keep it But then Patagonia isn’t about making a as much a part of the building as possible,” quick buck. It’s about quality of environment says Jonathan, “so the walls and beams and quality of lifestyle. It just happens that are original.” If something new is necessary the best way to achieve this is to make it’s either recycled, taken from sustainable quality clothes.
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Clare Finney spends the afternoon at Jo Malone, searching out her perfect perfume
LIFE Jo Malone 10-11 King Street 0870 192 5771 jomalone.co.uk
I first realised the devastating power of perfume two years ago, while meeting up with an old boyfriend. We hadn’t seen each other since it ended, but for the first few seconds all went well. I said, “Hello”. He said, “How are you?” We went for an awkward embrace—at which point he reeled back as if scalded. “Christ!” he shouted. “That smell kills me, even today.” Ever since then, I’ve worn that same perfume day in, evening out—not out of any lingering affection, but in the hope it bewitches someone better. Needless to say, it’s yet to deliver the goods. So when the opportunity arose for me to attend a scent-combining consultation, I decided the time had come to find a more suitable fragrance. Goodbye Christian Dior, Hello Jo Malone. “Clare! Welcome to Jo Malone. Can I tempt you with champagne?” Given that it’s 2pm and I’m back to the office afterwards, I suspect the correct answer is ‘no’. Yet for some reason—the heady atmosphere, the soothing music, or the prospect of being single for ever— go for it. After all, I’m only choosing perfume. How hard can it be? 10 seconds later I find out, as with the tenacity of a Spanish inquisitor Lisa asks me about my perfume tastes. “So tell me —how does your perfume make you feel? 19 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Why do you wear it? What does it smell like?” For a moment, I am bewildered—surely the only answer to all these questions is nice—but after some thought I realise there is more to it than that. Why is it that this perfume more than others feels more ‘me’? According to Lisa the best way to answer is to look at the main ingredients in your perfume—jasmine, gardenia and Burbon vanilla in my case—and then how warm or fresh it is. For this you can use Jo Malone’s ‘scent spectrum’. “At the fresh end are citrus and fruity smells, going through florals to the warmer woody scents,” explains Lisa. Once you’ve a rough idea of tone it’s time to hit the bottle. Of perfume. First though, comes the hand and arm massage—a pleasant addition which is all the more soothing for the champagne, and allows me to touch upon Jo Malone’s range of skin care: bath oil, body lotion and a huge, creamy pot of vitamin E scrub. “This stuff’s amazing,” raves Lisa. “It lasts forever, and your skin feels so silky soft afterwards. Plus you don’t have to use moisturiser so it’s perfect when you’re on the run.” Rolling my shirt sleeves back, Lisa washes away the Dior—“ Lime, basil and mandarin bath oil. It’s like the smell of lime on a Caribbean breeze”—and sets to work, massaging the scrub in circular motions. The effect is like having praline melt into your skin. “It’s made with almond oil, so it is really rich and nourishing,” she says, before patting me down with a towel freshly scented with Acqua di Limone linen spray—a reminder that the list of possible home fragrances available at Jo Malone is almost as long as that of the perfumes. Almost, but not quite, as the merest glance around the store will tell you, with its long, elegant white walls studded with bottles glittering like jewels. The classic collection alone boasts 20 scents, and that’s before you count the Cologne Intense group. “These are particularly popular with men,” Lisa explains. Ostensibly this is because the aroma is defined as “deeply sensual, delicious, even dangerous edge.” In reality, I suspect it’s because the bottles are black. Either way, each one of these five combinations of precious ingredients—rosewater, iris and amber to name a handful—lead to an aroma that would make any lady swoon. The scent is
intense—but so, inevitably, is the price tag. I’m determined to try out Jo Malone’s classics before dipping my wrists in her more expensive cologne. White jasmine and mint; English pear and freesia; nectarine blossom and honey; pomegranate noir; wild bluebell. By the time Lisa has finished spritzing these on strips my nose is thoroughly confused—which is where having a fragrance expert to hand comes into its own. “Smell this towel,” says Lisa. “It will help clear it. Now, try to think about what you don’t want from a perfume.” I rack my olfactory cells. I don’t want it too sweet, or too fruity—I’m not a pudding— and I don’t want to smell like I’m pushing 80. Nor am I looking to recreate a garden in full bloom. In the end, we decide the best thing is to keep the fruity-floral smells to the body lotion and choose a more intense, warm scent for the perfume—it’s a great way, explains Lisa, of creating your own bespoke perfume. “There are two ways of going about fragrance combining: a scented body lotion topped with a perfume, or two perfumes used together,” she says. “If you want one to be more subtle than the other the first method is ideal.” At the moment my heart is set on lime, basil and mandarin as the lotion—it’s zingy, and it matches the bath oil Lisa used on me—yet I’m still lost when it comes to the perfume part, and several fruitless sprays of Vetyver later I’m back looking longingly at the Cologne Intense. For Lisa this is not surprising: “You can ‘sort of like’ lots of perfumes, but there is usually only one you really love,” she grins, selecting a neat black bottle from the shelf. She sprays. I sniff—and immediately know I’ve found the one: amber and patchouli, from Cologne Intense. It’s a “seductive fragrance” (or so I’m told) that acts as the perfect complement to my body lotion. It’s neither too musky, nor too sweet. And with over 300 possible combinations available from Jo Malone, there’s little chance of my fragrance becoming anybody else’s. If only the same were true of men.
FLORAL Jackie Modlinger meets Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks, two former dancers who moved from ballet to an altogether different artformâ€”flower arranging
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DANCERS Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks first met in 1970 at White Lodge, the Royal Ballet’s junior school, where they would form a lasting friendship. Having danced their way through the next two decades, the pair began to contemplate a new career direction, and floristry proved a common bond. “All we needed was a shop somewhere, some buckets, a cold tap and a pair of scissors,” says Stephen. The seeds were sown. The Dancers’ Career Development—a charity founded to help retiring professional dancers re-invent themselves—enabled Welford and Wicks to make their desired career move, and they finally hung up their dancing shoes in the summer of 1994. Later that year, Bloomsbury Flowers sprouted at 29 Great Queen Street, a 17th century property with something of a history. In its time, number 29 has been occupied by all manner of trades and professions— including an ornamental fan-maker, a surgeon and a laundry. The closest affinity to its present incarnation was pre-1930 when the premises were home to an importer of Dutch tulip bulbs. “When I was with the Royal Ballet, I used to come and have my hair cut at Charles Worthington, just two doors down—I spotted this shop empty, so I told Mark and that was that,” says Stephen. But when Welford and Wicks took it over “it was hideous. We knocked everything through, laid new floors, panelled the walls, installed new lighting, new wiring.” The Bloomsbury boys, as they are dubbed, have applied the same dedication and professionalism to their re-invention as florists as they did to their ballet, treating it as an art form. Their philosophy is that “less is more”—their ultra-contemporary and edgy floral creations proving that the simplest of arrangements can have the greatest impact. ‘Flowers with Attitude’ is their slogan, writ large on their delivery van, and they remain true to it. The shop continues to flourish and the pair have built up a prestigious following, with a high-profile client list including the Royal Opera House, London Transport Museum and Firmdale Hotels. As for starry clients, it’s “thousands, darling,” boasts Stephen, citing Jennifer Saunders and Darcey Bussell among them.
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Having clocked up 18 years in floristry, Mark and Stephen have a wealth of experience to their credit, which they decided to share with a wider audience, having co-written a book aptly titled Flower Arranging, published by Dorling Kindersley. If you fancy yourself as a DIY florist, this is a great manual, being both aspirational and inspirational. It covers colour, shapes, equipment and tools of the trade, tying and wrapping. It also endorses the authors’ belief that containers are key to successful arranging. “In this day and age, it’s not just about the flowers; it’s about the container as well,” maintains Mark. First choose your container, then pick your flowers, they suggest, proposing essential glass receptacles such as a fishbowl, cube or column vase. Or how about a small bucket, confit can, tartlet tin, coconut shell or pottery jug? CGJ: Were you like Billy Elliott growing up? Stephen Wicks: No, not really. Our backgrounds were different. Mark and I met at the Royal Ballet School in White Lodge in the middle of Richmond Park. The common bond was that that we just wanted to dance. How was life at White Lodge? Mark Welford: I think that it is very different now to how it was then. The standard of teaching and pastoral care is probably a lot better now than when we were there. You were there to do one thing—dance— which encouraged a very, very competitive environment. It was very disciplined. Stephen was a boarder; I was a day boy. SW: I had terrible homesickness, hated being away from home and found it very difficult. I think being in a rarefied atmosphere such as the Royal Ballet School and literally stuck in the middle of Richmond Park for five years of your life makes you anti-social. You’re just stuck with those 25 people at a very formative time of your life. How did your parents feel about you doing ballet? SW: My mother forced me into a ballet studio at the age of two and a half so that was what she thought about it. My father, an engineer who supervised machinery in a factory, a very clever man, could never come to terms with it. We had all done
Bloomsbury Flowers 29 Great Queen Street 020 7242 2840 bloomsburyflowers.co.uk
It’s one of those things that you can’t be too blinkered about—you learn as you go along, by watching other people. You learn from the environment, from travelling. It’s an organic process that you just allow to happen. We had a friend of Stephen’s at the time who was a florist. She worked with us for the first three months, and although it was a bit stressful, it was useful having her here. What are your most memorable commissions? SW: We did a beautiful country wedding at Cheltenham about three years ago. And it is always fun working at the Royal Opera House—we do the Christmas decorations there every year. We got a silver medal at Chelsea Flower Show two years ago in conjunction with Firmdale, so that was amazing. The Theme was ‘Afternoon Tea’ and we worked in conjunction with Kit Kemp—we made the cakes out of flowers. ballroom-dancing, so there was a bit of ‘campery’ there, but he just couldn’t get to grips with it all. He wouldn’t come backstage. He found the whole thing very disturbing I think. MW: My mother and father loved the arts, and the reason I started dancing was that I was taken to The Nutcracker one Boxing Day at the Royal Festival Hall. I think I was two-and-a-half, and my parents couldn’t get a babysitter. I came out afterwards and said that was what I wanted to do and my parents didn’t really take much notice. I suppose being academics, they had no idea about anybody becoming a ballet dancer. Eventually they let me start at the local dancing school and my teacher suggested I apply to the Royal Ballet School. My parents loved the fact that I was a dancer, but I think it was quite an eye-opener for them. I didn’t tell any of my friends. I think that boys still get teased a bit for it now, especially for ballet, but it’s certainly not un-cool for boys to dance and sing—you only have to look at the ghastly X-Factor and that sort of thing. What were your favourite roles? MW: It changed as I went through my career, depending on how fit I was and what I could get up and do, but I think it was my last role—the Pas de Deux in the 22 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
second movement of a one-act ballet called Concerto, which is beautiful music by Shostakovich. I danced at the Royal Opera House stage here—that was one of my favourite moments. SW: As you go through your career, it changes what you do. Like when you’re 22 you might like doing Cavaliers and Sleeping Beauty, but a decade later you prefer to do the King. It’s what happens—the progression of a dancer’s career. Why the name Bloomsbury Flowers? MW: It was basically because of the Bloomsbury Set, that was our original idea. All the painters of the period used so many flowers in their paintings. And there was a connection with the ballerina Lydia Lopokova, aka the Bloomsbury Ballerina, who married John Maynard Keynes, so there was a sort of connection between ballet and Bloomsbury. How did you learn the trade? SW: On the run really. We did Jane Packer’s flower course and that was it—we just sort of improvised as we went along. MW: I knew very little about flower arranging. I liked flowers, knew quite a bit about gardening, but it wasn’t until we both did the course together that I learned more about it.
How do you divvy up the workload? MW: Stephen is mainly in charge of the hotel design. There are six hotels and that takes up a lot of the time. I spend a lot of time doing the flowers and deciding what is coming into the shop, though Stephen does a lot of the physical buying. He goes to the market virtually on a daily basis and I go down when I can. I like to get into the shop early each day so I can catch up on bits and pieces that may have come in overnight. I’d rather be here to pick up the phone. What does Covent Garden mean to you? MW: Our connection with the Opera House means that memories are just around the corner. I’ve been coming here since I was about five years old, so I still remember the old fruit and veg market. SW: I love the mix of the shops—from Paul Smith to all the market traders with their stalls which change constantly. MW: And the street performers are great and there’s always music down in the market. We’ve been here now with the shop for 18 years and it is impossible to walk around Covent Garden without seeing someone you know. It’s like a little community.
t he w orld
J o M aloNe
Unexpected scents. Coveted candles. The art of gift giving. N ow
10 -11 K iNg S treet | C oveNt g ardeN
LIFE IN BRIEF
Flower power Summer schools don’t come much more summery than those at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, running in July and August this year in St Martin’s Courtyard. Sign up for the first week, and before seven days are out you’ll know
how to care for and condition flowers and will be able to construct perfect arrangements for special occasions and weddings. In the process, you’ll pick your blooms and negotiate with the market traders during an early morning ‘field trip’ to the market. And if by the end of this
you feel you’ve got the flower bug you can sign up to another course, where you’ll design large floral arrangements and learn the construction techniques behind arranging. academyofflowers.com
Specialized Concept Store 11 Mercer Street, St Martin’s Courtyard cyclesurgery.com/ specialized-concept-store
Topman General Store 36-38 Earlham Street, Seven Dials topman.com
/What to ask yourself before buying a bike
Jonathan Sharpe of Cycle Surgery gives some valuable pointers for cycling commuters looking to purchase a new bike With such a fantastic and varied selection of bikes in the Specialized store, your best option is to have a chat with our staff about your riding requirements. In order to ensure you get the most from your new bike we will ask a series of questions in order to select the best bike to fit your needs: 1—What are you going to be using your bike for? Is it just for commuting to and from work, or would you also like to use it for long distance charity rides, fitness sessions and riding down the towpath to the pubs? For example, Hybrids are good all-rounders, easily taking you from city roads to trails, and can also have rugged tyres added for extra grip off road. 2—Where you’ll be riding your bike? Think about whether your local routes are flat or hilly. If the roads are flat then a single speed / fixed gear bike would suffice and will require less maintenance—plus skinny tyres will also give you added speed. 24 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
/Topman General Store
A hybrid with fatter tyres and more gears will give more comfort for challenging routes. That said, any type of bike can be converted to a commute bike and we’re often adding flat bars to road bikes for speedy commuters. 3—Where will you be storing your bike? Most people in London either live in the city or commute to the station. In both instances a folding bike could be an option. Folding bikes have the benefit of being accepted on all train services and are convenient to store when space is an issue. 4—What accessories will you need? Buying a new bike is exciting, but people often forget about the essential accessories. We recommend a helmet, lock and cable, pump and some tools. Commuters should also consider mudguards, racks, and accessories that aid visibility for commuting: lights, bright jacket, and reflective arm and leg straps. Helmets are worth investing in and need to fit correctly, and D-locks should be Gold or Silver standard with an additional cable to protect your new pride and joy. 5—How often do you use your bike? If you’re frequently riding to work you will need to have your bike regularly serviced; how regularly depends on the type of usage. Bikes that undergo more vigorous use on every outing will need replacement parts more often, so consider this in your budget. All Cycle Surgery stores have a workshop with CyTech-trained mechanics. Remember keeping your tyres solidly pumped up will help avoid punctures on the way to work. 6—Have you heard of the Cycle to Work Scheme? The government’s Cycle to Work Scheme encourages people to use a bike for their daily commute. Ask your employer to sign up to the scheme and you can save money on buying your commute bike. At Cycle Surgery we run our own Tax Free Cycle scheme—check out taxfreecycle.com for more details.
If you haven’t heard of Topman General Store, the first thing you need to know is that it’s nothing like Topman—no rowdy tweenagers, no disorderly piles of clothes, and no Topshop next door. Instead imagine a small boutique, artfully displaying the cream of Topman’s core pieces and a few bits of Topman Design and Topman Limited that have been carefully chosen in accordance with the area, mixed up with some other premium labels. The store on Earlham Street, Seven Dials, is the second in the Topman General Store stable. The first was in Spitalfields, offering a blend of art installations, locally inspired collections and in-store events. The new Seven Dials store has a minimal ‘Scandanavian’ aesthetic, and the clothes are a little smarter than those in the East End. Brands on offer include leathers from Fleet Ilya, knitwear from John Smedley, Pendleton shirts, Taxonomy t-shirts and Percival jackets, as well as limited edition art works.
7 for all Mankind 11B King Street 020 7240 1294
MAGNIFICENT SEVEN /7 For All Mankind
“One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages,” quoth Shakespeare, before—in the next breath— declaring all the world to be a stage. Although not his intention, the Bard provides all the reasons you could possibly need to wear good jeans. After all, jeans are the fashion failsafe however old you are, and they’re always on show. Thank goodness then for the arrival of 7 For All Mankind. Fresh from the US, this premium denim brand has graced the pins of many a celebrity since it launched in 2000. Its fits were flattering, its finishes looked ‘the business’, and it had style in abundance. Before the year was up it had a nickname— ‘Sevens’—and the stage was set for it to become one of the new millennium’s favourite denim brands. It was only a matter of time before it landed in Covent Garden, the fashionable heart of London. 7 For All Mankind is now open on King Street. If, like most people, you spend your seven ages living in jeans (or chinos, jumpers and blouses—they stock those too) then we suggest you swing by immediately. 25 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
LIFE IN BRIEF
Watch out The time is ripe for Casio G-Shock, which recently opened in the Market Building. Boasting exposed brickwork, minimalist décor, a history of the brand and an array of fine watches, the concept store has been worth waiting for—not
least because it will be stocking several exclusive new lines. There’s a limited edition watch designed by Krink, the New York street artist—the snazzily titled G-Shock DW-6900KR, which epitomises the boldness and resilience associated with graffiti culture. There’s the latest
Premium range and a wealth of snazzy Baby Gs. And if the live street installation with which it launched didn’t whet your appetite sufficiently, the store is set to receive a set of exclusive lines and collaborations. Watch this space. casio.co.uk
Opening Ceremony 31-32 King Street openingceremony.us
CEREMONIAL ROBES /Opening Ceremony
The phrase ‘opening ceremony’ is not one that is readily associated with good taste and effortless cool. In fact, anyone who has watched the seemingly endless displays of unfettered bombast and buttock-clenching naffness that have marked the start of just about every major sporting event since the death of tasteful understatement in about 1978 could tell you that Opening Ceremony—with its overtones of interpretive dance and dreadful europop —is possibly the least promising name ever for a fashion brand. So it is something of a revelation to discover that a shop boasting that moniker is opening in Covent Garden, and not only is it rather good, it is the very epitome of urban cool. Founded in downtown Manhattan in 2002 by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who have since gone on to become designers-in-chief at the French fashion house Kenzo, Opening Ceremony quickly became a cult New York fashion hot spot, before opening up in Los Angeles and Tokyo. Now its sense of fun, individuality and style is coming to London, with a pop-up shop opening on King Street in July and a permanent store following in a larger unit on the same street later this year. As well as the brand’s own ready-to-wear and accessories lines, Opening Ceremony has become famous for its collaborative collections with other designers. The pop-up shop will be launching exclusive new pieces from the likes of Norma Kamali, Chloë Sevigny, House of Holland, Prism and Pamela Love, as well as a line of neoprene skirts and twin sets created in tandem with Topshop. But the collaboration most relevant to the brand’s name and the timing of its opening—just before the Olympics—is the playful, exuberant new Adidas x Opening Ceremony capsule collection, which draws on the prints, shapes and silhouettes of 1990s sportswear. It’s enough to give opening ceremonies a good name. 26 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
FREE TO ATTEND
What's On · Thai street food and sugar craft from Suda · 2000 free El Jimador tequila cocktails from the Cantina Laredo pop-up bar · Italian homemade lemonade and hog roast from Jamie’s Italian · Cream teas and strawberries with cream from Bill’s · Bombay chip butties from Dishoom · Wine tasting with Italian enoteca Dalla Terra · Mexican Mariachi band, traditional Thai dancers, ska band
For full information visit stmartinscourtyard.co.uk or follow us on twitter @smccoventgarden
Shopping & Lifestyle Banana Republic, Barbour, COS, The Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, DESA, DUO, Eileen Fisher, Hoss Intropia, Jack Wills, Jaeger London, Joules, L.K.Bennett, Massimo Dutti, Melvita, Pretty Ballerinas, relax, Specialized, Twenty8Twelve, The Watch Hut, The White Company, Yotopia Food & Drink Bill’s, Cantina Laredo, Crazy Bear Members’ Club, Dalla Terra, Dishoom, Jamie’s Italian, Suda.
