London Is Not Mine, Yours or Ours

London. Beautifull deceptive (Photo: Alamy)

London. Beautifully deceptive (Photo: Alamy)

London is the city I was born in. I popped out my mother as she looked at Big Ben. I attended schools in Knightsbridge, Islington and attended Goldsmiths in New Cross before changing to the arts central, hipster university London College of Communication where for three years, the ugliest shopping centre you may ever see South of the River, greeted me everyday and getting on the bus was a day to day struggle made harder by pushchairs and those who don’t know what a queue means. I have a London accent (what is that?! I don’t know either) and I know bus routes extremely well. I can navigate Soho in ten minutes and navigate Clapham Sainsburys  in ten. Those last two things mean something, I assure you.

But London is not mine. A recent talk with my mother, highlighted a problem that I had failed to understand. I was born here, inside this grey, steel city but it is not mine. I cannot say I’ve conquered a day here. I’ve not conquered anything. My conquering consists of getting a seat on the number 2, to be bounced out of it later by a ‘Baby on Board’ badge wielding, sharp faced woman who doesn’t have the bump to back up the badge. London is not mine. Its not even about immigrants for those foolish enough to believe that EVERYTHING is immigrants fault. Immigrants did what my father and my grandfather and my colleagues ancestors did. They came here because they needed money. Who can honestly say that you would pass up the life you know, a life of comfort, pleasures and easy going happiness, to come somewhere where people tut if the bus doesn’t move after five minutes or somewhere where you can put a deposit on a flat only to be kicked out two months later because the landlord sold his soul to Foxtons or whatever because the flats are being changed into even NEWER flats because flats built in 2011 are old flats. 2011/12; old. 2015; brand spanking new. What’s four years when there’s this much monochrome to please your eye as you come home from riding the line especially built for you by old Mags, the Waterloo and City with its shiny turquoise colour that sticks out at you as you stand at Bank waiting for a train a good 15 inches away from the platform. The Waterloo and City line. Probably a line I will never ride in my entire life. Mission of the day: Mind that Sodding Gap.

But that’s London isn’t it?! A gap. London is a series of gaps that, lets face it, will swallow us whole. Mind the gap between the train and the platform. Mind the gap between the employment line and starvation. Mind the gap between classes. Mind the gap between the seats on the bus or else tuts will rain down upon you. Mind the oh so thiiiiiinnnn gap on the newsstands between the now Buzfeed inspired, spelling error clad; free Metro newspaper and the journalism for the quinoa classes whom recently decided that selfies at awards ceremonies and bitchfests about dresses that their staff could not afford in a month of Sundays, was ample journalism. Mind the gap between what flat you can afford on £20k a year vs £24k. Mind the gap between Nandos and MeatLiquor. Mind the gap between 50 Shades of Grey and any random arthouse film (with a similar plot about a pretty French girl with hair black as her sexually starved soul that makes the story a winner at Cannes). Mind the gap between job centre sanctions and being genuinely late for your appointment. Mind the gap between having two part time jobs and paying too much tax meaning you really get a one job income. Mind the gap between being seen as hip in New Cross and shady in Lewisham. Mind the gap between honest living and surfing the property wave because you can afford to do so. Mind the gap between being free to drive and the Congestion Charge zone. Mind the gap between having a degree but not having experience for a job. Mind the gap between the life train coming into the platform. Oh. You didn’t. You’re now dead.

London is not ours because as a population, we have to ride that thin gap between surviving and blatant insanity; seeking pleasure in absolutely everything that every other country sees as pretty much normal. Put the quinoa to one side darling because Bolivia needs you to. Quinoa by the way, is not a fad. It is not a thing for you to pick up as you did Thai food and everything else that the media has managed to take and fad and twist until it trickles down the shelves and becomes available in packet version for 0.57p in Tesco Metro.

Boarded up tailors shop by the Bank of England (Picture: AFP/GETTY)

London is not ours because we should not pay so much money for basic human needs such as shelter, food, clothing and water. Someone tell me why, when I’ve found somewhere in London that I really want to live (I’m not saying where because that area is mine and I’ll be darned if I say where it is), I cannot afford it on a salary lower than £25k. A salary so far away despite a degree. A salary far away because I’m an £8ph temp. This is what London has given me. A temp job. In a media company that I’m struggling to get into after three rejections even though I’ve been here since September. And that last sentence has probably burnt my bridges.

In Twitter fashion, I say living in London is the lifestyle equivalent to YOLO. Why YOLO? YOLO means you only live once so you better have a good time, you sassy, body painted, beach wave haired fashionista! I say YOLO. Not because its cool, but because apparently, YOLO also means I’ll grab a selfie stick, somehow get tons of money and spend time selfie sticking my way around Asia annoying the people of each town by bearing down upon them with my beaded bracelet clad arm permanently fixed around anybody who stopped long enough to cross a road, shoving selfie sticks at them for them to join my pose! I’m so fun! YOLO in London means I’ll spend £17 on a burger because the guy cooking it has a beard and smells like a farm. YOLO. YOLO in London means you’ll stand for ages to get into a restaurant because restaurants have decided that they no longer want venues that seat more than 30 and those outside better work for their food. YOLO means I have had a cold since November but if I don’t go in, I may lose my job then my flat then my stuff etc. YOLO in London means….so many things. Thankfully, YOLO is not a London saying.

No to YOLO.

