Monday, 11 November 2019

I Love London



I returned to London last week, just for a few days. It felt like coming home, walking the familiar streets, seeing friends, and eating delicacies that are hard to find in Spain, like spicy Indian food or very soft chocolate chip cookies. I love listening to friends speaking numerous languages on the tube and watching the stylish people rush around the city. On Thursday night, my friend Sarah took me to a Halloween-themed magazine launch party in a members club. The host handed us red cocktails in mock blood-transfusion bags with a long straw, before introducing us to a flirtatious couple. Afterwards we went to Ridley Road for a dance in a bar with wood-paneled walls. I think a Klaxon was playing disco records that night.

Stephanie, a vegan chef, shows me her chains in Dalston

We cruised by a few more pubs before ending up at my favourite one, The Gun, in Hackney. As soon as we arrived, a petite blond in a zip-up patent leather moto suit smiled, and put her arms around me. She complimented my long blue 70s dress and the yellow flowers in my hair. I told her she reminded me of Marianne Faithfull in 'The Girl on a Motorcycle'. I ordered a Paloma and the bartender recognized me from ten years ago, when we used to go to the same parties. I bumped into a friend who invited us to an Italodisco warehouse party in Hackney Wick. A tall, slim, androgynous girl with short dark hair caught my eye. She wore a sheer black blouse, a minimal black bra, a scrap of black underwear...and fringed ass-less chaps. Her boyish looks and clean face added a casual touch to the outfit. It felt like Prince was in the room. She was enchanting. She was from Georgia. We all danced and mingled until the bar closed.

The Dove pub

The rest of my days in London were filled with museum exhibitions and fascinating conversations with beloved friends. I reunited with a friend who had been living in jungles in Thailand and Peru for years. We met as teenagers at a rave in Vauxhall, lived together (she kindly let me stay on her sofa when I first moved to London), worked together (she opened a burlesque supper club and asked me to DJ there), met up on an island in Thailand six years ago...and rode a moped on rocky roads, while a bird flew through my hair, almost causing us to fly off a cliff. I told her to write a book about all the things she learned in the jungle. We drank tea, ate cookies, and told sexy stories.

Homemade cookies by the multi-talented Andreas

Another afternoon I went to the V&A Museum to revisit the excellent Mary Quant show and have tea with my friend Toby. (Quant probably invented the modern miniskirt, thus she is my hero.) I met Toby at a Turkish pool hall in Dalston back when Mark Ronson drank there, surrounded by girls dancing until their shoes broke. (I was one of those girls... I lifted up my friend Karen in an attempt to replicate the final scene in 'Dirty Dancing' and though she is light, on the way down one heel broke off.) The pool hall days are over. Now we meet in art museums. He told me about contextualizing my art with theory, and recommended analysing what I love and hate to arrive at a deeper meaning when creating artworks...

The Ed Ruscha rooms at the Tate Modern

Below is a list of my favourite spots in London, and I'll post some pictures tonight on Instagram @thefortunyverse

FOOD:

Indian food: Dishoom in Shoreditch (they have a mocktail that tastes like snow, it's amazing.)
Tayaabs: a popular, inexpensive, chaotic, classic place behind the mosque in Whitechapel. Order the Saag Aloo and the Peshwari naan. Both places have long lines so try to go off-peak or early.

Sweets: Gelupo has dreamy gelato and the best hot chocolate outside of Torino. Get a small gianduja hot chocolate with whipped cream and go back for the ice cream another day so you don't have a diabetic arrest.
Hummingbird Bakery has the best cupcakes. I like Black Bottom or the gingerbread one.
Ben's Cookies. There are numerous branches. These cookies are great to bring to friends. They're soft, chewy, and very chocolately.

Brunch/ Hangover Food: Stone Cave in Dalston has a wonderful shakshuka (eggs poached in a delicious tomato stew, spiced with paprika, nutmeg, and chili peppers.)
The Diner (Dalston, Shoreditch, Soho) has In &Out-style 'hangar fries', a great vegan breakfast burger and thick milkshakes, with or without booze.

ART:

Usually the Barbican and the V & A have the most unforgettable exhibitions, though you should also see what's on at the Hayward Gallery, the Photographers Gallery in Soho, the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain. If you're going to London soon, check out the Blake show at the Tate Britain and the Lisa Bruce exhibition. Skip the Olafur E at the Tate Modern. (He's usually fantastic but this show is claustrophobic and jammed with people taking selfies. Go upstairs to the free Ed Ruscha rooms instead.) The Tate Modern gift shop is very good too. Peckham has lots of cool little galleries. Sprueth Magers is usually fun and has hip openings.

SHOPPING/ PRESENTS:

Portobello Road: On Friday morning there is a large vintage clothes and antiques market. There's usually nowhere to change so wear a leotard or tights. Next to the vintage stalls, Ladbroke Grove side, there's a little store called What Katie Did that sells a variety of seamed stockings and 50s-style lingerie. I found a beautiful 1970s Biba-style jacket for 40 pounds (after bargaining) and a blue leather Prada belt for 10 pounds. The Biba dresses were 380 pounds, so I only glanced at them longingly.

Broadway Market on Saturday, around lunchtime/ early afternoon. There are 2 excellent art bookstores here and in the market itself, there's a cool French girl who sells wool kilts and retro pieces. Borough Olives sells tasty pestos, harissa, and delicious green olives. This is a fun market for people-watching, pesto sampling, and it's not crowded or touristy like Borough Market. The Dove pub, on the same street,  has a large variety of international beers as well as board games.

Liberty London: A cool but classic, expensive store in a Tudor-style building, made partially of old ships. Upstairs, there are bolts of the famous Liberty-print fabrics. The perfume and stationary sections are interesting too. Amongst the notebooks and pastel pens, they sell gift wrap that looks like old maps.

Paks: They sell all kinds of cheap but intriguing make up in hard-to-find colours, as well as wigs and beauty products. There's one on Ridley Road in Dalston.

The High Street: Holland & Barrett has every kind of vitamin you can imagine, usually on sale, as well as honey soap and health-food store snacks and beauty products. Topshop in Oxford Circus - yes, it's intense, but they still have fun clothes. Right now the Fiorucci x Adidas collection is worth checking out. Boots has all kinds of make up, bandaids, and general pharmacy items. I like the Avène moisturizer and the Kalms One-a-night natural chill pills.

The Girl on a Motorcycle