LIFE IN BRIEF
Melvita 17 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard uk.melveta.com
NECTAR POINTS /Melvita
It has been just under a year since I first saw the bees belonging to the organic beauty store Melvita in St Martin’s Courtyard. Back then there were just two hives perched precariously on a rooftop, with not so much as a little pot of something to their name. Yet fast forward 10 months to today’s apiary and things are looking pretty sweet. This has become one of urban beekeeping’s great success stories, with a sell-out range of honey—“It was unbelievable. Half of them were pre-ordered and sold before they hit the shelves. The rest disappeared within two weeks,” Melvita’s marketing man Simon tells me—and a third hive in the pipeline. The hope this year is that they’ll produce more jars to meet the huge demand. By drawing the honey off at regular intervals rather than blending all of it together at the end of the season, supermarket style, Melvita ensures its honey reflects seasonal changes—to wonderful effect. Beekeeper Camilla explains: “Bees produce different types of honey according to which plants are in flower: apple and pear blossom in spring, right through to chestnut in autumn.” So what’s in store for those of us who, like me, think that honey is a dish best served in beauty products? Well, for starters there’s the Apicosma Ultra-Nourishing 28 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Body Balm and hand cream, which boasts a 3-Honey-Complex that is so effective it has a patent pending, having been clinically proven to target dry skin. As Simon says, “this is a clinical study. It’s not that ‘80 per cent of people have said it makes them feel better’ in a survey—it’s been proven.” “We’d had honey-based skincare products before of course, so we knew the glucose seals the moisture in the skin. We also knew that it smells nice to use. But we sort of felt like there were other things in honey we don’t know about yet, and we wanted to go to the next step—so we worked with scientists who had been screening skin exposed to negative influences such as UVA. As they were able to conclusively prove what happens at a skin level, we could take that technology and apply it to cosmetics.” The scientists agreed, and began by noting the healing and calming effects acacia honey had when applied to the skin. Melvita was thrilled—but wanted something more. “That was something other brands could do. We thought we could go one step better, and see if blending honeys together would be more potent,” says Simon. The result—a triumvirate of thyme, acacia and orange blossom—took even the researchers by surprise. Suddenly the combined effect of these three herbs could
be seen to be “regenerating cells, improving angiogenesis—the circulation of oxygen— and even thickening the cell walls so they could hold more moisture”. Now, of course, it’s part of a bestselling range. Yet if you thought that might be the end of it, you’d be seriously mistaking the company that, after all, takes its inspiration from the busiest creature in the animal kingdom. “There must be other combinations out there that work differently,” says Simon, dreamily, “and combinations of other plants too—with this sort of screening technology it doesn’t have to just be about honey.” Indeed, the system wasn’t even designed for examining honey: as Simon points out, it was originally used in cancer research to identify what parts of the genome are affected by carcinogens, before Melvita began using it for cosmetics testing. Melvita might be a skincare company, but its principles—and products—run deep. Which brings us back to the bees, whose new hive, new white fence and flower boxes are now gleaming brilliantly in the sunshine. It’s difficult to believe this is the same rooftop I saw last year. Yet as I look closer at their honeycombs and the energy and enthusiasm of those making them I realise Melvita’s secret is quite simple: it’s the life of bees.
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LIFE Laird London 23 New Row lairdlondon.co.uk
MY FASHION LIFE
/Alex Shaw, founder and director of Laird London
CGJ: Who are your hats for and where are they from? AS: We do primarily men’s hats, although most styles are fairly unisex—about 40 percent of our bowler hats are bought by women. We design 90 per cent of our own hats, and we only buy in choice brands if it’s something really specialist that would be made better elsewhere. What with all the patriotism going round at the moment, this must really be the year to be in hats. Did you expect this sort of popularity when you first started? I did think hats were popular and I knew people who loved hats never stop loving hats—but the industry itself has grown enormously since we began. We did the commentary for the Royal Wedding for French and Brazilian TV, and even now we get people who come to us specially after having seen that coverage. We’ve certainly been very busy this year. Don’t sales drop off in summer? No, we do well all year round, not least because tourists love it. You might expect that people only buy hats in winter, but if you don’t have any hair and the sun’s out your head gets absolutely skinned. On a hot day it can get really busy with men buying hats to protect their heads. That said, the shop is so small you only need four people there for it to feel rammed! Do certain types of people buy certain types of hat? I’ve learnt the hard way that everybody buys everything. For example, I made this hat and stuck it in the window in our pop-up shop in the City and almost immediately a guy walked in and said “I’ll have it”. It was a big, pimp-like hat costing £300 —he was a big chap from deep Yorkshire, the most unlikely candidate. Since then I have tried not to categorise. Your biggest claim to hat fame is probably being the milliner behind Rihanna’s white bowler hat in her music video for You da One. Have you dressed any other famous heads? Well, Jonathan Ross was looking in the shop with his wife last week, but then these guys down the end of road started shouting his 31 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
name and there was a bit of a stampede, so we lost out. It’s a shame, as there are so many hats that he would really suit. Still, we have had plenty of other celebrities. Kanye West has been a customer, and Yoko Ono, and we’ve had the manager of U2. He said he’d been in with Bono the other day— incidentally, on the day he’d been declared the richest pop star ever. You would have thought he could have bought a hat too. What hats are hot right now? We had this Benetton of hats idea, where we would branch out and do a range of bright colours. Of course browns and greys will always be bestsellers but these bright blue, green, and crimson trilbys are great. We have also had a very special collaboration with Ozwald Boateng, who we met when we did the hat commentary for the Royal Wedding. He was impressed by my wife’s hat, which I made, and we got chatting. Did you study millinery then? Yes, but not before working in nightclubs and care homes and being an editor. I studied classics and English literature at university and then did a Masters’. So how did you end up here? Well, it’s a long story. Basically after university I had an offer of funding for an MA and PhD. Unfortunately, while I got a lot of money, I also spent a lot of money. Pretty soon I had to get a job. I went into fine dining restaurants and got headhunted for a fancy nightclub then, when I finished my MA, my now wife, then friend, offered me a job as an editor. I did that for a year, then went into care homes where I worked until 2008— then, having just landed ourselves in the middle of a banking crisis, I thought it would be a great chance to go into retail and take advantage of low rates. I looked at lots of different things: initially I considered making my own coffee, but then I thought that hats would be good. So I trained as a milliner at the College of Fashion, opened a hat shop, started buying other brands, made my own hats as I started to learn the trade, and designed my own label, Laird’s of London. What was it about hats that appealed? I just really wanted to do something nice: a simple transaction where you could build up
a nice client base. After care homes, hats provided something of a catharsis. There’s no such thing as a hat emergency— I don’t get calls at two in the morning. I’m a lot broker, of course, but it’s a much nicer pace of life. I was frustrated at not having used my fine art skills, and now I really enjoy doing the window installations. I also love how peaceful millinery is. Life is so frenetic and busy and rushed with phone calls all the time, but when you’re making a hat you can’t do anything for the three or four hours you are making it other than sit there without distractions and work. Does every hat take that long to make? It depends how elaborate it is. More often than not if someone has asked for something specific then that is quite time consuming. If I’m making my own collection I hand-make the prototypes and then get them commercially copied. But whatever you’re making, it is labour intensive as every part is hand stitched. Do you wear hats yourself? I do for special occasions but I don’t wear them always on a day to day basis. I don’t know why. Some of our customers wear hats all day every day. My brother has worn a hat every day of his life. He’s in a band—that’s his life—but he’s always worked in men’s accessories on the side, and when we opened he begged me for a job. He’s been able to expand his collection considerably since. Why Laird London? Ah. Well, when I had more money I bought my brothers a lairdship up in Scotland. Just as a novelty thing, for Christmas. It means you’re laird of a piece of land. When we started the brand I wanted something very British, a bit quirky, so we called it Laird of Glencairn, which is what we are lairds of, and each of the shops has been ‘Laird’ something since. Do you have Scottish heritage then? Yes, actually, on my mother’s side—a big family of truckers. So they weren’t exactly of noble, landowning birth.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
/Rules bartender Chris Lacey talks to Sybil Kapoor about the fine art of cocktail making in one of the oldest restaurants in London
If you want to get a true sense of Englishness, where old meets new, Covent Garden is a good place to start. Rooted in 18th century traditions, it has retained its bacchanalian edge right up into the 21st century. Office workers, shop assistants and tourists may have replaced flower girls, fruit sellers and prostitutes, but otherwise, things continue in much the same vein. Chefs and kitchen porters clatter in basement kitchens, goods are delivered with lively London banter and people linger gossiping in doorways. As dusk falls there is a sense of anticipation for the night to come. High heels clip down the narrow lanes. Streets resound with laughter and the 32 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
clink of glasses. This is London, party capital of the world, and Rules restaurant, which opened here in 1798, has seen it all before. Yet even Rules subjects itself to the occasional change. In 2009, it opened a cocktail bar upstairs under the guiding hands of Brian Silva. Naturally, if you’re the oldest restaurant in London, you don’t want a stereotypical bar, or for that matter, a run-ofthe-mill bar tender. Were you to wander up the steep staircase into the bar, you might think yourself in a Cotswold pub for a moment, with its sloping, carpeted floor, latticed windows and hunting prints on the wall. A large Stilton, sitting on an old-fashioned trolley, confronts
you as you enter the room, and it is only when you’re properly inside that you notice the small neat bar tucked to one side of the door. An incredible array of bottles is arranged behind the bar. Read the unfamiliar labels and you realise that this is a serious bar. Listen to the chat and it becomes clear this is where bar colleagues hang out, confident that they will get a perfectly-made drink. For those in the know, Rules bar has become one of the places to drink cocktails in London. Naturally, you require the very best bartender/mixologist to run such a place. Chris Lacey, who took over from Brian as head bartender in January, is a self-taught cocktail
LIFE Rules Cocktail Bar 35 Maiden Lane 020 7836 5314 rules.co.uk
The Rose Maiden A Chris Lacey special to celebrate all things British and summery. Every gin has its own unique flavour and No.3 London Dry Gin is a particularly delicious gin made by Berry Bros.
Ingredients 15ml crushed crystallised rose petals 45ml No.3 London Dry Gin 10ml xrème de peche 10ml elderflower cordial 15ml fresh lemon juice.
Method Place plenty of ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add the ingredients, shake vigorously for a few seconds then strain into a cocktail glass and serve.
numerous creations, such as the Bramble (gin, lemon juice and crème de mure), the Vodka Espresso, and the Treacle (a rumbased Old Fashioned with a float of apple juice) were regularly hitting the headlines. As Chris recalls, “I took the best of Dick Bradsell by looking to see how he created balanced drinks by using simple flavours and complimentary flavours.” Such an understanding of how different ingredients can be combined to create sophisticated flavours that linger and develop on your palate takes years to develop. Gradually, Chris evolved his own style. His cocktails have a certain soft, lingering flavour. It is hard to describe, but utterly delicious. Take his dry martini: Chris uses a five to one ratio of No. 3 London Dry Gin to Dolin Vermouth de Chambery (both available from Berry Brothers). To this, he adds his magic ingredient, a few drops of Bitter Truth’s orange bitters. Once stirred over ice, he adds a twist of lemon zest. The resulting cocktail has the delicious fragrant dryness of a classic maestro who came into the profession almost dry martini. The orange bitters acts like a subtle seasoning. It plays with the fragrance by accident. “I used to be a DJ at Timepiece of the lemon zest and lengthens the flavour Night Club in Exeter, while working in an experience of the martini in your mouth, office during the day,” he says. “I got fed up without you being aware of the reason why. with the office work and got more involved You just have to take another sip. in the nightclub and ended up promoting its As Chris explains, “I think that orange bar. It had a capacity of over a thousand. I bitters were first used in a dry martini by realised that I really enjoyed it. Then about William Schmidt in his 1892 book The 14 or 15 years ago, I started working as a bartender at a boutique hotel in Exeter called Flowing Bowl. It’s all about proper grown up Hotel Barcelona. They had a little cocktail list drinking. You want to showcase the flavours of the spirits by adding nuances, so you need of about 10 classics and after a little while, to choose the right complimentary vermouth when I tasted them, I felt that they weren’t quite right. Then I came across Gary Regan’s and learn the right ratios. The same idea can be adapted to other classic recipes.” Bartenders Bible and started to change the He makes it sound easy, but in reality, it drinks I was serving.” takes time, experience and sensitivity create He began to collect old cocktail books. superb cocktails. Listening to Chris talk, I “Understanding the past allows you to find myself in an unfamiliar world of intriguing create the future,” Chris explains. “I can’t spirits from a vermouth called Visciolata, resist looking around secondhand book which is infused with sour cherries, to a 36 shops. “I recently found a 1934 edition of month barrel-aged tequila called Tapatio Jerry Thomas’s The Bartenders Guide: How Excelencia. to Mix Drinks in Pennsylvania for just $7.” “As you evolve as a bartender, you Jerry Thomas (1830-1885) was the first initially create drinks by adding eight or person to write down what up until then had nine ingredients,” he says. “You want to been verbal recipes for cocktails. taste everything in a drink and for all the “I started to develop the cocktail list and ingredients to work together, but with so expanded it to 25 drinks,” recalls Chris. At that time Dick Bradsell, who is widely credited many, it’s easy for some to be lost, so you start to make your recipes simpler and with changing the face of British cocktails in the 1980s and 1990s was really famous. His simpler. Eventually, you end up with about 33 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
three or four ingredients and that’s when subtle awareness of how best to make a drink comes in, because there is no hiding what’s in it.” In other words, a good bartender has to be sensitive to every aspect of the drink-making process, such as the sound and texture of liquid as it is mixed, shaken or muddled. It shouldn’t be too diluted or too frozen. When is a quick adjustment to the balance of flavours needed? Such skills can only be learned by experience. Then there is the question of reading your customer. “I usually start by asking them what spirit they like, what flavours they enjoy and whether they like a short or a long drink,” says Chris. “Then I’ll take a spirit and work in the flavour they like—it might be in the form of a sweetening agent such as a syrup or liqueur—then I’ll add a touch of citrus and a lengthening agent, such as soda or ginger ale, taking care to balance the sweetness with sourness.” Like many bartenders, he loves variations of aromatic bitter negronis, such as his summery Queen of Belize which is made from white port, Campari, Cinzano and Dubonnet. I suspect that many of the 18th century patrons of coffee houses would have approved of Rules cocktail bar. It is one of those rare places that welcomes everyone, from country cousins whose families have patronised Rules for generations to theatreloving groups of office workers who like to start a night out with pre-show drinks. There are gentlemen with their ‘ladies’, rumbustious media types, creatives who’ve dropped in for a gossip with their friends and business internationalistas who enjoy a pleasant drink at the bar. As I finish my dry martini, I ask Chris Lacey how he likes to be described? “What should I be called?” he muses. “Mixology is a term that comes from the 1860s, but I feel it’s only one small part of what we do. Looking after your guests is equally important. To me, bartender is a better description of what I am.” And his favourite drink? “To be honest, I love to sip a really good tequila.” He then tells me of a night out at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in Outer Richmond in San Francisco, where they have 350 tequillas stashed behind the bar. Like all good bartenders—Chris Lacey is good company as well as a brilliant cocktail maker.
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MA’AM BREADS The menu boasts some of the finest ingredients this country has to offer. Its co-founder is one of our best-loved chefs. It’s named after the national flag. In fact, almost everything about Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant Union Jacks is as British as can be but for one thing: it’s all based on flat breads. Jamie himself tells us more.
