BOOK REVIEW By Belinda Morris
It’s a London Thing – An insider’s guide
By Fred Butler (Prestel, £16.99)
Ask anyone who lives in London and they will probably admit to having their favourite quarter; their comfort zone, their manor. Familiarity breeds contentment in a city of London’s vastness and myriad tribes; it also breeds laziness… and I’m speaking from experience here. I’m holding my hands up, albeit somewhat shamefacedly.
And it’s ridiculous of course, because London has so, so much. Whether you live there or you love visiting it, what you need is a guide with their finger on its pulse. If you don’t want to be a tourist in your own capital city, but want to know its off-grid haunts, you need someone who not only lives and breathes London life, but is happy to share it with you. You need Fred Butler.
The creative/blogger/accessory designer to the stars (she counts Lady Gaga and Bjork among those she has worked with) regards London asa “multicoloured, multifaceted, multicultural, multi-pass to something magic” and offers her insider’s insights; a guide for navigating the streets. Dividing the city into neighbourhoods (Central, North, South, East and West) she helps you to see it as she does… from every possible angle and for every reason. She encompasses shopping, eating, relaxing, working out, soaking up art and culture and hitting the bars and clubs as well as the great outdoors.
There are the places you’ve heard of – The French House, Curzon Cinema, Barbican Portobello Road, Trader Vic’s, Brick Lane, V&A – and almost certainly a fair few that will be unfamiliar… but definitely intriguing. I have already earmarked Prince Charles Cinema (classic and cult movies), the Foundling Museum, Melrose & Morgan (best Chelsea buns apparently) and London Fields Lido… to name a few.
In addition, for a totally well-rounded flavour, Fred has corralled a few of her fellow London-lovers for their top five personal tips on making the most of the city. BBC presenter and DJ Benji B offers the benefits of his knowledge of seminal spaces for imbibing West London’s dance culture (Metalheadz at Blue Note for example); Mark Ogus of salt beef stall Monty’s picks his favourite food spots in the North (like Patty & Bun for the best burgers) and designer Julie Verhoeven… oh joy… selects her favourite Pound shops in the South of the city.
Buy the book… and have ‘the knowledge’.