The Gherkin From The Top

I have now been living on and off in London for 12 years. Just like the amazing Konstantin Binder I consider myself a fan of the place (though I lack his stamina, encyclopaedic knowledge and gift for the narrative) and have been around its quite a few numerous microcosms. Actually. let’s talk about these microcosms for a second: have you ever noticed how each and every tube station that you enter seems to propel you into a different world? There is not one stairwell of the London Metro that delivers you into an area that in the slightest bit resembles the station previous. Each and everyone seem to completely inhabit a different plane of existence, not in anyway connected to the other stations in the vicinity. Only if you actually take a small car and drive from east to west at 5am in the morning on a spring day you start to realise how these dots on the map are connected. I haven’t attempted this yet from north to south, as this would mean venturing south of the river, but I am sure one day this can be achieved as well.

Anyway, back to the Gherkin.

Has there ever been a building that looks more like a mechanised pleasure item for the female nether-regions like Sir Norman Foster’s phenomenal phallic frolic for posh office workers? While I personally think that the building is more a object of ridicule than architecture (although it’s apparently highly ecologically worthy), I’ve never entered it. Until recently.

Searcys (a posh caterer) opened a private club/restaurant on its tip, and it’s a bloody revelation. Apart from the stunning views the architecture offers, the food is impressive, the service immaculate (once they get going), the wine list a revelation and the whole experience worth every penny. Good work Searcys.


(Sorry for the rubbish quality of the pictures. My new Lumix isn’t particularly good at low light situations)


A Bad Taste Explosion on an Olympic Scale



Every evening on my way home I stand in front of this monstrosity and ask myself what kind of architect designs spaces like this or what he or she was on when he came up with it. Sometimes I think the bloke (and it must have been a man. No woman designs stuff like this) who came up with this had a dry spell in his creative flow and looked at his desk drawer and thought: ‘Yes, the official Olympic Shopping Centre in Stratford should look like a large metal filing cupboard with open drawers from the seventies. With glass windows’. And then he went to the pub and told his mates. And by god, did they laugh. And soon gazillions of visitors to London will not only ask themselves why the Olympic Village needa a mall, but also why it has to be so utterly ugly. 


Label Love

London Riots - Sony Distribution Centre Fire

Picture by Jamiejohn

Well, the general uprising of the looting wankers this week destroyed most independent vinyl, dvd’s and cds in a warehouse in Enfield:

I have no doubt that if you’re here you’ll have heard the news that the PIAS distribution centre in Enfield has been burnt down during the London riots. What you may not be aware of is that the warehouse contained the physical stock for many of Britain’s Indie records labels. The subsequent loss of income and cash flow problems that this act of mindless vandalism will bring about may well be enough to push many of the smaller operators out of business.

Our aim is to try and rally the music industry, both on the artist and the audience sides, and see if we can raise some money to see those affected through the tough times ahead.

So please visit Label Love and help the independent music industry in the UK. You know you want to.

St Clements Hospital

There are few spookier things than an old, abandoned psychiatric hospital. How many tortured souls must have been living in the confines of this old Victorian workhouse that was transformed into a psychiatric hospital in 1936. On Mile End Road in the East End of London, you can still marvel at its faded architecture and wonder what the security men who are guarding the place at night must be thinking.

Oh yes, and it’s going to  be converted into a block of flats.






Thinking about moving to London? Really?

Over at Deutsche in London, an expatriate forum for -you guessed it- German expatriates in London, the forums are being inundated by requests from bright eyed and bushy tailed Germans (and, surprisingly, Austrians) who want to flee this mortal coil (or whatever you call life in Germany these days) and move to London, of all places. The requests are of refreshingly naive (‘hello, I am jobless here in Berlin, can I come to London and get a flat and be put on benefits?’ or ‘How long do my 500 pounds last on the housing market’) and wary locals often have to dampen the enthusiasm of the wannabe immgrants by introducing them the realities of inner city London life:

  • If you earn less than 2000 pounds per month and you want to live in the city, re-acquaint yourself with the lovely life of a flat sharer. Live with housemates who pinch your food, make love at 4 am in the morning before your important meeting and insist on drinking 40+ units on a Friday and Saturday night and vomit loudly on their way back to bed.
  • Forget about owning a car: you won’t be able to affort congestion charge and the insurance
  • Embrace public transport: sweat like the rest of your 3 million commuters in the Tube and get coughed on in the bus
  • Enjoy the lively drug dealer in your local park who will eye suspiciously for some time and get assualted by one of their clients.

And don’t forget: these were the good times: oodles of public money pushed into the economy, a banking sector that was spending like heck, quangos and NGOs in the thousands, companies actually hiring. That’s already changing. Councils are preparing themselves for 30% less funds to play with, the NHS is starting to reduce costs and the rest of the public sector is bracing itself for George Osborne’s cuts.  Beneficiaries will be hit hard, and the dole queues are likely to achieve the length of the seventies. The mollycuddled continental Europeans moving to London won’t know what hit them.

So,  if you’re sitting pretty (but bored stiff) in Duesseldorf and you’re thinking about coming over:

Don’t. Enjoy your clean streets and your drug dealer free parks. Coming over here might not be the best thing for your quality of life.