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CGJ: Despite the retro features, what you’re doing at Union Jacks—flatbreads with very British flavour combinations, somewhere between an open sandwich and a pizza—is not something we’ve ever seen before. Where did the idea come from? JO: A few years ago, I met this amazing chef called Chris Bianco. Chris owns a brilliant restaurant in Phoenix called Pizzeria Bianco. He’s basically a food geek like me, and he’s absolutely obsessed with dough and flour, so we got talking. Out of that conversation came the idea to combine Chris’s incredible dough with superb British ingredients to create something beautiful and delicious. And that’s what we did. Tell us about Chris. He’s a legend—just one of the loveliest, most generous and beautiful people on earth. We met about three years ago and really hit it off straight away. It started because we both have a love of woodfired cooking but, the more we talked, the more I felt I’d found a kindred spirit. Within a very short space of time, we were throwing around ideas for a new restaurant using wood-fired ovens and he just said, “Whatever you’re doing, count me in.” And that was that. There’s a massive emphasis on local ingredients at Union Jacks. How do the local ingredients available to a British chef compare to those of the rest of the world? We’ve got incredible ingredients in the UK. In fact, these days, there’s not much we can’t grow or produce here. What we’ve done with Union Jacks is really try to find the best pork, cheese, apples, sustainable fish and chillies in Britain—pretty much anything we could find that would create fantastic toppings for the flats. I think we’re very lucky to live in Britain with the variety of food on our doorstep. The growth of farmers’ markets and food fairs doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Do you see a bright future for small, specialist, high-quality producers, despite the continuing dominance of supermarkets? Obviously there are lots of people who always shop in supermarkets and that’s fine because they sell lots of great fresh produce—but there are also a lot of people 36 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Union Jacks unionjacksrestaurants.com
who love to root around in farmers’ markets and pick up a few special bits and pieces, so I think that as long as you’re selling what people want, and you’ve got a good attitude, people will come back again and again. We’re starting a little farmers’ market outside Fifteen restaurant in London, in fact. In amongst your very British ingredients, you’ve got chillies and Indian spiced chicken. Is curry as much a part of British cuisine now as roast pork and smoked fish? Absolutely. What I said in the Great Britain book is that we’re great at taking the best from other cultures and embracing it as our own. We’re like magpies in that respect. So curry has become a part of our British food identity. It’s great seeing English wines on your menu, and they seem to be cropping up more and more on winelists. What’s your take on the state of English winemaking? I think people often dismiss English wine, but there are some great producers out there and it has become really, really excellent over the last few years. It’s such a pleasure to have it on the menu. You’ve obviously done a lot in recent years to help young Brits find work in the restaurant sector. Does Union Jacks fit in with that philosophy? Sure. We do our best to employ locally wherever we open a restaurant, whether it’s Union Jacks or Jamie’s Italian. We just opened Union Jacks in Winchester and created 35 new jobs. We’re just about to open Jamie’s Italian’s in York, Edinburgh and Norwich, so that’s another 90 new jobs in each city, which hopefully is a bit of a bonus during a recession. You’ve got two restaurants in Covent Garden now, and the whole place is filling up with great places to eat. What’s your take on what’s happening to the area’s food scene? Covent Garden’s always busy and so as long as you’re offering something special, you’ll be busy. Our Jamie’s Italian is doing incredibly well there and I think there’s room for everyone to do well.
Chris owns a brilliant restaurant in Phoenix called Pizzeria Bianco. He’s basically a food geek like me, and he’s absolutely obsessed with dough and flour. The more we talked, the more I felt I’d found a kindred spirit.
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FEEDING FRENZY Not so long ago, Covent Garden was something of a culinary wasteland, defined by a small number of slightly tired high end restaurants living on former glories and a vast number of entirely mediocre tourist traps selling bad food for insultingly high prices. But in the past few years all that has changed, and the area has become one of the most interesting, diverse and vibrant places to eat and drink anywhere in London. Anyone in town for the Olympics would be well advised to spend a few days sampling its wares— just don’t try running afterward. THREE PLACES TO OVERDOSE ON MEAT 1—Hawksmoor Seven Dials The best steakhouse in London. Full stop. Extraordinary meat from the Ginger Pig, perfectly cooked and served with a choice of beef dripping or triple-cooked chips and even the odd green vegetable. 11 Langley Street thehawksmoor.com
2—Notes Notes founder Alan Goulden has three great loves—music, coffee and wine—and all three come together for this wine bar / coffee shop / music and film emporium. Pure bohemian heaven. 36 Wellington Street notesmusiccoffee.com 3—The 10 Cases The wine list here is a joy to behold, with 10 whites, 10 reds, and only 10 cases of each, carefully chosen to accompany the simple bistro food. 16 Endell Street the10cases.co.uk
2—Sophie’s Steakhouse As high on quality as it is low on formality, this New York-style steakhouse matches a warm, friendly atmosphere with some seriously good, perfectly aged, skilfully cooked cuts of prime British beef. 29-31 Wellington Street, Opera Quarter sophiessteakhouse.co.uk 3—Byron By using high quality British ingredients and cooking them with care and consideration, Byron managed to rescue the much-maligned hamburger from its sloppy fast food purgatory. 33-35 Wellington Street, Opera Quarter byronhamburgers.com
THREE PLACES TO MAKE US WISH WE WERE FRENCH 1—Les Deux Salons This stunning two floor building, with its leather banquettes, mosaic flooring and classic decor, would look at home in Paris. As would the food—robust French cooking; well sourced and well sauced. 40-42 William IV Street lesdeuxsalons.co.uk 2—Brasserie Blanc According to Raymond Blanc, if his Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is a delicate waltz then Brasserie Blanc is the can-can—simple, classic French food from one of the country’s top chefs. 35 The Market Building brasserieblanc.com
THREE PLACES TO OVER-INDULGE ON GREAT WINE 1—Dalla Terra With a name meaning ‘from the earth’, Dalla Terra combines simple Italian regional cuisine, based on seasonal produce, with over 180 Italian wines by the bottle and more than 30 by the glass. 25 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard dallaterra.co.uk
3—Côte Simple, robust French bistro food, accurately rendered and perfectly cooked, with a three course set menu available from midday-7pm for just £13.65—a genuine bargain for food of this quality. 17-21 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter cote-restaurants.co.uk
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THREE PLACES TO MAKE US GLAD THAT WE’RE BRITISH 1—Rules A place to party like it’s 1899, with perfect game, delicious oysters and a menu of age-old British classics, served in a room creaking under the weight of its extraordinary imperial grandeur. 35 Maiden Lane rules.co.uk
2—Great Queen Street Gutsy, stripped-back cooking, with a big emphasis on seasonal produce, under-appreciated ingredients and an ever-shifting menu—a perfect purveyor of unfussy British cuisine. 32 Great Queen Street 3—Bill’s A café and grocery store owned by a former greengrocer. Amazing breakfasts, proper tea and cake, simple but delicious lunches and the best fishfinger sandwiches you’ve ever eaten. St Martin’s Courtyard bills-website.co.uk THREE PLACES TO TAKE PLEASURE FROM SHARING 1—L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Extraordinary tapas-style dishes, perfect for sharing, from one of the greatest chefs in the world, all served in a quite stunning setting. 13-15 West Street joelrobuchon.co.uk 2—Opera Tavern Small tapas-style dishes from Spain and Italy, including amazing cheese and charcuterie, delicate seafood, simple vegetable dishes and succulent meats from the charcoal grill. 23 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter operatavern.co.uk
3—Terroirs Amazing French ingredients served up with the minimum of fuss on small plates designed to be shared. Perfect cheese and charcuterie and one of the most distinctive wine lists in London. 5 William IV Street terroirswinebar.com
THREE PLACES FOR A HOT DRINK AND A SUGAR RUSH 1—Ladurée The modern macaron—cool, sweet ganache sandwiched between two shells of crisp, delicate meringue —was invented in Paris by Ladurée in 1930. And the original is still the best. 1 The Market Building laduree.fr
2—Johnstons Johnston’s off the Strand offers impressive contemporary British food at unbelievably good value. The Olympicthemed Dine-Athlon menu offers three courses, wine and coffee for just £20.12. 2 Burleigh Street strandrestaurants.co.uk
3—MD’s If you wish that sandwiches could be more filling and less bread, MD’s Austrian-style open sandwiches, topped with attractive piles of high quality ingredients, could be your perfect lunch. 38 William IV Street mdssandwiches.co.uk
3—Spud The humble baked potato reinvented as a culinary treat, with fillings including pulled barbecue pork, Sicilian aubergine stew or slow-cooked lamb tagine. Enjoy a feed and a drink for less than a tenner. 26 New Row ilovespud.com
THREE PLACES TO ENJOY A TOUCH OF THE EXOTIC 1—Kopapa Beautiful, subtle and constantly surprising combinations of flavours and techniques from all around the globe courtesy of the fusion food genius Peter Gordon. 32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials kopapa.co.uk
THREE PLACES TO MAKE YOU GESTICULATE EXPRESSIVELY 1—Jamie’s Italian Jamie Oliver learnt to cook Italian food as a teenage apprentice in Covent Garden. He returns as a very famous grown-up with his deep-seated love of the nation’s cuisine still very apparent. 11 Upper St Martin’s Lane St Martin’s Courtyard jamieoliver. com/italian 2—Roast & Conch The skilled chocolatiers of Hotel Chocolat have opened a café in Seven Dials. Sup on a coffee or hot chocolate, watch the artisans at work, and eat your own bodyweight in fantastic chocolate. 4 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials hotelchocolat.co.uk 3—Primrose Bakery Simple, old fashioned baking— cupcakes, Victoria sponges, chocolate layer cakes, lemon drizzle loaves —all topped with perfect icing and delightful decorations. 42 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter primrosebakery.org.uk THREE PLACES TO HEAD TO IF THE SUN EVER SHINES 1—Icecreamists The self-proclaimed ‘Sex Pistols of ice cream’ serve up a scoop of high quality ingredients with a couple of scoops of wild inventiveness and a generous squirt of manic good humour. 33-47 The Market Building theicecreamists.com 2—Gelatorino Authentic Piedmontese gelato, made fresh each day using carefully sourced ingredients and a beautiful piece of classic Italian machinery. 2 Russell Street, Opera Quarter gelatorino.com
2—Rossopomodoro Proper Neapolitan pizza, with a naturally leavened dough base made from Caputo red quality flour and mineral water, topped with San Marzano tomatoes and other Italian ingredients. 50-52 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials rossopomodoro.co.uk
3—Scoop A beautifully unpretentious place, selling seriously good Italian gelato in a range of classic flavours—and the best milkshakes you can possibly imagine. 40 Shorts Gardens scoopgelato.com THREE PLACES TO SPEND REMARKABLY LITTLE ON EATING EXTREMELY WELL 1—Wahaca Thomasina Miers’s zingy, vibrant Mexican street food, bursting with flavour, packed with high quality ingredients and served in a busy, buzzy subterranean space, all at scrupulously fair prices. 66 Chandos Place wahaca.co.uk
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3—Da Polpo A pulsating version of a Venetian bacaro from Russell Norman’s growing stable of great central London restaurants, serving small, simple sharing plates in a buzzing, intimate, informal atmosphere. 6 Maiden Lane polpo.co.uk THREE PLACES TO BUY FOOD TO ENJOY ON A BENCH IN THE SUNSHINE 1—Battersea Pie Proper hearty British pies and pasties, made with flaky pastry, free range meat and lovely fresh vegetables. The mash alone—soft, creamy and moreish—is worth the trip. 28 The Market Building batterseapiestation.co.uk 2—Kastner and Ovens One of the best bakeries in London, selling an ever-changing smorgasbord of takeaway delicacies, with two hot dishes a day accompanying an array of pastries, pies and salads. And lots of cake. 52 Floral Street
2—Dishoom A Bombay-style café, offering mouthwatering grilled meats, aromatic biryanis and small plates of zesty, spicy snacks, perfect for sharing, all served up in atmospheric surroundings. 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, St Martin’s Courtyard dishoom.com 3—Suda A celebration of the bright, sharp flavours of Thailand, including an entire menu of Som Tum—a classic spicy papaya salad, the flavours of which are carefully blended with a pestle and mortar. St Martin’s Courtyard suda-thai.com ONE NOT REALLY JEWISH, BUT QUITE JEWISH, EATERY WHERE EAST END LONDON CAF MEETS NEW YORK DELI 1—Mishkin’s A ‘Jewish’ deli which is only kosher in the cockney sense of the word, and in fact sells pork hotdogs alongside its salt beef sandwiches. Amazing gin cocktails as well. Absolutely one of a kind. 25 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter mishkins.co.uk
O O L B M IN Shannon Denny quizzes Joanne Moore, the world’s only female Master Distiller and the brains behind Bloom Gin
In the time of the artist William Hogarth, the capital was gripped in the Gin Craze, a phenomenon that rivalled any modern drug epidemic for the damage it wrought on the lower classes of society. Hogarth’s famous 1751 print Gin Lane—showing the moral decrepitude brought on by consumption of the spirit—depicts the streets of St Giles at the north end of Covent Garden, then a notorious slum district. With its scenes of infanticide, hunger, insanity and suicide, Hogarth created the debauched vision of Gin Lane to be viewed alongside a companion print called Beer Street. In contrast to the vices that the artist suggested were the inevitable results of drinking gin, this second satirical piece promoted ale as the choice of industry, health, happiness and economic prosperity. The Gin Craze tapered off within the decade, thanks in large part to the Gin Act of 1751, which required licenses for anyone wishing to sell the drink. At the same time, 40 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
grain prices were on the rise so production became more expensive. And it probably helped that quality control regulations were put in place, so the likelihood of turpentine being mixed into your tipple—as has been the case in the height of the Gin Craze— were at last diminished. We’ve come a long way since those dark days, with gin well established as the drink of choice for everyone from urban hipsters to ageing aristos. And recently there’s been a bit of a resurgence in the genre, with new versions adding a bit of lip-smacking verve to your standard gin and tonic. Among this new guard is Bloom, which has the distinction of being created by the world’s only female Master Distiller, Joanne Moore of distillers Greenall’s. As the brains behind Bloom, she divides her time between Warrington and the distillery’s London HQ, which is aptly cited in Covent Garden’s Floral Street. She took a break from the stills to tell us about what goes into a bottle of Bloom...
CGJ: How did you come to be a Master Distiller? JM: I kind of fell into it just by being at Greenall’s. I’ve been working here 16 years. I worked with our previous head distiller and just fell in love with the whole world of making gin. I realised I had a talent for it so I thought, Great! You get to do something every day that you’re passionate about. How is gin made? Well all our gins are made to the ‘London dry’ traditional method, which dates back to the establishment of our company in 1761. So a London dry gin now means not a style of gin but the way you produce it. Ironically, it’s the way we’ve always been producing our gin. So what we do is we have our big or medium sized copper pot stills and we weigh out the different botanicals that we need. We place the botanicals in the copper pot stills with some grain spirit and some demineralised water. The spirit’s nice and pure and so is
TASTE Summer sipping Thirsty? When the sun gets high and the throat gets dry, you have two choices. Visit local bars and restaurants serving Bloom (such as Kopapa and Detroit). Or, take this recipe for Bloom, tonic and strawberries for a whirl.
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You’ll need: 50ml Bloom gin, four equally sized strawberries, a splash of tonic water and a handful of ice. Method: Pour the Bloom Gin into a Collins glass, followed by the strawberries, cut into quarters. Don’t muddle the fruit— instead top up with ice and pour in the tonic water.
it’s like being a chef in a kitchen and having lots of ingredients to use. But the important thing you always have to remember is we have to complement the juniper notes. If you smother the juniper, you’ve not got gin anymore, you’ve got flavoured vodka. But the choices are limitless. Bloom has seven botanicals. The first four are very much what you find in traditional gin: juniper, coriander, angelica and cubebs, a member of the black pepper family. Those four provide the base of the gin; the predominant aromas come from chamomile, pomelo and honeysuckle.
the water. Then we heat the still up. When we reach a certain temperature, the alcohol starts to boil. And when it does it takes all the beautiful volatile essential oils from the botanicals up in the vapour of the spirit. That will then travel up a column and goes over a swan neck, hits the condenser, which then converts it all back into liquid again. The first part of our distillation we don’t tend to keep, and that’s called the head. We don’t keep the latter part either, which we call the tail. We only keep the middle part, which I like to call the heart or the body or the soul. That’s the purest part, the bit that goes into bottling. What makes Bloom different? What will make all gins different are the botanicals. What I was trying to do when I was creating Bloom was to make a lighter more delicate gin than your traditional gin. So yes it has juniper notes in there— because it is a gin after all. We’re not a flavoured vodka by any means! But it has a light floral note; it’s slightly sweet, light and delicate. Legally, we only have to put juniper berries in it to make gin. After that, the world is your oyster. You can put whatever you like in there to give you your flavour profile. And that’s where the enjoyment comes in; 42 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
How did you arrive at your formula? I knew in my head that I wanted to create a light, floral gin. So I had the vision of an English country garden or a wildflower meadow. That was the inspiration. I wanted to go a little leftfield and try new things that hadn’t been used before, which is why I chose honeysuckle, an edible flower to provide beautiful sweetness and smoothness on the palate. The pomelo, a Chinese grapefruit, gives us an orange note. What kinds of mixed drinks are Bloom best suited to? Well the obvious one is gin and tonic—the ultimate cocktail. In our signature gin and tonic we serve it with strawberries—and not just because it looks pretty! The inspiration behind Bloom is obviously about the garden, so there’s a connection there because strawberries grow in the garden and have this English connotation. But the main thing is that the sweetness of the strawberries really complements the citrus and floral notes in Bloom. Other than that, I always say to mixologists you have to treat Bloom carefully; she’s like a sophisticated lady. You have to be very delicate—don’t put anything there that’s going to overpower it. Let the spirit shine through. Elderflower or grapefruit works really well, or anything in the citrus family. But I quite like mine in straight gin martinis!
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Clare Finney v isit s
the new e erra, no T tec lla a D
he show s of t tar es Like almost everything, the name Dalla Terra sounds a great deal better in Italian than it does in English—from the earth. The concept—an ‘enoteca’, or ‘wine library’— sounds better too. Yet there’s no denying that this blunt-sounding translation does cut to the heart of what the three friends behind Dalla Terra are aiming for—fine Italian wines sourced directly from producers and served with honest explanations and good food. “It started with us in a vineyard,” explains co-founder Giuseppe. The motive was simple: “We’d spent every holiday touring vineyards, and had gleaned a lot of knowledge.” Yet what made the Dalla Terra founders different was that they focused purely on Italy and the small scale producers they had visited. “There were places around that gave attention to French or international wine but very few places focused on Italian wines, and even fewer that focused more on wine than food.” As Giuseppe points out, the only way in the past you could experience fine Italian wines in the UK was to go to a fancy restaurant. “If you want to just have a glass of wine and you go to a pub the choice will be disappointing, but the only alternative is to commit to a restaurant menu and price, which can be quite stiff.” His solution was to set up a bar where the wine came first, and the food, while superb, came close behind it. Wine could be enjoyed at home, or sold with corkage by the bottle or the glass. Hence the name, wine library—a reference not only to the range of wines, but also to the layout which consists of long, wooden shelves replete with bottles in varying shades of white and red. Each one is 45 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Y L D H E T
an e Itali wines a r e her th aw
Dalla Terra 25 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard dallaterra.co.uk
lovingly labelled, and the staff will gladly take time to tell you more about their heritage and taste profile. The best way to select wine at Dalla Terra is to defer to their expertise. When I first went with two girlfriends we were treated to a tasting menu—five courses and wine to match it—and with each new arrival came an impassioned description from Giuseppe detailing who made it, and where they were from. “This wine I import it directly,” he says, brandishing a colourfully labelled red, “and if you look at the label it is sort of harlequinlike, because this wine is actually made out of 15 different varieties.” The taste is extraordinary, but the story is even more so: a wine consultant who after several years spent mapping the best single varieties of grape in the best vineyards in the area, decided to press them and mix them all together himself. “He goes to each producer, buys the grapes and dries them for three to six months so there is a lot of concentration,” explains Giuseppe, “but at the same time it stays very, very fresh.” Like most reds it’s ideal with meat. However the presence of a few white grape varieties means it marries well with marinated fish— as, with the graceful arrival of our second course, we soon find out. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The all important first step is a glass of pink prosecco—officially to “clear the palette”, unofficially because it’s Thursday and we’re girls. It’s cold and fizzy, but it’s also delicately flavoursome, an unusual quality which goes nicely with the crostini di puré di ceci e mascarpone con baccalà mantecato (that’s chickpea and mascarpone purée and
salt cod on toasted bread to you and me). “If that’s the appetite whetter,” I say, “it’s definitely working.” The marinated hake on roasted peppers is a dish whose simplicity and flavour encapsulates the “La Cucina Povera” philosophy on which Dalla Terra’s menu is based. “It’s basic cooking,” translates Giuseppe. “It’s quite healthy, but the main thing is it’s produced with the environment in mind, as well as the lifestyle and livelihoods of the producers”—artisans devoted to their craft whose skills have often been handed down from generation to generation. Many of the products Dalla Terra uses are certified by Slow Food, a movement which started with one Italian chef’s objection to fast food, and ended up active in over 150 countries. The products are produced sustainably and on an unusually small scale. “In the 1980s the industrialisation of agricultural products took over and we all went for the cheap stuff. I think there is a realisation now we need to go back.” Dalla Terra, it seems, isn’t just a name. It’s a philosophy. I could go on, and describe to you the tender pork fillet, the baked ricotta, the cheeses. I could talk about the dessert wine, and its happy marriage with the dark chocolate terrine. But the beauty about it being ‘from the earth’ is that it’s seasonal produce that’s always changing. Like everything in nature, you’ll understand it better if you experience it yourself.
TASTE IN BRIEF
A heady mix London Cocktail Week—one of the UK’s biggest drinks festivals—returns in the autumn and will this year be based around Seven Dials. The festival, which runs from Monday 8th to Sunday 14th October, will have its own shop in the
area, which will provide a central point for collecting wristbands and scheduling activities. Covent Garden’s luxury hotels, underground bars, retail spaces and members clubs will be buzzing with tastings, masterclasses, pop up shops and cocktail parties, while London
CRUMBS OF COMFORT
The Red Gingham Bakery The Real Food Market Every Thursday (11am-7pm) East Piazza
/Jayne Arthur of The Red Gingham Bakery Where does your love of baking come from? As a family we’ve always been into good food and have always cooked fresh. Even pasta sauces are made from scratch—we’ve never bought jars. My mum was a cookery teacher at a school and always instilled in us that we should have five basic dishes to cook from a young age. As a child I was always at my mum’s knee, rolling out dough with her and making bread, so it’s just part of my life. And that’s what we’ve done with our children. My granddaughter is the same— she always wants to cook with us. It’s in her blood as well. Have you always worked in food? I used to be in the investment world, up in the City. I was a design manager for 26 years, in charge of all the brochures and literature, the whole brand, everything to do with the printing for the investment company. I did the actual design. I also took an interior design course at night school, so I’ve always been a creative person. Why did you leave the corporate world? I wanted my life back, because they actually own you—you are out of the house a good 12, 14 hours a day. And I lost a good friend very early, she was only 40, and that made me realise there is more to life than money. I left the company in December 2011. I was cooking quite a lot at home, just because I had the time. My youngest son works for a recruitment agency in Farringdon, and when he took in some of my cakes his colleagues told him, “Your mum should do this for a living. Tell her to go to Covent Garden.” That spurred me on. I started doing local farmers’ markets and when my confidence grew I decided to apply for a stall here at the Real Food Market. And why cakes? They make people happy. We’ve come up with quite a unique concept. I was thinking about elderly people—they like cake, but buying a whole one from a supermarket can be so wasteful for them, so I decided to do mini loaf cakes that you can either have just for yourself or else share with one other person. That’s how it started really. I imported the mini loaf tins from America, because it’s not something we really do over here. 46 Covent Garden Journal Issue 15 Spring 2012
Cocktail Week’s vintage Routemaster buses will be offering free transport out to any participating venues beyond staggering distance of Covent Garden. So sign up online, reserve your wristband in advance and we’ll see you there. sevendials.co.uk
icing. Our double chocolate fudge cake is really popular with children, because we decorate it with homemade chocolate shirt buttons. We do a coffee cake that is actually made with espresso coffee and has a mascarpone cheese and coffee icing, decorated with a walnut caramelised in toffee. We do a sticky ginger cake, which always appeals to the Chinese—for some reason that’s their favourite cake—and a banana cake. And every Thursday morning I bake fresh scones, both fruit and strong cheddar cheese ones. We sell our crème brulee tarts for 50p each. People usually take one away in a napkin and then return to buy four more. And we also do French macarons.
Who else is involved? It took off so well that my son Aaron decided to give up his job, and now we’re doing it together. Aaron is a very good baker. We do all the baking at my home in Wallington, Surrey. I love watching customers trying to choose a cake and then asking me which one is the best? But I can’t answer that—it’s what you fancy at the time. Which are the most popular cakes on the stall? Our most popular is the lemon drizzle, which is made using organic unwaxed lemons. If you buy lemon drizzle cake from a supermarket it’s often got superficial icing on top, and that’s it, just sponge underneath. But ours is actually a lemon drizzle—it drizzles everywhere. The Victoria sponge is really popular with the tourists. They’re over here on holiday and want to try British things, so they always ask me which one is the most British cake? We make our Victoria sponge for lots of weddings now and many people give us private orders to do vintage afternoon teas. The Victoria sponge is made using a secret recipe and I’ve never tasted a better one. Take me through the rest of the range. We do a carrot cake with a cream cheese
What is the secret to a great cake? Do you know what? If you’re not in a good mood then you won’t get a good cake. They know. I believe you’ve got to take pleasure in it. We just like making people happy. And you’ve got to make sure your ingredients are measured well. Just what is it about the British and cakes? I don’t know whether it is just the British. I thought it was until I started working at Covent Garden. I’ve now met so many people from countries that don’t usually do a lot of cakes, but who want to share the experience of the British, because they know we love cakes. How are you enjoying life at the Real Food Market? We absolutely love it. We love hearing the opera in the background, the different singers and the buzz. And the customers are interested in what we’re doing, and want to talk to us about it. I’ve swapped my email address with tourists, because they want me to send them a recipe. So, yes, I just love the buzz of the place. To drive over Waterloo Bridge in the morning and see the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, the sun coming up, it just makes you feel so good. And do you miss the corporate world? No! I miss my work friends and I miss drinking champagne every week, say, but no. I just want my life now.
TASTE Raw deal Steak tartare is the dish that tends to separate Francophiles from Little Englanders. Consisting of finely chopped raw beef topped with a raw egg, it is— depending upon your viewpoint—either the perfect showcase for the rich flavours
of good meat and the subtle art of seasoning, or it’s a pile of perfectly nice ingredients in dire need of an oven. If you sit in the former camp, Mon Plaisir, one of London’s oldest and most revered French restaurants, is hosting a monthly steak tartare masterclass, run by owner Alain
Lhermitte or head chef Frank Raymond. For just £29.50, you’ll get a cookery lesson, a glass of champagne, a starter and dessert, and the lovely, meaty main course that you’ve lovingly created with your own fair hands. monplaisir.co.uk
MeatMarket Jubilee Market Hall themeatmarket.co.uk
PLEASURES OF THE FLESH /MeatMarket /Coffee column
For Yianni Papoutsis the past few years have been quite a trip—from mobile burger van driver to festival circuit regular to pop-up restaurant specialist to established restaurateur to bona fide fast food magnate. And the entire journey has been based on the seemingly accurate premise that burgers and hotdogs are, when treated with respect and imagination, the finest Knowing this to be a special Olympic must choose the odd one out in a set of goddamn foodstuffs on the planet. edition of the Journal, I racked my brains three filter coffees, with eight sets per Yianni started making and selling his for any connection between coffee and round against the clock. After last year’s famous meaty treats in 2009 from a van the Olympics. Some lazy journalism—ie a controversy where the World Champion known affectionately as the Meatwagon, quick trawl through the internet—reveals apparently won just by looking at the two links. One: overexcited journalists have coffees, the rules now state that at least two which he parked up in carparks and industrial estates across London and drove a tendency to refer to the World Barista of the three cups must be tasted. Ahem. from festival to festival. Having built a vast Championships as the Coffee Olympics; 3—The World Latte Art Championship. A following of protein-loving party people, and two: the perplexing information that competition for baristas to show off their he teamed up with booze specialist Scott caffeine may or may not be banned by the abilities in drawing designs with milk in Collins to create a restaurant, MeatLiquor, IOC. It appears that while it is generally espresso based drinks. This may seem which opened in Marylebone last year and accepted that caffeine has some frivolous, but in fact demonstrates real performance enhancing effects on the body, skill in the finer points of coffee preparation has had queues flowing out of its doors ever since. The pair’s latest venture is no-one can decide whether this is a Good or techniques. Or as the official blurb puts MeatMarket—a proper fast food joint in Bad Thing in sport and consequently keep it, the competition “highlights artistic Covent Garden market, complete with changing their minds. expression in a competition platform that service counter and plastic trays—selling challenges the barista in an on-demand The closest actual link between the many of the fleshy delights that caused performance”. Olympics and coffee in reality is the those queues to form, plus a few extra 4—The World Coffee Roasting various cafés around the Olympic Park and calory-rich treats. Their offerings include Championship. This is the newest venues, which will no doubt do a roaring competition for artisanal coffee roasters to the Dead Hippie burger, the Black Palace trade should the weather continue to display their skills in assessing and roasting burger, the Phillie Cheesesteak and some be so grim. But it may surprise some to outrageously good hotdogs including one coffee and, as such, hasn’t actually been know that the coffee world is no stranger that comes wrapped in bacon. Other treats held yet. Surely it’s only a matter of time to competitive events of its own, having include Poppaz—deep fried jalapeno before we see such competitions on the instituted various competitions to promote telly. I don’t know about yourselves, but I can peppers filled with cream cheese. the pursuit of quality in coffee. Aside This is not a place to visit every day—only hardly wait for IronRoaster!... from the aforementioned World Barista a large carnivorous mammal could possibly Championships, just a few that you may, or hope to digest that much meat and animal And as for the so called ‘Coffee Olympics’, may not, have heard of are: fat on a regular basis. But for all its artery while I can admire a well turned out hardening badness, MeatMarket really is espresso and beautifully crafted Signature 1—The Cup of Excellence. Each of 11 terrifyingly good. participating countries hold this competition Drink, I really don’t think that a genuine parallel can be drawn between mastering annually to discover the best coffee from the bean and running the 100m in 9.69 that year’s harvest. The winners are seconds in Beijing. Call me a pedant if you auctioned on the internet, often selling for will... fantastic prices and are well worth a punt if you come across one in a café. 2—The World Cup Tasters Championship. A time trial competition where coffee tasters
/Angela Holder finds some tenuous links between coffee and the Olympics
47 Covent Garden Journal Issue 15 Spring 2012
TASTE IN BRIEF
Petit France When Raymond Blanc—possibly the most French Frenchman on the planet— opens a restaurant designed to bring the best of Gallic regional cuisine to the British public, you can be confident that the results will be a true reflection of his
home country’s famous fare. Authenticity is always a tricky subject, especially in a nation where blood has been spilled over the precise definition of a boeuf bourguignon, but these products of Raymond’s own collection of classic recipes, partly inspired by his mother’s
cooking, couldn’t be more French if they tried. Fusion food this isn’t. Brasserie Blanc, attractively located within the Market Building, provides note-perfect brasserie food at accessible prices— enough to make even a Parisian smile. brasserieblanc.com
THE LADYCHILLER / Rose petal ice cream from The Icecreamists
At the end of May Matt O’Connor, the ice cream provocateur and founder of The Icecreamists, launched his first book through Octopus Publishing. The Icecreamists: Boutique Ice Creams and Other Guilty Pleasures to Make and Enjoy at Home, is described as “one part strongly worded confessional, one part ice cream bible and one part ‘lictionary’”. The book features over 80 ice creams, vice creams and other guilty pleasures, accompanied by stunning photography by Anders Schonnemann, plus outrageous personal anecdotes about their conception by the author himself. But O’Connor’s book actually reveals the craft behind all the hype and headlines, and closely guarded recipes are now revealed for the first time. This includes the recipe for the infamous Baby Gaga breast milk ice cream. When it was launched, Baby Gaga ice cream was initially banned by Westminster Council and also attracted the attention of pop-megastar Lady Gaga, who threatened to sue over the name. Baby Gaga is available once again at The Icecreamists’ Covent Garden store until the end of August. Matt O’Connor may soon find himself in hot water with the Catholic Church. To coincide with the new book, The Icecreamists has launched a gun-shaped popsicle, dubbed the Vice Lolly, consisting of one part mind-bending 80 per cent absinthe to three parts water from a spring in Lourdes, which many Catholics believe has miraculous healing powers. “There’s a big question mark over the reality of holy water and whether it is really any different from normal water,” says Matt, who was born into a Catholic family. “Whether it heals or not, at Lourdes they don’t give it away for free. They sell holy water for 100 euros a litre—which I think is very expensive.” This recipe is for rose petal ice cream. Matt made his first-ever for a photo shoot. “Somehow a catfight between two models escalated into a full-blown ice cream fight in lingerie,” he says. “Given that our virgin batch of ice cream was being thrown, catapulted and smeared around our brand new ice cream bar, I summoned vast reserves of Churchillian determination to separate the two ladies. After some covertly recorded footage made it onto YouTube, this ice cream became an instant best seller.”
48 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
TASTE Squared up Tuttons has long been one of London’s best-positioned restaurants, right in the heart of the Piazza, with fantastic views out across the square. And like the Piazza, which has undergone a significant transformation over the past
couple of years, Tuttons has been busy updating and improving its offering, with a new look and an exciting Englishaccented menu. As befits an area which for centuries hosted one of London’s major food markets, the new menu draws inspiration from seasonal produce and
The Icecreamists Global Food Festival 33-47 The12-5pm Market Building 14th July, theicecreamists.com
traditional British ingredients such as pressed Sussex ham hock, Yorkshire black pudding and Shetland mussels. The restaurant will incorporate a number of award-winning English wines including Nyetimber Classic Cuvee. tuttons.com
St Martin’s Courtyard Global Food Festival Saturday 14th July stmartinscourtyard.co.uk
THE WORLD ON A PLATE
/ St Martin’s Courtyard Global Food Festival Ingredients 250ml full-fat milk 125ml double cream 2 egg yolks 88g caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 100ml rose water Edible rose petals, to decorate Method Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until pale and slightly fluffy. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow to boil. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and rose water. Pour the mixture back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature. For more rapid chilling, half-fill a sink with cold water and ice and place the bowl of mixture in it for 20 minutes. Never put the hot mixture into the fridge. Once cooled, cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight, but at least for 6 hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 4C). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the churning is completed, use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice cream into a freezer-proof container with a lid. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least 2 hours). Decorate each portion with edible rose petals before serving. 49 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
It’s tempting here to simply write “there’s a free food festival in Covent Garden!” and leave it at that. After all, the chances are that on that tenuous basis alone most of you will attend. Yet to do so would be to do a great injustice to a festival comprising six cuisines, cucumber sandwiches and more ‘Lime Paloma’ El Jimador tequila cocktails than you can shake a maraca at—so in order to whet your appetite even further, we should explain. St Martin’s Courtyard has become something of a tardis of taste in recent months —and to celebrate, is hosting a Global Food Festival on Saturday 14th July. As of midday, all six restaurants in the square—Bill’s, Cantina Laredo, Dishoom, Dalla Terra, Jamie’s Italian and Suda—will be replete with tastings, demonstrations and activities: even organic beauty brand Melvita will be bringing something to the table, in the form of an urban smoothie bike. Gym bunnies will jump at the chance to cycle up their own smoothie: those of a more alcoholic inclination might wish to head to Dalla Terra for wine tasting, or to gourmet Mexican Cantina Laredo’s pop up cocktail bar. First though, I strongly suggest you line your stomach with a signature dish or two from one of the many stalls—or in Bill’s
case, market barrow—that will be filling the square with a smorgasboard of scrumptious global fare. Over at Bombay café Dishoom this will appear as vada pau—Bombay’s answer to the chip butty—accompanied by Indian tipples. For Jamie’s part, he (or rather his chefs) are opting for a crowd-pleasing combination of hog roast and homemade Italian lemonade. Enjoy on the al fresco terrace, complete with plant pots, or head to rice bar Suda for something spicier, like satay or Thai fishcakes. Either way, you should not miss Suda’s Thai dancer, sugar animal workshops, and puppeteers. These performances will be joined by a Mexican mariachi band, a wine seminar and a five piece sca band, courtesy of Bill’s café—another watering hole whose range of delicacies have to be eaten to be believed. As you’d expect from somewhere called Billl’s, these will be splendidly British: strawberries and cream, marmalade, chutneys, cucumber finger sandwiches, tea and other delights that could almost make you feel patriotic, were you not at a global food festival, actively appreciating all the cultural diversity that London brings.
50 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Chair of the Cultural Olympiad Tony Hall tells Viel Richardson how a little-heralded aspect of London 2012 could leave the largest Olympic legacy of them all
51 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
THE CULTURAL OLYMPIANS
When Princess Anne stood up on 6th July 2005 to begin the final presentation to the International Olympic Committee of what would be London’s victorious bid for the games, it was with the intention of delivering a number of commitments which went well beyond the efficient hosting of a sporting event—there was a promise to involve and inspire children, and plans for a deep and lasting legacy which would flourish long after the Olympic circus had rolled on to the next host city. One aspect which received little coverage—probably because no-one really understood the concept—was the promise of a Cultural Olympiad. This was an undertaking to use the galvanising effect of hosting an Olympic Games to create cultural events every bit as impressive as those taking place on the sporting arena. As the Olympic and Paralympic Games draw ever nearer, and that cultural festival begins to build to a climax, Tony Hall, chair of the Cultural Olympiad Board, is in the perfect position to give an overview of how the project has evolved—and it has evolved into something very big indeed. Over the past few years, 16 million people across the country have taken part in or attended Cultural Olympiad performances, more than 169,000 have attended over 8,300 workshops and more than 3.7 million have been involved in nearly 3,700 Open Weekend events. That’s an awful lot of people engaging with an awful lot of culture. “A Cultural Olympiad is a four year programme of culturally inspired events that excites, inspires and brings together communities, young people and those not yet part of the cultural life,” a bright eyed and enthusiastic Tony tells me, sitting in the office of his ‘day job’ as chief executive of the Royal Opera House. Tony and his team felt very strongly that there needed to be a clear culmination to the Cultural Olympiad in order to focus attention on its achievements. He believed that while the Cultural Olympiad programme had done extraordinary things involving millions of people, it is easy to get used to a four year rolling event. Thus the London 2012 Festival was born. “I believed that a festival beginning on 21st June and ending after the Paralympics would be something that people could really get their heads around,” Tony explains. “What excites me is that we have an opportunity here that is genuinely once-in-alifetime. The art, the culture and the creative industries in this country are absolutely extraordinary. In my opinion London is the creative capital of the world, so for us to use the Olympics to focus the world on that 52 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
is really important. There are going to be 40,000 journalists watching what we do. This is an amazing opportunity for us to show the world what we are really good at, what we have a gift for.” Tony tells me about his chance meeting on a British Council trip to Lagos with Wole Oguntokun, a Nigerian playwright/director, who is now bringing a Yoruba production of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale to the festival. This, he says, is an example of the strong bonds that culture allows Britain —and London in particular—to form with the global community. These cultural bonds will see the Globe Theatre stage Shakespeare’s plays in 37 languages during the festival. It is a level of connectivity that Tony believes isn’t possible in many cities—even capital cities—around the world. As befits the day job, Tony is very much at home in the world of high culture, and there is an obvious relish when he talks about an exhibition by David Hockney or the upcoming works of such luminaries as Pina Bausch, Elizabeth Streb and Yinka Shonibare. Then there are performers with a wider public profile, such as Damien Hirst, Damon Albarn, Jay Z, Simon Rattle and many, many more. So many in fact that the Festival 2012 brochure is 140 pages long. The Opera House is of course hosting several festival events. There will be the Trojans—three extraordinary ballets designed in collaboration with three Turner prize winning artists. There is a day when youth is being given free range on the stage under the direction of choirmaster Gareth Malone. For the first time ever the Opera House stage is being given over to Streetwise Opera, many of whose members have experienced homelessness. After that the venue will host the International Olympic Committee protocol event, welcoming heads of state and IOC dignitaries, for which the Opera House is providing around 25 minutes of entertainment. “Then we become the Olympic museum,” Tony tells me. “This will be the place to come to see, medals, torches, the history of the Olympics and Paralympics. I’m looking forward to the Olympics, but I’m really looking forward to the Paralympics enormously. I have a real admiration for the people involved in putting it on. For me that has been one of the journeys of this process, getting to know them and what motivated them, and it has been really powerful.” As Tony sits across from me, a blizzard of names, events and locations trip lightly off his tongue. But it’s when he talks about the potential impacts of the project that Tony is suddenly leaning forward in his chair. “Lives can be thoroughly transformed by
finding whichever art connects with you,” he says. “Young people from some extremely difficult backgrounds are getting involved. They can find something, be it music, dance, art—whatever it is—and think, I can do this. I see this over and over. They find a focus and direction, something they can really commit to, and I think that this is phenomenally important. It needs repeating and repeating. These projects change lives. Many of us can go to see a performance and it connects with us and moves us—but the impact on a young person who suddenly discovers a sense of what they are is transformative. I hope that at the end of the Cultural Olympiad, more of us get that, because more of us need to get it. The arts and culture are not a nice thing to have, they are a necessity.” A couple of days after this interview, Tony is off to visit just the kind of project he has been talking about. In Stirling, Scotland, one of the world’s great conductors Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra
ARTS London 2012 Festival festival.london2012.com
Globe Head Ballerina by Yinka Shonibare, a sculpture installed on the wall of the Royal Opera House as part of the London 2012 Festival Previous spread: Damon Albarn’s Doctor Dee, showing at the London Coliseum
are set to perform on the opening day of Festival 2012 with the Big Noise Orchestra, which is made up of children and young adults from the Raploch Estate in a poor area of Scotland where there are few opportunities to inspire young locals. “This is a difficult place to come from, and there is a lot of hardship here but music is working with these young people,” Tony tells me. “It has been amazing watching the event grow as word has spread and different organisations have wanted to get involved. It is now being broadcast on BBC4. It is going to be an unforgettable one for those involved. I hope those are the kind of memories that the whole project has generated and will continue to generate across the country.” As well as having a transformative effect on various parts of society, Tony is also seeing the Cultural Olympiad having a galvanising effect on the cultural community itself. On a recent trip to Northern Ireland to launch several festival projects local 53 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
London is the creative capital of the world, so for us to use the Olympics to focus on that is really important. There are going to be 40,000 journalists watching what we do. This is an amazing opportunity for us to show the world what we are really good at
organisers were already talking among themselves about ideas for their own events. “While I was there people were telling me, ‘We have suddenly decided to do this big festival in Belfast or Enniskillen or something on the Giants Causeway. This project has actually made us think about how we can really celebrate some great things in Northern Ireland.’” Tony recalls. “I went to Shetland for a festival event there where the Royal National Scottish Orchestra was doing a residency, and they had brought together players from several of the outer Shetland Islands, something which hadn’t been done for over 20 years. The Shetlands also have the wonderful Screenplay film festival which this year is travelling around the UK, going as far south as Cornwall. So Shetland, which is one of the remotest parts of the country will be having an effect on the whole of the UK, and this is brilliant. And I think that could only happen in 2012.” “Another thing I hope will be a lasting legacy,” Tony continues, “is something that I see as I travel around the place working on this. It is seeing different groups talking about projects that they can do together in a way that they haven’t done before. For example at the Opera House we are talking to the National Gallery and we now have a tie-in linking the Titians they hold with a series of ballets we are commissioning. Those conversations have never happened before.” On his first night off in September, after the festival finally comes to an end, Tony thinks he’ll have a snooze, or maybe reach for one of the unopened DVDs building up at home. After that it’s on to what might just be the most important duty of his time as the Cultural Olympiad chair. “I think that remarkable things have been achieved across the country through the Cultural Olympiad and I think the job in the autumn is to take a really close look at what has been achieved. In terms of participation, audiences, a wide range of things,” Tony says with a sudden edge of intensity to his tone which betrays his real commitment to the idea. “I want to be able to clearly demonstrate to people what can be done when you pull communities together, when you make a big statement. I really want to make sure that message gets out.” So while like the rest of us Tony will be marvelling to the athletic feats of the Olympians and Paralympians later this summer, I suspect that his real hopes for the event are somewhat different. For Tony and the Cultural Olympiad team, true success will come through the central message of the Princess Royal’s speech—having an impact which lasts long after the dust has settled on some soon to be famous finals.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN While the actors tread the boards, behind the scenes thereâ€™s a world of quiet professionalism, carefully choreographed activity and suppressed giggles. Stevie Martin spends an evening enjoying the camaraderie backstage at The Woman in Black 54 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
55 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
I’m heading down a dark stairway, creeping underneath the stage and along a lowceilinged, claustrophobic and cobwebbed passage about a metre away from a rapt 405-strong audience, and I really need to cough. “This is it,” Sophie, the assistant stage manager at The Woman in Black— one of the most terrifying stage productions in the world—whispers in my ear. What’s “it”? Why is it getting darker? Is there any feasible way of coughing silently? I decide to hold my breath and the auditorium follows suit, falling deathly silent as the lights ominously fade to pitch black and Sophie’s words are barely breathed in my ear: “I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.” Forget Daniel Radcliffe—this is the original adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel, now in its 23rd year. It follows old Arthur Kipps (David Acton) who, in his youth, touched on something dreadful while visiting an empty house to sort the affairs of its deceased tenant. With the help of a young actor (Ben Deery), Kipps reenacts events from his past in a desperate attempt to exorcise his demons. An hour earlier, while waiting for the show to open, Ben, David, Sophie and stage manager Sarah are explaining their tendency to jump out at each other, squirt water pistols and don fake plastic boobs. “The boobs come out when we’re desperate for a bit of entertainment,” Sophie grins. “It’s usually the end of the week when we’re tired and hysterical.” She shows me a Youtube video they’re all currently obsessed with to the extent that, during yesterday’s show, David was worried he’d start laughing. Obviously, as a consummate professional, this didn’t happen. The video involves an otter dubbed with a human voice looking for his mate Steve. “Steve!” David impersonates, as Sophie and I wander around the stage, checking everything is in the right place, “Steve! Steve! Steve!” A call from Sarah, the stage manager, indicates we’re not far off starting. Top hats, a whisky bottle, manuscripts, coats and various oddments are labeled and waiting on an old table in the small side wings. In fact, everything is charmingly cramped— the stairwells are narrow and winding, the green room tiny and the ceiling low. You’d be forgiven for confusing this with a Fringe production, especially with the really rather accomplished David (whose career has encapsulated everything from the RSC to Eastenders) robustly pretending to be an otter right up until the audience fall silent. It’s at this point my desire to cough first surfaces—Sophie offers me a Softmint, ever prepared. 56 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
ARTS The Woman in Black Fortune Theatre Russell Street thewomaninblack.com
Sophie’s job is to torch the actors on and off stage, help with sound effects and make sure Ben and David have everything they need. She swaps David’s coat, catches a dustcloth and sorts Ben’s waistcoat out— both use those seconds to comment on today’s audience (“They seem quite lively”) before heading back out again. “Actors love reactions—except coughing; they usually complain if there’s a lot of coughing...” Sophie pauses as the audience break into laughter and I suck harder on the Softmint. “It’s going to be a good one; they’re being quite vocal early on which bodes well for when it all kicks off.” Sarah, who sits in a tiny chair cueing the lighting and sound effects surrounded by soft toys and obscene poems tacked to the walls, will file a report detailing any bizarre audience reactions at the end of each show. “We get people laughing or screaming in weird places, yelling ‘don’t go in there’ and, of course, those who swear loudly,” she grins. “Ben and David love that.” The crew love working with the actors. “It’s the nicest place I’ve been,” Sophie tells me, having previously worked only on West End musicals such as Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Fame, Hair and Billy Elliot (good going for a 26-year-old). “It’s such a small cast—if they were a nightmare it’d be a completely different ballgame. But as it turns out, this doesn’t really feel like work.” Before I can ask my next question, we’re running around the side of the building, leading David into his entrance at the back of the auditorium for the start of the second scene. Five minutes pass and we’re dodging two buckets flung into the wings at full pelt by Ben. I’ve written so many notes on my arm that I’ve run out of space and, now there’s a short break, spend it by the props table furiously scribbling in my notebook by the light of Sophie’s torch, which doubles as a toy panda. David puts a hand on my shoulder and whispers: “You have to wave at this bit.” What bit? “Ben says ‘till tomorrow then’ and, even though he can’t see us, we always wave.” “TILL TOMORROW THEN!” Ben booms. Everyone, including me, waves enthusiastically at the curtain. Then David pretends to have a tantrum at the fact his water bottle isn’t where he thought he’d left it. “I CAN’T WORK LIKE THIS!” he faux-flounces onto the stage, back in character in a matter of seconds. “Yes,” Sophie grins, “it’s definitely the actors that make it.” She leads me down to the dimly lit, cobwebbed passage underneath the stage, looking over her shoulder before opening 57 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
the door: “A woman who used to work at the theatre was walking down here during the show and felt something blocking her path,” she quips. “Turns out there was nothing there. It’s apparently haunted.” Great. The lights begin to fade and I’m suddenly within touching distance of the audience, swallowing madly and watching the tops of their heads. A lady on the front row, in response to whatever’s happening (we can’t see), keeps repeating the words “Oh god. Oh god.” Something happens, followed by a collective intake of breath and a flurry of motion as actors run down the walkway by the light of Sophie’s panda torch and to the sound of an unnerved audience first rustling, then squealing and, finally, a collective bout of good old fashioned screaming. “We’ve got ‘em,” David appears in the wings to perform a brief, celebratory tap dance before the interval. “That was great!” Ten minutes later, Sophie and I are puzzling over a word association game she and Ben play during each show. When setting the props, she writes a word on the paper he will use and Ben must, during the performance, scribble the first thing that comes into his head underneath it. She shows me some past papers, one where she’s written “God” and he’s scrawled “Delusion. Oooh this is just wordplay I don’t mean anything squiggle squiggle (as he goes back into character)” and “Madness” to which he’s responded “Ska—ooh that’s leftfield” Today the word was “Scab” and he’s written “Pick”, somewhat repulsively, so she responds with “Strawberry”. Upstairs the audience are preparing themselves for the climactic second act, which is where it gets tricky. For me, mainly. Considering the elements of the show I’m not supposed to mention, it would be impossible to describe act two. Sophie’s also only needed for one particularly infamous—and hair-raising—sequence so it seems a good time to grab a chair and ask her about how The Woman In Black compares with the bigger, more complex shows. “It’s a step sideways instead of backwards,” she replies, over a cup of tea and punctuated by occasional screams from upstairs. “Priscilla was so stressful. I was constantly busy, which was fine, but there was a lot more pressure and a lot more to remember.” With four assistant stage managers looking after separate sections, 100 people running around backstage and a massive automated bus to worry about, there was a lot of scope for mistakes. “Thankfully we had no accidents but lots of things that could go wrong, did. Provided the audience don’t notice mistakes, it’s
okay, but we weren’t always so lucky.” There were nights where the bus had to be reset, and the show stopped. There were also, obviously, nights when she herself made the odd corker, but she impressed the team enough to be asked back after leaving for Hair: The Musical. “Mistakes will always happen,” she says, “and they don’t mean you’re bad at your job but it’s nice to go somewhere where you can build your confidence back up.” Because it’s such a simple show to stage manage, things don’t usually go wrong. Last week she put Ben’s waistcoat on inside out, delaying his entrance by a fraction of a second and leaving the audience none the wiser. Not exactly catastrophic. The biggest mistake she remembers, however, involved an all-important sound effect being played too early. “I was distracting Sarah so she lost her place and, when it happened, her expression was just amazing,” she recalls, giggling. “She had to work out how to do it again at the right point. Ben was so surprised onstage he hadn’t reacted to the first one, which must have looked crazy. Odd things happen when stuff goes wrong!” Now, though, they can pretty much do it in their sleep. And, often, their sleep does actually involve the play itself. “One of the actors had a great recurring dream where they were in the house, terrified by some unknown presence,” Sophie says, “I dream I’ve put the wrong coat on someone, or missed a cue.” Talking of cues, it’s time to deliver what The Woman In Black is famous for. I wait at the side and smugly watch the scenes unfold from a less scary perspective until Sophie creeps onto the stage to sort a prop and beckons me to follow her. For 10 seconds, I am frozen, looking through the gauze dividing me from Ben and David acting out the penultimate scene and, beyond that, 405 theatregoers staring in my direction. I can see them and, though they can’t see me, it’s an exhilarating, petrifying experience. As the final curtain falls and the applause is deafening, there are three things that strike me. Firstly, how much fun it is to hear 405 people screaming, secondly, what a great job Sophie has and, finally, how satisfying it is to have a good, loud cough now and again.
Jonathan Sands, chief executive of the London Film Museum, on photography, props, his love of Covent Garden and his passion for The Godfather
BURT GLINN / MAGNUM
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ARTS London Film Museum 45 Wellington Street londonfilmmuseum.com/ covent-garden
Left: Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Suddenly Last Summer (1959) Below: Charlton HESTON takes directions on the set of The Planet of the Apes (1967)
DENNIS STOCK / MAGNUM
CGJ: How did the idea for the London Film Museum come about? JS: I originally started life as a stills photographer at Elstree Film Studios back in the mid 1990s and I worked closely with a prop hire company, before buying it in 2000. It incorporated original props and artefacts from a lot of major films, one of which was Star Wars. In 2005 I was asked to produce an event with Lucasfilm down in Monaco and it involved taking all of the 30, 40 foot original spaceships we had, along with a lot of the original costumes like Chewbacca and the storm troopers. They asked me if I would produce an exhibition in London for the 30th anniversary of the film, so I opened Star Wars: The Exhibition in May 2007 at County Hall. After seven months I thought to myself, gosh this is good, why don’t I create a film museum in the heart of London? I opened the Movieum in March 2008 in the same venue and then in 2010 got planning permission to open up the Covent Garden branch. That was all very condensed, you understand! What are the differences between the two museums? County Hall is more family orientated— with Batman and Superman—but Covent Garden is a dedicated look at a specific film. We also have a firm focus on photography, thanks to my background and also the fact it plays such an important part. Photographs are what goes down in history. When we enhance that as a concept with the moving image and the original props and costumes, there’s a lot of scope going forward. As a centre of photography it links in nicely—we have County Hall for film and Covent Garden for film and photography. It works perfectly because the space is tremendous. Where do the collections come from? It’s a mixture of friends and contacts I’ve made throughout my career and also a collaboration with the industry itself. Prop making is an artform, but often the films make them independently then scrap all the material once they’re done. What we say is, “Why not store some of it and put some of it on display for promotional purposes here?” If you take the Iron Lady exhibition at County Hall (running till the end of July), that’s exactly what happened. 59 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Is there scope for this at Covent Garden? It’s a great space—we are in talks with distribution companies about having temporary displays on a rotation basis. We’ve just been the location for the press junket of Prometheus and they brought down the props and all the stars were introduced among the actual set. We also did the DVD launch of Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, and they brought the original props and costumes to promote the film. Time will tell, but that is the ethos. Which exhibition are you most excited about? We have the Magnum On Set exhibition which is a range of Magnum photographers —some of the greatest photographers of all time including Henry Cartier-Bresson— capturing the likes of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, stills from Seven Year Itch and Misfits, all the greats, and enhanced by original costumes from those films. John Wayne’s Stetson, the original costumes from Planet of the Apes, that sort of thing. I’m excited because I was a photographer— these guys inspired my entire career. Was Covent Garden a good choice of location? My father was brought up in Long Acre as a child and I can’t believe where it’s at today. Such a cultural hub for theatre and film... what Capco and the Covent Garden Area Trust and Westminster have done is really build the brand Covent Garden and it’s such a lovely place to be. You just get the feeling everyone is working together to make this fantastic destination. Whilst it is a tourist destination, it’s more than that. What’s your favourite film? I have two. The Godfather and Star Wars. They are epics, The Godfather is not just a film—you really believe you’re there. A good film brings you into its world. There are loads of films that do that but for me The Godfather is unnbelieveably written, produced, looks fantastic. Star Wars has a special place in my heart because it’s taken up a third of my life. Having been involved right from the studios to the exhibition—we still have links and still work with them now. It’s something I cherish and will do for the rest of my life.
Five of the gallery staff who spend their days surrounded by Covent Garden’s finest artworks talk to Clare Finney about their favourite paintings
Jack Kettlewell, Gallery Technician, Courtauld Gallery One of the beauties of this collection is that it’s been hand-picked—a bit like someone’s iPod playlist. You might not want to see a full-on Van Gough exhibition but here it’s lovely because you just get lots of little stars. When I arrive the first thing I do is go through the galleries and make sure everything is still there and lit properly. It takes a couple of hours, so I’m usually the first one in. I start in the early Renaissance room, which is our earliest stuff and not a style I’d normally go for, but it’s grown on me because I see it every day. I was a gallery technician at the Tate before but here the job has a much broader remit. One of the jobs I get to do is build the plinths for the artwork. I love that because there’s a real craftsmanship to it. Another part of my job is conservation, and as a practicing painter seeing how the paintings are cared for really interests me. There was this amazing moment when we had to send off a Manet to Russia last year. We had to replace the backboard on it, and just taking it out and seeing it nude, without its frame and its glaze you suddenly realised: Edward Manet would have been handling 60 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
this. It’s a privilege to be a custodian of these works. My favourite is Chaim Soutine’s Young Woman in a White Blouse—well, it is at the minute, but it’s always changing. I only just got to know Soutine and I think this is an absolute belter. I love the clumsiness of it, and how it doesn’t seem laboured. There are a lot of contemporary painters who would give their left ear to do something like this. That’s the beautiful thing about paintings though—they are a way back into the past. Tim Knight, Building Services Engineer, National Portrait Gallery My least favourite portrait here is probably the blood head. That’s what we call it, anyway—officially I think the artist Mark Quinn named it Self. Basically he’s taken some of his blood, cast it in the shape of his head and frozen it in a glass box, which must be kept at -16C—so it’s a bit of a nightmare for the engineering team. If the power failed and it melted that would be a disaster. A couple of weeks ago I got a call at 2am from security staff because they thought the temperature had gone up. Thankfully it hadn’t, but if it had I would have to come in and sort it out. I’ve had a couple of midnight
Jack Kettlewell in front of Chaim Soutineâ€™s Young Woman in a White Blouse
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Horation Nelson Sir William Beechey
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère Edouard Manet
calls like that over the years. You’d be surprised how much engineering goes into galleries. Everything is monitored by a big computer system but things are always failing because the building is so old. Those pen-type things sticking out the walls in each room are temperaturehumidity sensors—we have to maintain the temperature, the humidity and the lighting within strict limits. You really see the whole shebang here. When a new piece of work is going up we do everything from talking to curators about what they want from the lighting to checking conservation standards—all artworks deteriorate at different rates depending on things like what type of paint it is and what it’s painted on. When I go to other galleries I find I get quite proud if their lighting isn’t as good as ours is—here, though, we’re all so busy that the works often become part of the furniture. It’s only when you bring other people round that you realise how very lucky you are. I do try to see temporary exhibitions at our private view, but to be honest it’s a bit of a busman’s holiday. You’ve worked on it so much it’s hard to look beyond that and see the art. If I see a painting I like I don’t have enough knowledge to explain why I like it. For example, I really love the portrait of Nelson, 62 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
but only because I’m from Portsmouth and HMS Victory was a really big part of my life when I was growing up. I have learnt a lot since I’ve been here though. Before I started I didn’t even know who Bridget Riley was, and now I’ve met her. I’ve even come to like Mark Quinn’s head. You see kids getting up really close and then realising it’s blood and squealing. It’s very funny. And of course, there’s loads of engineering behind it, which I do enjoy really.
simply because people have such different views on it. They say the lady at the back is a reflection—which would mean you are standing in the man’s shoes there and that is really cool—but then, when you look again that doesn’t really add up. The lady at the back is leaning a bit forward, but the one at the front is standing up straight. I like it here because you work with nice people and beautiful paintings, and we have a fixed rota so we’re never in the same room long. My job is to keep an eye Waqas Sarfraz, on the visitors—but when I get time I love to Security Officer, wander round the gallery, because in certain Courtauld Gallery paintings you often spot new things. Mostly I love talking to all the people who Some people do get really passionate about come —people from all over the world. On art, and I like that because you can really Saturday we had someone from Russia who learn from them. Before I came here I didn’t came especially to see A Female Nude by even know what impressionism was and now Amedeo Modigliani, only to find it had gone to I know much more about painting styles and Moscow for display. We laughed, and I said, different artists. This might not be one of the “You must have crossed in the air!” biggest art galleries in the world, but it is one of the finest—and even if you don’t like the Rose Brookes, paintings, the building is great. Visitor Services Assistant, For me personally, I don’t like the modern National Portrait Gallery stuff on the second floor—it looks like something anyone can do—but the first I’ve been here 10 years. I’ve spent most of floor where the impressionists are is great. that time on reception or the information My favourite is Edouard Manet’s A Bar desk. However, for the first two years I was at the Folies-Bergère. I like this painting here, I just worked the floors. I had a lot of
Dame Cicely Mary Strode Saunders Catherine Goodman Antibes Claude Monet
time to think and one thing I noticed was how few women there were on the upper floors— unless they were courtesans, royals or actresses—so when the gallery decided to start Portrait of the Day, where anyone who worked here could give a talk on a portrait they liked, I decided mine would be women. My favourite is of Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the hospice movement. I loved talking about her portrait—and Margaret Thatcher’s too, although for quite different reasons. As you can tell I’m more interested in the humanitarian perspective of portraits than the artistry. I love the feeling of being surrounded by people who have made society what it is today. Even portraits of modern celebrities—I don’t have children of my own, but I have teenage nephews and nieces and I realise what a very different culture theirs is. I might find Stella McCartney’s life quite superficial, but to my 17-year-old niece such people are important even if they are not saving lives. When I worked on the floors, boredom was the worst thing. The best way to stop that was always to read the texts and become more interested in the sitters’ lives. Often I’d look them up later, just to find out more. That said, one of the first things I had to get used to on the floor was that you’re not really supposed to look at the works—you’re 63 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
meant to be watching the visitors to see if they’re acting suspiciously. There’s definitely been an increase in odd behaviour since the internet, with people doing odd gimmicks like sticking a photo on the wall and filming it for YouTube. Looking round at all these different lives every day and how they are summed up in a few words does make you reflect on what your own portrait’s label would say. Not necessarily in a morbid way, but it does make you think. I wonder what people would say about me—and what I would like them to say. It reminds you that you are only here once. Hilary Gaster, Retail and Visitor Services Assistant, Courtauld Gallery I have always loved this painting of Antibes by Monet. I am actually going to Antibes this year specifically to find this spot and see if it really looks like this. When Monet wrote home from here, he said what he would bring back would be “sweetness itself, white and pink and blue all enveloped in his magical air”, and that is exactly what he’s got. When I applied for this job I never thought I’d get it— there are so many young people who are art graduates and fully conversant with modern
technology looking for jobs. But my oldest daughter was coming up to 18 and I wanted to make enough money to put on a party— and while I’ve no academic qualifications in art I have spent my life in galleries with the headphones taking notes. Now she’s 25, and here I am still, working two days a week in the shop and doing guided tours. I love both, but I get a partcular buzz out of the tours. I am interested in the history and beauty of the painting, and unless there is somebody to show visitors the salient features they will miss out. Most people just have a few days in London in which to see half a dozen galleries so they don’t spend long in each. Sometimes, when I’m in the shop people will ask where the gallery entrance is and then be back minutes later. In fact, statistics show that with some types of painting people spend less than a minute looking at them, whereas to my mind you need to spend at least 10. Take Cezanne’s card players—you really need to look carefully to see the wine bottle at the end of the table to understand it’s supposed to be a tabac, and notice the cards are differentiated to show it’s removed from reality. It also helps to talk to people as anybody who stands in front of a picture will see something different, even if they’ve seen it before.
ARTS IN BRIEF
What the Butler Saw More psycho-drama over at the Vaudeville Theatre, where playwright Joe Orton is opening the fourth wall of a psychiatric ward—this time from the point of view of the psychiatrists. In scene one psychoanalyst Dr Prentice
is ‘interviewing’ (by which he means ‘taking the clothes off’) a prospective secretary. In scene two, his wife enters the room. Add to this mix cross dressing, a government inspection and more old fashioned farce than you can shake a slapstick at and you’ll have a pretty good
sense of the ensuing chaos. It might have been penned in the 1960s, but so long as jealousy, lust and madness are around, What the Butler Saw will remain a magnificent view. whatthebutlersawtheplay.com
The Physicists Until 21st July Donmar Warehouse donmarwarehouse.com
If you believe that success alone measures the difference between insanity and genius, this play will resonate with you. Penned in 1962 by Swiss dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt, it recreates the post-war years with feeling, from the relentless technological march to the prevailing climate of fear and paranoia and the fact that many of the world’s greatest minds were being put to use creating terrifying weapons that could wipe out humanity. The place is a mental asylum, the people Herbert Georg Beutler, Ernst Heinrich Ernesti and Johann Wilhelm Möbius—all physicists, all crazy. Beutler thinks he’s Isaac Newton, Ernesti thinks he’s Einstein and Möbius, meanwhile, is haunted by a biblical king. They are well looked after—it’s the best asylum in France—yet things turn strange when nurses start being murdered. Which physicist did it? And, more importantly, why? Directed by Jack Thorne, the Donmar’s take on Dürrenmatt breathes new life into his masterpiece, as questions of scientific ethics and mankind’s responsibilities flare up once more.
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ARTS Porgy and Bess It might be several decades and 8,000odd miles away from its original home in 1920s Charleston, but there’s no denying the suitability of post-apartheid Soweto as the setting for the intensely moving story of Porgy and Bess.
Performed by Cape Town Opera, it tells the story of the crippled beggar Porgy’s attempts to rescue the beautiful Bess from her dependency upon her violent lover Crown and Sportin’ Life, her unscrupulous dope-dealer. Launched in 2009 to celebrate Cape Town Opera’s
10th anniversary, the show’s arrival in London is long anticipated, and marks the 75th anniversary of its composer George Gershwin’s tragic early death. eno.org
Silent Cinema 8th-9th August stmartinscourtyard.co.uk/silentcinema
SOUND OF SILENCE
/Inside Story Our anonymous West End insider gives a backstage view of life in Theatreland
/ Silent Cinema
FROM THE CREW ROOM/ CROWDED HOUSES It is impossible to miss the fact that the Olympic bandwagon is about to roll into town. The media is awash with exhortations for our athletes to excel, usually in terms borrowed from the world of yours truly. Team GB members are being urged to ‘enjoy the spotlight’, hit peak form ‘on cue’ and develop mental strategies for avoiding ‘stage fright’, if they are going to bring home the medals. There is also a feeling around that the whole Olympic shebang might not be all that beneficial to me and my fellow theatre folk. Stories abound—also sadly wreathed in the same borrowed theatrical clichés—of a collapse in audience numbers turning the West End into a world of empty theatres and overly flamboyant restaurant staff. All this pessimism has arisen despite an enormous cultural festival attached to the Olympics— one launched with the express aim of introducing huge numbers of new people to the wonderful experiences in the world of the arts. Arts which I presume include the theatre. The fear is that people will put aside their theatrical desires in order to sit at home watching weightlifting and archery. While I have no doubt that these contests will produce their fair share of human drama and tension, the fact remains that there is the occasional citizen who will not be spending the entire Olympic season glued to the television with their favourite takeaway on speed dial. There seems to me to be something inherently illogical about this argument. The games are going to bring extra tourists to London, and the conclusion drawn from this is that London’s tourist based industries—of which alas the theatre 65 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
is one—are going to suffer. There is clearly some part of the reasoning that escapes me. One of the—admittedly very few— advantages of having a few years tucked behind this rather stout belt is that it gives one a sense of perspective. I have been immersed in this world for some time, and have seen the theatre go through both lean and bountiful periods before. I have seen bookings go up in recessions and down for no reason at all, and I have seen some momentous world events leave the industry entirely untroubled and others result in disaster. I remember the outbreak of the first Gulf conflict, in the days before we had all become inured to images of carnage from those unhappy deserts. For a while there were virtually no tourists—or anyone else for that matter—on the streets. It was a disaster for the theatre, with so many shows closing that companies had to prioritise which sets to dismantle first. It also meant of course that there were not enough busy restaurant tables to soak up the sudden availability of overly flamboyant staff. So I am going to swim against the generally cynical and pessimistic tide. I’m choosing to believe that a vast number of extra people on our streets will lead to at least a moderately increased number of bums on our seats. Of course there is a chance that my optimism is being fuelled by unvarnished self-interest as opposed to clear thinking. After all, if the pessimists prove to be correct, there is every chance that I will find myself sitting on the couch, remote control in hand, and getting very intimately involved with the intricacies of women’s weightlifting.
On Wednesday 8th August, a Bollywood dance troupe is coming to a big screen in St Martin’s Courtyard. The next day, they will be replaced by a small Italian boy and a blind cinema projectionist. Crowds will flock, food and drink will be flowing—naughty chai, Bill’s hedgerow fizz cocktails, free gourmet popcorn—but if you’re wondering how all this will happen without disturbing the neighbours fear not: this is silent cinema. They won’t hear a thing. Instead, over a hundred wireless headphones will allow audience members to watch a classic film set in India—exactly which one has yet to be confirmed—and the Oscar-winning Italian weepie Cinema Paradiso at full volume outside in the courtyard while enjoying a variety of delicacies that will change according to the film being shown. If it’s India, then Dishoom will take over the catering, serving ‘naughty chai’ made with Baileys or whisky. If it’s Italy, then Dalla Terra and its fine hams and cheese will appear on the scene. Book a table at Suda, Bill’s or Dalla Terra if you want the best seats in the courtyard (their set price menus will include a headset), register online for a chance to win a pair or turn up early on the night to get one of the 20 tickets available on the entrance. They’re free, but it’s first come, first served.
/Mind the Map London Transport Museum
All my life I had lived under the illusion that my dad and I were the only two people in the world obsessed with the tube map. Brought up on the Metropolitan line, he and I would spend many a bumpy ride into town working out how to get from Northwood to Leicester Square in the least number of stops. Or Mansion House to Cockfosters. Or Borough to Ladbroke Grove. We could go on for hours and, thanks to the number of signal failures, we often did. So imagine my excitement when I found there were others who not only shared this passion, but who loved the tube map so much they were putting on an exhibition all about it. Mind the Map, the latest arrival at the London Transport Museum, is the largest exhibition ever to explore the wonderful world of tube maps. Encompassing both new artworks and previously unseen historical material, it offers a fully guided tour of these maps and their influence on cartography, art and the public imagination. Harry Beck’s draft of today’s version is there—the design of which he dreamt up in his spare time while working the signal office—and so too are innovative interpretations by the likes of Simon Patterson and the inimitably deadpan David Shrigley. Equally riveting are the old fashioned posters proclaiming key stops for playgoers or the joys of the suburbs. One of the most absorbing exhibits is Stephen Walter’s unnerving exploration of subterranean London. Combining tangles of tube lines with buried rivers, sewers, bunkers, government tunnels and burial sites it’s a triumph of painstaking research and cartography. Like his twin map, The Island, just simply looking at it blows your mind. We’d reprint it here, but it’s so intricate it wouldn’t do it justice. It’s a ‘be there’ thing. Similarly impressive is the collection of Pocket Maps. We’ve all had one, but it’s impossible to appreciate quite how interesting and eclectic they’ve been until you see them together: the World up 1966 edition rubbing shoulders with Tracey Emin’s 2012 edition and that of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. You won’t like all of them—but then this is the London Underground. However much we depend on it, the relationship between us will always be love-hate. 66 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
A-Z Tube map poster by Tim Fishlock (2010)
ARTS Mind the Map Until 28th October 2012 London Transport Museum Covent Garden Piazza ltmuseum.co.uk
Tube Map Cover by Liam Gillick (2007) Pocket Underground map (2005)
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Poster by David Booth of the agency Fine White Line (1987)
Until 21st October /National Portrait Gallery
The Hospital Club 24 Endell Street 020 7170 9100 thehospitalclub.com
The Courtauld Gallery The Strand 020 7848 2526 courtauld.ac.uk
LIGHTNESS OF BEING BY CHRIS LEVINE ©CHRIS LEVINE
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MANTEGNA TO MATISSE: MASTER DRAWINGS
18th July – 31st August /The Hospital Club
National Portrait Gallery St Martin’s Place 020 7306 0055 npg.org.uk
You’d have thought, having seen it on every letter, coin and bank note since 1952, we’d have had enough of the Queen’s face by now. Yet according to a new exhibition exploring Her Majesty’s visage, quite the opposite is true. Launched last November for the Diamond Jubilee, it encompasses 60 images—one for each year of her reign—and a veritable royal court of great artists and photographers: Andy Warhol, Cecil Beaton, Thomas Struth, Annie Leibovitz, to name but some. Many are flattering. Some, like Lucien Freud’s thick, ‘characterful’ Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II are less so. All are extraordinarily well done. Alternating respectfully between public and private, formal and journalistic, candid and contrived, the exhibition shows the queen from all angles—well worth exchanging a few of those coins and notes for.
HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN’: HENDRIX HITS LONDON
Had Jimi Hendrix not died in his sleep in 1970 in a Notting Hill hotel room, he would have been celebrating his 70th birthday this year. To celebrate the life of one of the 20th century’s most blistering creative talents—an American who only found fame and appreciation after moving to London in 1966—The Hospital Club is showing one of the complete exhibitions of Hendrix memorabilia ever seen, presented by Seattle’s EMP Museum. The exhibition will include over 100 artefacts, some of which have never been on public display before. They include Jimi’s own blues records, photographs and fan letters, as well as items of his clothing such as his ‘Westerner’ hat, worn for the cover of his 1968 Smash Hits album. A series of video interviews with Jimi’s friends and fellow musicians, including Jeff Beck, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Iggy Pop, Al Hendrix, Charles Shaar Murray, Ravi Shankar and Joey Ramone give a flavour of the man’s personality and musical genius.
Until 9th September /The Courtauld Gallery
CHILD SEEN FROM BEHIND BY GUERCINO C © THE COURTAULD GALLERY, LONDON
THE QUEEN ART & IMAGE
Lucien Freud. David Hockney. Leonardo da Vinci. Whatever London 2012 has in store on the sport front, this will always be seen as a great year for art. Yet as wonderful as these blockbuster exhibitions have been, there are times when seeing art without timed tickets, vast crowds and a shopful of dedicated merchandise seems decidedly appealing—and at such times, you could do far worse than come to the Courtauld. Here, sketches from such great names as Rembrandt, Cézanne, and Matisse have been pulled out of their permanent collections and hung on the walls together with their lesser known but no less talented peers. Those looking for ‘behind the brushstrokes’ views on art will be amazed. And while missing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Freud is never advisable, there something to be said for an exhibition you don’t have to elbow your way through crowds to actually enjoy.
THE ROLLING STONES: 50
13th July – 27th August /East Wing Galleries, Somerset House
On 12th July 1962 a bunch of wiry young whippersnappers calling themselves the Rolling Stones went on stage for the first time at the Marquee Club in London’s Oxford Street, pummelling their way through a set of American blues music. Half a century later, they’re still going—as wiry as ever, but not nearly as young as they behave. To celebrate this milestone, a free photographic exhibition documenting 50 eventful years of performance, mayhem and classic music is taking over the East Wing Galleries, including a wealth of unseen and rare material. The exhibition includes over 70 prints ranging from reportage photography, live concert and studio session images, to contact sheets, negative strips and outtakes from every period of the band’s history. This exhibition coincides with the release of the book by the same name, published by Thames & Hudson. 69 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
THE ROLLING STONES ©STEVEN KLEIN
Somerset House The Strand 020 7845 4600 somersethouse.org.uk
70 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Glyn Brown on how Nell Gwynâ€™s wit, spark and other notable charms ensured a rapid rise from Covent Garden orange seller to comic actress to adored mistress of Charles II
AD E MIS T R
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The thing that surprises me most about Nell Gwyn is that there’s so little out there about her. A few books, but mostly out of print. A few bits on Google, but you need to trawl. The reason, no doubt, is that we understand the lady to have been a whore, the shameless mistress of Charles II—but Gwyn was also an actress and, if reports are to be believed, was extremely accomplished at her craft. Added to this, she manoeuvred her way from guttersnipe to the mother of landed gentry, and did so by keeping her royal patron’s attention by her spark and wit—even when past her prime, when the King had better-looking, younger girls to hand. And through it all, she seems to have been a genuinely kind and loving woman. It’s a rags to riches tale that rivals Cinderella’s; if Cinderella had actually done something. Three cities make a claim to be the birthplace of Eleanor ‘Nell’ Gwyn (or Gwynn or Gwynne, but let’s keep it simple). These are Oxford, Hereford and London, with London the favourite, since it’s where her mother was born and where our heroine grew up. Place of birth is generally held to be Coal Yard Alley, a slum off Drury Lane, and a horoscope later cast for her puts the date at Saturday 2 February 1650, at six 72 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
o’clock in the morning. Nell’s father, Thomas Gwyn, is believed to have been a captain in the Cavalier army during the English civil war, but he’s out of the picture by the time of his daughter’s London childhood. Her mother, Helena or Eleanor, better known as ‘Old Ma Gwyn’, was by most accounts a brandy-swigging alcoholic whose business was running a bawdy-house, or brothel. There, or in the bawdy-house of a nearby Madam Ross, Nell spent most of her early life. It’s likely she and her handsome older sister, the ‘notorious’ Rose, worked as child prostitutes, but additional childhood occupations include street hawker of herring, oysters or turnips, and cinder-girl. Around 1662, when Gwyn was almost 13, she’s said to have taken a lover, Robert Duncan, a guards officer who set her up with rooms at a tavern in Maypole Alley, which ran from Drury Lane to the Strand. One significant thing about Duncan: he had an interest in the management of a brand new theatre being built nearby. During the previous decade of Puritan rule by the Cromwells, ‘frivolous’ pastimes, including the theatre, had been banned. When Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, he quickly changed all that. Early acts passed by the King included the licensing of two acting companies and, astonishingly, the legalisation of acting as a profession for women. In 1663 the King’s Company, lead by Charles’s waggish friend Thomas Killigrew, opened a playhouse in Drury Lane, known as the Theatre in Bridges Street and later named the Theatre Royal. Mary Meggs, a former prostitute nicknamed ‘Orange Moll’, had been granted a license to “vend, utter and sell oranges, lemons, fruit, sweetmeats and all manner of fruiterer’s and confectioner’s wares” at the theatre. Perhaps with a word from Duncan, Moll hired Gwyn and her sister Rose as scantily-clad ‘orange girls’, selling small, sweet oranges for sixpence each. The work introduced her to London’s higher society— this was “the King’s playhouse”, and Charles often attended performances. So here’s Nell: short and very slim, with a dainty figure and exquisite legs. Extremely pretty, not so much beautiful as a fulllipped minx. Long auburn hair. What draws attention to all this is her candid wit and strong, clear voice, as she strides amongst
She was greeted with booing and insults, the mob thinking she was the Catholic mistress, Louise de Kérouille. “Good people,” she said with a smile. “You are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore.”
the audience like a female Artful Dodger. She caught Killigrew’s eye, and he recruited her, at 14, to join his group of actresses. He sent her to his school for young actors, where she was taught by Charles Hart, one of the finest actors of the time, and very soon her lover. In Restoration theatre, short runs and high play turnover were the norm. Nell would have to show she could learn up to 50 plays a year. Since she was illiterate, scrawling her initials (E.G.) with difficulty, this would mean learning by reciting, walking up and down, saying the lines again and again as she was told them. She made her debut in 1665, at 15, in John Dryden’s heroic drama The Indian Emperor, playing Cydaria, the daughter of Montezuma. It was a mistake. Diarist Samuel Pepys, who had already noticed her about the stage, certainly thought so. “Saw the Indian Emperor, where I find Nell come again, which I am glad of; but was most infinitely displeased with her being put to act the Emperor’s daughter; which is a great and serious part, which she do most basely.” It was no good—Nell was a funny kid, a mimic with a gift for repartee, not a tragedienne. Fortunately, the new form of Restoration comedy suited her perfectly. Two months later, she appeared with Hart in All’s Mistaken, or the Mad Couple, where they played witty, antagonistic lovers. It made Nell Gwyn a star. Not long after this, Pepys caught sight of her at home as he strolled through Covent Garden. “Saw pretty Nelly standing at her lodging door in Drury Lane in her smock sleeves and bodice. A mighty pretty creature.” He was smitten. That summer, and for over a year, the Great Plague closed most of the city. When life began again, Nell played a string of roles, her high spirits and arched brow making her perfect to deliver the risqué but fashionable prologues and epilogues of the time. Soon, the crowds came for her alone, and Dryden began to write characters especially for her, based on her audacity and airy laissez-faire. Her triumph was playing the seductive Florimell in Dryden’s Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen in 1667, when she was 17. It included scenes of Gwyn impersonating a boy and clad in tight-fitting male attire, which drove the audience wild. Poor old Pepys was among them. “To the King’s house to see The Maiden Queen. The King and the Duke of York were at the play. But so great 73 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
performance of a comical part was never, I believe, in the world before as Nell do this, both as a mad girl, then most and best of all when she comes in like a young gallant, and hath the notions and carriage of a spark the most that ever I saw any man have.” Throwing out lines such as “Toss about my empty Noddle” and “a very janty fellow”, she was the original Dandini. Pepys saw the play on at least two further occasions. Gwyn had become immensely popular, mixing with playwrights and aristocrats (she’d had a brief affair with the cultured and dissolute court wit Lord Buckhurst). In April 1668, she attended a play at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. In the next box (this is how far she’d come, at 18) sat the King, who apparently spent the evening ignoring the stage and flirting with her. Charles invited Gwyn and her escort to supper, together with his brother, the future King James II. Allegedly, the King was embarrassed to find he had no money with him; Nell had to foot the bill. “Od’s fish!” she exclaimed, imitating the King’s manner of speech, “but this is the poorest company I ever was in.” By summer, her affair with the King was well-known, though few expected it to last beyond a few months. The King of course was married, to the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza. He also had a harem of mistresses, lead by the beautiful, sharptongued Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine. But Castlemaine was aging; in her place now were Nell and Moll Davis, a young actress with the Duke’s Company. Typically, one evening just before Davis was due to entertain the King, Nell managed to slip a powerful laxative into her rival’s teatime cakes, apparently assisted in her little jape by the female playwright Aphra Behn. Nell continued to act, drawing ever larger crowds due to her royal connection. But she seems to have truly loved the King, and as her commitment grew, her ambition faltered. Her last performance was in late 1670, in another Dryden play, and just after the birth of her first son, Charles, by the King. As Charles’s mistress, Nell Gwyn became even more adored by the population. They liked her vivacity, her astonishing indiscretions, and the fact that, somehow, she seemed to remain a favourite. When the King selected a new paramour, the emptyheaded Louise de Kérouaille, a noblewoman
from Versailles, Nell nicknamed her ‘Squintabella’ and mercilessly caricatured her French accent. She entertained the King in more ways than one, and was not above kind-hearted amusements—tying a fried fish to his line when he complained of not catching anything. Though she dressed regally and was given beautiful homes, including a townhouse in Pall Mall and the stunning Burford House in Windsor, she asked for comparatively little. Having lost her second child at the age of 10, her only demands were for her remaining son. Two stories circulate as to how that child got his titles. Most popular is that, when the boy was six, on the arrival of the King, Nell said, “Come here, you little bastard, and say hello to your father.” When Charles protested, she replied, “Your Majesty has given me no other name by which to call him,” so Charles made his son the Earl of Burford. The second story is that Nell grabbed the child as a baby and hung him out of the window of Lauderdale House in Highgate, where she briefly lived, threatening to drop him unless he was granted a peerage. Desperately, the King cried, “God save the Earl of Burford!” King Charles II died on 6 February, 1685. Obeying his brother’s deathbed wish, “Let not poor Nelly starve,” James II paid off Nell Gwyn’s debts and gave her a pension of £1,500 a year. As far as we can tell, from the age of 18, when she became his mistress, to her death, Nell remained faithful to the King. She died at 37 of apoplexy (in fact, a series of strokes), almost certainly due to long-term syphilis, and was buried at the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. She left a legacy to the prisoners of Newgate, and is thought to have been instrumental in the foundation of Chelsea Hospital. Nell Gwyn will probably be remembered for two key things that she said. On one occasion, seeing her coachman fighting with another who had called her a whore, she broke up the fight, saying, “I am a whore. Find something else to fight about.” A few years earlier, passing through Oxford in her coach, she was greeted with booing and insults, the mob thinking she was the Catholic mistress, Louise de Kérouille. “Good people,” she said, putting her head out of the window with a smile. “You are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore.”
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Two and half years ago Sunday Times journalist Giles Hattersley decided to take the plunge and move to a flat right in the heart of Covent Garden. He tells Clare Finney about spending his life right in the middle of it all
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
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THE CONSTANT GARDENER
If, like us, you spend every weekend elbow deep in Sunday Times supplements, you’ll have heard of Giles Hattersley. If not—well, you’re missing out. Smart, sensitive, with a keen wit and an even keener talent for spotting new trends and celebrating old favourites, his words have been dancing across the pages of the Times since he started as an intern on the Style desk over a decade ago. Now, working flat out for both the Style and the News Review sections from his home in Covent Garden, he appears to be living the dream. He lives in Long Acre. He writes for a living. He spends his lunch breaks rifling through vintage shops and when we meet—a sunny Saturday at Machiavelli’s café—he is but a stone’s throw from his house. He’s no Carrie Bradshaw—“I’m very allergic to that image”, he tells me—but even he has to admit: the life of a freelancer on Long Acre is one you’d go a long way to beat. 76 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
On choosing Covent Garden I’ve found in London if you really look for something you can live anywhere. Every borough has its secret streets or row of flats that no one can convert into banker’s pads. If you’re willing to look hard enough, you’ll find them—so although people think I must be either very mad or very rich to live in Covent Garden, I’m actually just quite lucky. I was living in Islington, split up with my ex-boyfriend and had this thrill of being newly single. For the first time I thought, why the hell not live somewhere central? I thought about Soho, but that really has a high risk of vomit on your doorstep and intense Friday night noise. Then I thought Covent Garden, and at first thought it would be a bit too expensive. But it just proves that you have to keep looking—because what I’ve ended up with is this lovely, small, slightly quirky attic apartment, and after two and half years I really don’t want to leave.
On Covent Garden the cliché Covent Garden has all these clichés— that it’s packed with tourists and exchange students, lacking in atmosphere, a bit impersonal and so on—but while there are some days when you come out of your front door and you can’t move for matching fluorescent windbreakers and Eastpak rucksacks, when you live here it is actually surprisingly neighbourhood-y. If you think about places like Fulham or Islington there are just streets and streets of big period houses, so the residential population is enormous. Here, because the residential population is quite small you can really get to know people. On the neighbours I think the people who live here are really quite cool. It might not be the trendiest spot, but what you do find is that the people who have chosen to live here have all got a slightly adventurous spirit. They want to
theirs will be complete. Yet while anyone who isn’t a writer imagines that you sit there immaculately turned out with a latte and a laptop, with the words flowing effortlessly, the reality is very different—more often than not you are in a disgusting hoody, looking your worst and weirdest, with a deadline looming, drinking cup after cup of cold tea. I never write in coffee shops. Who writes in coffee shops? That’s the biggest myth ever. You might be able to whack out some emails but if you have to create more than 1,000 words of interesting English, I don’t think it works best doing it in Starbucks. That said, for the solitary creative, living in Covent Garden is just brilliant. If you worked from home on a street where everyone else picked up their bag at 8am and went off to work, you could go stir crazy. Whereas here, if you want to pop out for 20 minutes and have a bit of noise and excitement it’s all there on your doorstep.
Gardener’s world If, like Giles, you also fancy putting down roots in Covent Garden, a couple of recent developments have been adding an exciting new dimension to the area’s stock of residential properties The Henrietta (left) Covent Garden Living and Argent Design have created a series of large lateral apartments and a penthouse set in the historic Piazza, right in the heart of Covent Garden. Dubbed The Henrietta, the building is designed to strict specifications to compliment the unique architecture of the square. Inside, marble bathrooms, walnut wardrobes, 100 per cent wool carpets and stone flooring provide a living space which is as special on the inside as it is from without. Quintessentially, the renowned global black book, will be offering residents its concierge and security services. coventgardenliving.com firstname.lastname@example.org St Martin’s Courtyard (right) Over at St Martin’s Courtyard, 40 beautiful new residential apartments—from studios to 3 bedroom penthouse suites—were completed early last year and 30 more created in the existing buildings. Set within this lovely new development of shops, restaurants and offices surrounding an open courtyard, the apartments fit perfectly with the style and character of the area—yet clever interior design and a bright, clean aesthetic still render them new and fresh. Many of the apartments have outdoor space in the form of terraces, winter gardens or balconies. There are also several green roofs and green walls. eashaw.com email@example.com
live right in the thick of things. They want to be near the theatres and restaurants. They want living in London to become a different experience from that of getting up in a flat in a concerted Victorian house, sitting on the tube for an hour and popping into Tesco Metro for dinner on the way home. There’s a sort of grim London rigmarole that most people go through every day, but living here completely changes that. It started off as something of an experiment for me, but now I love it. On walking everywhere Living here turns London into a walking town. Even though I spend most of my week without a commute, I love the fact that almost anywhere from Islington to Pimlico is a completely achievable walk. Such are the pleasures of central living—everywhere is within walking distance, so if you can find the right property and make it work within your means it’s wonderful. 77 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
On sleeping through everything—even closing time When I first moved in I thought I would never get a night’s sleep ever again. I know I’m on a slightly quieter end of the Piazza, and the pubs here close at 11, but there will still be someone caterwauling through the streets at 3am. For three weeks it was like that—then all at once there was a sea change. I found I could have my window wide open onto Long Acre in high summer and still go to sleep at 9:30pm if I chose. Someone could be gutting a cat outside my window and I would just easily sleep through it—so you toughen up, living here, even to those aspects some people think are unappealing. On not being Carrie Bradshaw—and not working in Starbucks. My friends still all joke that I am trying to be some Carrie Bradshaw nightmare. No doubt when Balthazar opens that sad dream of
On living on top of world famous restaurants and retailers I think if you live here you have to not mind not having the secret gastro pub that you and your mates rave about—you’re in the middle of an international city. What I really get a kick out of is, for example, buying a new Mac. When I needed to replace my laptop, I went to the largest Apple store in the world and I carried it home in two minutes. Equally, all these new restaurant additions will be world famous before long. I feel a bit clichéd saying it, given it’s only been open 10 minutes, but I already really love The Delaunay. I went there last week for a lovely drink with a friend. And although I joke about Balthazar, I really can’t wait to have a nosy in there—there’s a real buzz round here about it opening. On reading London’s mood It sounds really weird, but living here you can often read the mood of the city. Just from the noise level in the sitting room you can sense what kind of weekend it’s going to be— whether it’s payday, or a long way off payday, or one of those weekends where everybody goes away. Without even thinking about it you pick up on those rhythms. And if you can hear that sort of mad pub chatter really filling up the sitting room and you look at your watch and it’s only 7pm, you know it’s going to be an absolutely mammoth weekend.
PLACE IN BRIEF
Chesteron Humberts chestertonhumberts.com
SPECIAL AGENTS /Chesterton Humberts
Christopher Saye, from the sales department of the Covent Garden branch of Chesterton Humberts on the best areas of Covent Garden to buy and why it’s more exciting to be a resident here than ever before. CGJ: What parts of London do you operate in? CS: Our area is from Great Portland Street to Farringdon Road, Whitehall Court to Euston Road. It’s great because you can walk everywhere, you really get to know the area so much quicker without the blinkered view from a car. I’ve been at this office for two years and my personal favourite place is Covent Garden—especially the Piazza. How come? It’s so great for entertainment, you can’t get much more central and it’s such a beautiful, historic area of London. The flats in the roads around the piazza, such as Henrietta Street, are being developed at the moment to create upmarket luxury apartments to meet the rising demand. Yes, they’re less expensive than Knightsbridge and Mayfair, only a mile down the road, but more and more buyers are catching on to the fact that this is an up and coming area to invest in. Why do you think this is? It’s busy, but not loud, has a smalltown feel while being incredibly central and close to many of the universities—a lot of our 78 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
international clients buy homes for their kids in the short term with the idea of selling them on as the property prices are steadily increasing each year. While it’s certainly not cheap—studios start from around £400,000—it’s cheaper than other places surrounding it!
What’s your favourite property at the moment? There’s one on Craven Street that’s especially lovely. We also have a property on Tottenham Street currently owned by a fashion designer that’s, as you’d expect, a really wonderful place to live.
What kind of properties can be found? There are so many undiscovered little mews and alleys—the other day I was on Queens Square which nobody’s ever really heard of—and, because the area is so commercial, a lot of places above shops and restaurants or behind businesses are deceptively beautiful. Because it’s an arty area, people decorate their places so creatively and no two properties are alike. Among the apartments you can also find some great houses, although they are fiercely competitive... as are most of the Covent Garden places. There are so few properties in comparison to, say, Clapham or other more residential areas.
How would you describe your clientele? Everyone knows Covent Garden, so you get a good cross-section of people buying and renting in order to enjoy London, from Europeans to Americans. Some retire here, attracted by the closeness of Bloomsbury and its quiet garden squares, others buy our modern properties. We get a lot of celebrities renting while working or promoting over here short term.
How can buyers be sure to snap them up? If you sign up with an agency, you hear about new places on the market in advance. For example, we alert our clients to apartments and houses 24 hours before they go up on our site and 48 hours before they’re up on property websites such as Rightmove. By the time you see them on the internet, they’re usually gone so it’s good to be ahead of the game!
Any examples? Well, a lot of actors come here—if they’re doing a six month run on the West End then it’s a perfect location. But not just actors, anyone who needs a central place would be hard pressed to find a better area than Covent Garden. Diana Ross rented with us last year for Wimbledon and we were in talks with Rihanna for a while as she was looking for houses while filming something in the capital. I read the other day in the paper that she’s no longer filming whatever it was she was filming, so maybe that’s why it went quiet at her end but she’s always welcome here if she needs somewhere to stay!
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UNCONDITIONAL + 16 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 6931 unconditional.uk.com Womenswear & menswear Urban Outfitters 42-56 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 020 7759 6390 urbanoutfitters.com Womenswear & menswear Vilebrequin 9 King Street vilebrequin.com Men’s swimwear Volcom 7 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 3353 volcomeurope.com Surf and skate fashion WeSC 35 Neal Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 4473 wesc.com Skate fashion Whistles 24 Long Acre 020 7240 8195 whistles.co.uk Womenswear
HEALTH & BEAUTY
Adee Phelan 29 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7240 3777 adeephelan.com Hair & beauty salon Bare Escentuals 40 Neal Street, Seven Dials bareescentuals.co.uk Skincare and cosmetics Benefit 19 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7379 0316 benefitcosmetics.com Cosmetics The Body Control Pilates Centre 35 Little Russell Street 020 7636 8900 bodycontrol.co.uk Covent Garden Dental Practice 61g Oldham Walk 020 7836 9161 cgdp.com Covent Garden Dental Spa 68a Neal Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 9107 coventgardendentalspa.co.uk Covent Garden Physio Ground Floor, 23-24 Henrietta Street 020 7497 8974 coventgardenphysio.com Physiotherapists The Covent Garden Salon 69 Endell Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 8362 thecoventgardensalon.com Hair & beauty salon
80 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Crabtree & Evelyn The Market at Covent Garden 3 The Piazza 020 7836 3110 crabtree-evelyn.co.uk Erno Laszlo 13 Market Building 020 3040 3035 ernolaszlo.com Skincare
Nickel 27 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7240 4048 nickelspalondon.co.uk Men only spa Pro Health Store 16 Drury Lane 020 7240 1639 pro-healthstore.co.uk Sports nutrition and health supplements
Good Vibes 14 -16 Betterton Street Goodvibesfitness.co.uk Yoga, Pilates, Power Plates Hair By Fairy 8-10 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials 020 7497 0776 hairbyfairy.com Hair & beauty salon Karine Jackson 24 Litchfield Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 0300 karinejackson.co.uk Hair & beauty salon Kiehl’s 29 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7240 2411 kiehls.com Skincare L’Artisan Parfumeur 13 Market Building 020 3040 3030 artisanparfumeur.com Perfume L’Occitane 6 Market Building 020 7379 6040 Lush 11 Market Building 020 7240 4570 lush.co.uk Mac 38 Neal Street, Seven Dials 020 7379 6820 maccosmetics.com Cosmetics Melvita 17 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard uk.melvita.com Skincare Miller Harris 14 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 9378 millerharris.com Molton Brown Emporium 18 Russell Street 020 7240 8383 moltonbrown.co.uk Skincare & cosmetics Murdock 18 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 3393 7946 murdocklondon.com Barbers Neal’s Yard Remedies 15 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials 020 7739 7222 nealsyardremedies.com Natural remedies & skincare
relax 7 Mercer Street, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 7871 4567 relax.org.uk Beauty and massage centre The Sanctuary 12 Floral Street 0870 770 3350 thesanctuary.co.uk Women only spa Sanrizz 4 Upper St Martin’s Lane 020 7379 8022 sanrizz.co.uk Sassoon 45a Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7240 6635 sassoon.com Hair salon Screen Face 48 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 3955 screenface.com Cosmetics Shu Uemura 24 Neal Street, Seven Dials 020 7240 7635 shu-uemura.co.jp Skincare & cosmetics Space NK 32 Shelton Street, Seven Dials 020 7379 6384 spacenk.co.uk Skincare & cosmetics Stuart Phillips 25 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7379 5304 stuartphillips.co.uk Hair salon Thai Square Spa Thai Square Spa 25 Shelton Street 020 7240 6090 thaisquarespa.com Toni & Guy 4 Henrietta Street 020 7240 7342 toniandguy.com Trevor Sorbie 27 Floral Street 0844 445 6901 trevorsorbie.com Hair salon Walk in Back Rub Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials 020 7836 9111 walkinbackrub.co.uk Massage Yotopia 13 Mercer Street, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 3405 8888 yotopia.co.uk Yoga and pilates studio
Aram Designs 3 Kean Street 020 7240 3933 aram.co.uk Furniture Artbox 14 Thomas Neal’s Centre, Seven Dials 020 7240 0097 artbox.co.uk Fun accessories Berghaus 13 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7379 9313 berghaus.com Outdoor clothing and accessories Cath Kidston 28-32 Shelton Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 4803 cathkidston.co.uk Homewares Coco de Mer 23 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 8882 coco-de-mer.com Womens erotic boutique Covent Garden Academy of Flowers 9 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 7240 6359 academyofflowers.com Flower design courses The Dover Bookshop 18 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 2111 doverbooks.co.uk Design books Ellis Brigham 3-11 Southampton Street 020 7395 1010 ellis-brigham.com Mountain sports Field & Trek 64 Long Acre 020 7379 8167 42 Maiden Lane 020 7379 3793 fieldandtrek.com Outdoor pursuits Frances Hilary 42 Market Building 020 7836 3135 franceshilary.com Gardening Kathmandu 26 Henrietta Street 020 7379 4748 kathmandu.co.uk Outdoor pursuits Kidrobot 19 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 4074 kidrobot.com Designer toys London Marathon Shop 63 Long Acre 020 7240 1244 londonmarathonstore.com Running equipment The North Face 30-32 Southampton Street 020 7240 9577 thenorthface.com Outdoor pursuits
Patagonia 6A Langley Street 020 3137 6518 patagonia.com Outdoor pursuits SJ Dent 34 Great Queen Street 020 7242 6018 sjdent.com Sporting memorabilia Slam City Skates 16 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials 020 7240 0928 slamcity.com Skateboarding equipment Specialized Cycles 11 Mercer Street, St Martin’s Courtyard specializedconceptstore.co.uk Bikes and cycling equipment Spex in the City 1 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7240 0243 spexinthecity.com Eyewear Stanfords 12-14 Long Acre 020 7836 1321 stanfords.co.uk Maps Time2 128 Long Acre 020 7292 1247 time2.co.uk Watches The Tintin Shop 34 Floral Street 020 7836 1131 thetintinshop.uk.com Tintin memorabilia The White Company 5 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 8166 0200 thewhitecompany.com Homewares
FOOD RETAILERS & CAFES Battersea Pie Station 28 Market Building 020 7240 9566 batterseapiestation.co.uk Pies Ben’s Cookies The Market at Covent Garden 13a The Market Building 020 7240 6123 benscookies.com Candy Cakes 36 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 30 Market Building, Lower Courtyard 020 7497 8979 candycakes.eu Bakery Crème de la Crepe 29 The Market Building, Lower Courtyard 020 7836 6896 cremedelacrepe.co.uk Crepes
81 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Double Shot Coffee Company 38 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter 020 7240 9742 doubleshotcoffee.co.uk Ella’s Bakehouse 20a Market Building ellasbakehouse.com Euphorium Bakery Thomas Neal’s Centre, Seven Dials, 020 7379 3608 euphoriumbakery.com Bakery French Bubbles 22 Wellington Street, Opera Quarter frenchbubbles.co.uk Champagne Gelatorino 2 Russell Street, Opera Quarter gelatorino.com Italian gelato Hardy’s Original Sweet Shop 25 New Row 020 7240 2341 Traditional sweet shop Hope and Greenwood 1 Russell Street, Opera Quarter 020 7240 3314 hopeandgreenwood.co.uk Sweets Kastner & Ovens 52 Floral Street 020 7379 6428 Bakers Ladurée 1 Market Building laduree.fr Macarones La Gelateria 27 New Row 020 7836 9559 Italian gelato Monmouth Coffee 27 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7379 3516 monmouthcoffee.co.uk Coffee Neal’s Yard Dairy 17 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7240 5700 nealsyarddairy.co.uk Cheese New Row Coffee 24 New Row 020 3583 6949 Coffee New York Deli The Market at Covent Garden 24 The Piazza 020 7379 3253 Notes Opera Quarter 36 Wellington Street, Opera Quarter 31 St Martin’s Lane notesmusiccoffee.com Wine, coffee and music Patisserie Valerie 15 Bedford Street 020 7379 6428 patisserie-valerie.co.uk Patisserie Primrose Bakery 42 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter primrosebakery.org.uk Cakes
Roast & Conch 4 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials Chocolate Scoop 40 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7240 7086 Italian gelato Sweet Couture 23a New Row sweetcouture.co.uk Cupcakes, cakes and small bites The Tea House 15a Neal Street, Seven Dials 020 7240 7539 Tea Tea Palace 12 Market Building 020 7836 6997 teapalace.co.uk Tea Whittard The Market at Covent Garden 38 The Market Building whittard.co.uk 020 7836 7681 Yu-foria Frozen Yoghurt Co 19a Market Building, Lower Courtyard 020 7240 5532 yu-foria.com Frozen yoghurt
Axis at One Aldwych 1 Aldwych 020 7300 0300 onealdwych.com Modern British Belgo Centraal 50 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 020 7813 2233 belgo-restaurants.co.uk Belgian Bill’s 13 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 7240 8183 bills-website.co.uk Cafe & deli Boulevard Brasserie 38-40 Wellington Street 020 7240 2992 boulevardbrasserie.co.uk Modern European Busaba Eathai 44 Floral Street busaba.com Thai Café des Amis Bar & Restaurant 11-14 Hanover Place, Long Acre 020 7379 3444 cafedesamis.co.uk French Cantina Laredo 10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 7240 0630 cantinalaredo.co.uk Mexican
RESTAURANTS CONTINUED Carluccio’s Garrick Street 020 7836 0990 carluccios.com Italian Chez Gerard 45 Market Building 020 7379 0666 chezgerard.com French Christophers American Bar & Grill 18 Wellington Street, Opera Quarter 020 7240 4222 christophersgrill.com Modern American Clos Maggiore 33 King Street 020 7379 9696 Quality food French Côte 17-21 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter 020 7379 9991 cote-restaurants.co.uk French bistro Dalla Terra 25 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard dallaterra.co.uk Italian wine and food Dishoom 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 7420 9320 dishoom.com Bombay cafe Le Deuxieme 65a Long Acre 020 7379 0033 ledeuxieme.com Modern European The Forge 14 Garrick Street 020 7379 1432 theforgerestaurant.com Modern European Great Queen Street 32 Great Queen Street 020 7242 0622 British Hawksmoor Seven Dials 11 Langley Street 020 7856 2154 thehawksmoor.co.uk Steak and cocktails Hi Sushi Izakaya 27 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter restaurantprivilege.com Japanese The Ivy 1-5 West Street 020 7836 4751 the-ivy.co.uk Modern European Johnstons Brasserie 2 Burleigh Street 020 7497 4185 strandrestaurants.co.uk Brasserie
The Marquis 51/52 Chandos Place themarquiswc2n.co.uk Pub classics J Sheekey 28-32 St Martin’s Court 020 7240 2565 j-sheekey.co.uk Fish and seafood Jamie’s Italian 11 Upper St Martin’s Lane St Martin’s Courtyard 020 3326 6390 jamieoliver.com Kitchen Italia 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 020 7632 9500 kitchen-italia.com Kopapa 32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials kopapa.co.uk 20 7240 6076 Fusion food L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon 13-15 West Street 020 7010 8600 joel-robuchon.com French Les Deux Salons 40-42 William IV Street 020 7420 2050 lesdeuxsalons.co.uk French Loch Fyne Restaurant & Oyster Bar 2-4 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter 020 7240 4999 lochfyne.com Fish and seafood Masala Zone 48 Floral Street 020 7379 0101 masalazone.com Indian Mishkins 25 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter mishkins.co.uk Jewish deli with cocktails Mon Plaisir 21 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 7243 monplaisir.co.uk French Opera Tavern 23 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter 020 7836 3680 operatavern.co.uk Tapas Palm Court Brasserie 39 King Street palmcourtbrasserie.co.uk French PJ’s 30 Wellington Street, Opera Quarter 020 7240 7529 pjscoventgarden.co.uk Bar and grill Porters English Restaurant 17 Henrietta Street 020 7836 6466 porters.uk.com British
82 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
Restorante Aurora 3 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter 020 7836 7585 Italian Rossopomodoro 50-52 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7240 9095 rossopomodoro.co.uk Italian Rules 35 Maiden Lane 020 7836 5314 rules.co.uk British Sagar 31 Catherine Street, Opera Quarter 020 7836 6377 gosagar.com Sarastro 126 Drury Lane 020 7836 0101 sarastro-restaurant.com Turkish/Mediterranean Simurgh 17 Garrick Street 020 7240 7811 simurgh.co.uk Persian Sitaaray 167 Drury Lane 020 7269 6422 sitaaray.com Indian Sofra 36 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter 020 7240 3773 sofra.co.uk Turkish Sophie’s Steakhouse 29-31 Wellington Street 020 7836 8836 sophiessteakhouse.co.uk Steak Souk Medina 1a Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials 020 7240 1796 soukrestaurant.net North African Strada 13-15 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter 020 3077 1127 strada.co.uk Pizza Strand Palace Carvery Exeter Street 020 7497 4160 strandrestaurants.co.uk Carvery SUDA 23 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard 020 7240 8010 suda-thai.com Thai Square 166-170 Shaftesbury Avenue 020 7836 7600 thaisquare.net Thai Wahaca 66 Chandos Place 020 7240 1883 wahaca.com Mexican Wild Food Café 14 Neal’s Yard wildfoodcafe.com Raw food
Arts Theatre 6/7 Great Newport Street 020 7836 2132 artsheatrelondon.com Theatre Cambridge Theatre 32-34 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 0844 412 4652 reallyuseful.com Theatre The Courtauld Gallery Somerset House Strand 020 7848 2526 courtauld.ac.uk Gallery Delicate Mayhem Gallery 3 Russell Street, Opera Quarter delicatemayhem.com Gallery Donmar Warehouse 41 Earlham Street 0870 060 6624 ddonmarwarehouse.com Theatre The Funny Side 33-35 Wellington Street 0870 446 0616 thefunnyside.info Stand up comedy Grosvenor Prints 19 Shelton Street, Seven Dials 020 7836 1979 grosvenorprints.com Antique prints London Coliseum St Martin’s Lane 020 7632 8300 eno.org Opera London Transport Museum Covent Garden Piazza 020 7565 7298 ltmuseum.co.uk Novello Theatre Aldwych 0870 950 0940 novellotheatre.com Theatre The Poetry Cafe 22 Betterton Sreet 020 7420 9887 poetrysoc.com Poetry Royal Opera House Bow Street 0207 240 1200 royalopera.org Opera Somerset House Strand 020 7845 4600 somersethouse.org.uk Tenderpixel Gallery 10 Cecil Court 020 73799464 tenderpixel.com Visual arts Vaudeville Theatre 404 Strand vaudeville-theatre.co.uk Theatre
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83 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
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ALL MARKETS COVERED
We are the only estate agent whose website is available in 8 languages and our world class app for iPad and iPhone receives nearly 500,000 property hits per month. Our local market insight, global network and tailored service are yet more reasons why we are proud to say that Knight Frank has the market covered.
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Knight Frank 120a Mount Street W1K 3NN 0207 499 1012 KnightFrank.com/Lettings firstname.lastname@example.org
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visitors per month visit our Global Residential Search
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A contemporary split-level penthouse offering outstanding entertaining space and breath-taking views over London’s iconic skyline. Comprises 3 double bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, fully-fitted kitchen, multiple balconies, comfort cooling, underfloor heating, designed furnishings and lift. Approx. LETinterior LET244 sqm (2626 sqft). Available furnished Montagu Square, W1H Picton Place, W1U price: £2,500 per week £1,150Guide per week £1,400 per week
Whether you are buying, selling, letting or renting, the Knight Frank Marylebone team is ready to help. Please contact us for expert advice on your local property market. KnightFrank.co.uk/Marylebone email@example.com 020 7483 8349 WORLD CLASS PROPERTIES ON THE KNIGHT FRANK APP FOR IPHONE.
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r at i n g c e l e b2012
Central St Giles WC2H £1,900 per week
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An 8th floor apartment located within this newly built iconic development with 24hr porterage. Comprising a reception room, kitchen, master bedroom with bathroom, 2 double bedrooms, 2 shower rooms, utility room & views across London.
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Lettings 020 3040 8400
88 Covent Garden Journal Issue 16 Summer 2012
A modern well presented maisonette divided across 4 floors & located in the heart of Covent Garden. Comprising a reception room, large kitchen, dining room, 2 double bedrooms, 2 shower rooms (1 en-suite), roof terrace & guest cloakroom.
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Tottenham Street W1T £2,895,000 freehold
Shaftesbury Avenue WC2H £1,795,000 leasehold
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Oxendon Street SW1Y £490,000 leasehold
A stunning Victorian freehold house of considerable style & quality, situated in one of the West End’s most sough-after locations.
A superb recently refurbished studio flat in a choice Covent Garden location above Neal’s Yard. The property also benefits from its own private terrace.
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Published on Sep 29, 2012