No YOLO allowed here. Here, in London, we have ‘yeah alright’ because that’s what life in London is. London is alright. London is cool. We have a beautiful (cough) transport system that was once the best in the world, still is…if you don’t travel on a Saturday…or Monday…Tuesday….Wednesday…Thursday or Friday between 5am and 7pm. We have a city that behaved itself for two weeks during the Olympics which proved by the way, that London can do stuff right when the world’s eye is upon us and we have Russians in awesome sports jacket walking round Stratford. Oh London. London knows how to get prettied up and show its best face. Just don’t look at the tan lines on its back or the lipstick on its teeth.

Courtesy of Londonischanging.org & citylab.com (Duarte Carrilho da Graça)

Anyway, London is not ours because we’ve let it slip from our grasp. We sold Canary Wharf to the Qataris (again, not racism but true) and insist upon letting rich people from anywhere in the world, buy anything they want. London, when did you become a whore?! Allowing someone to do what they want to you, whilst you lie and take it, because you’re paid to do so, is being a whore. OK fine. A Lady of the night then.

London isn’t mine. Its not my mum’s or my best friend’s or my brother’s nor is it any of these people’s who have become so disillusioned with life here that they’d rather move to the North of England than stay here.

We as Londoners need to be honest and say London isn’t ours and we want to try to change that rather than just leave. Because if we leave then what are we doing? Allowing someone or something to take our place. I live in SW2. I guarantee that if my family moved, a new family would move in and it would be like we never existed. Everywhere is like that but its still a worrying idea. Then it’ll be like we never existed. But for goodness sake, could we also not exclude our own people by taking on everything that happens outside of the UK, in a desperate attempt to be different?! Ok fine, lets take on the street food mentality but for the love of goodness, don’t tell me I can only find your food in some particular corner of Southbank on a Saturday night IF its weather permitting! I don’t care how good your food is.

Can we stop getting rid of anything remotely linked to our image as a whole!? No matter how ugly it is? No matter how many times someone has thrown up against it at 4am?

London is mine. London is yours. London is ours. Just don’t expect anything of it but to take your money every January for the same tube service that delayed last year and tell you to pay £17 for a cinema ticket.

And yes yes yes I know I could move. But doesn’t mean I will. Or want to. And yes, some may say, well why not just not use some services.

Here is a plastic cup. Here is some water. Do you want to use your hands instead of the cup?

Buck up London. You’re losing the people who truly know you.

I started writing this post after reading this halfway through. I never do get to finish an article in an hour. Someone needs a room booking. But read it. You can read this too if you want. An article bemoaning of London being privatised every which way but up.

Oh no sorry, the sky is being privatised as we speak.

Long Term Work Experience vs Internships

I recently attended an interview. It was a pleasant experience and actually has boosted my confidence after a long period of self loathing and low self-esteem. One of the simple questions I was asked by one of the interviewers was why I don’t have a job yet.

Now, make no mistake, this is not the misery and extremely angst filled blog posts that used to come before. This is me thinking but through words. Why don’t I have a job yet? Well I’ve not had paid employment since 2012. But as I said in the interview, I made sure that rather than being a good but lazy writer, I would seek opportunities.

In 2012, I was in my second year and was hoping to gain the coveted internships with the big names. I applied for radio station and other companies’ internships to which I was always turned down. My university peers meanwhile were getting one to two month long internships with magazines like FHM, Empire, Time Out, and Nylon, as well as others. I applied for these magazines too but was turned down.

When I finally got my act together and remembered the close contact I had in Emma Warren who had told me about Live Magazine back in 2010, I went to the next induction and became a volunteer writer. For three months I wrote about anything I could. When a role came up as a Culture Editor, I applied and got the position. I was no longer just a journalist, I was an editor.

Two years later, I’m still editor. I’m still there. In two years I’ve learnt more than I’d have learnt in a month with the bigger, more well known companies. But yet, my peers were getting work faster than I was and they still are.

On Tuesday last, I finally spoke up in honesty during the interview and said that those companies in the last year who have turned me down in my quest to find work did not give me a chance. They did not allow me to show them that just because Live and now Shine Aloud (sexual health magazine run by one of my closest friends of which I am content editor) were not paid roles, did not mean that I and all the others who worked hard and grafted for years for free to have their names on these volunteer websites and in these volunteer magazines, were any less people or journalists.

One month internships consist of a month of answering phones, maybe interviewing the odd celebrity, attending but not saying anything at the odd photo shoot and sub editing the copy of those who could do it themselves (heck, what are they paid to do?). In a month, you’d be replaced and your cv would list this name where you filled space for a month.

Now, the cv with five to six different well known media companies may be impressive and yeah I get that it is, but why didn’t my peers get jobs working full time at Empire or FHM etc when they left university? Why aren’t they working there now? Maybe because the role isn’t open etc. But maybe it’s because a real employer (whether small time company or big name brand) knows that one month sorting post in Soho doesn’t qualify someone to have a job with them just because they worked with that same company for a month in the past. One month taking pictures of the uber cool wall photos in the hip and trendy office does not mean they know how to transcribe an hour long interview. I’ve done that. It’s long and tedious and for every one hour that interview lasted, transcribing it takes two.

Of course you can say, well you’re still unemployed and yeah that is true. I am. But I say this to all media employers out there:

Look at my two years as an editor, look at my responsibilities and my duties and look at the person in front of you. I may not look the part but everything on my cv is what I have done. A month at Dazed and Confused is impressive yes. But two years giving myself to a NON PAID, voluntary position where the only pay is seeing your name in print or receiving gifts from the Tate because of your relationship with them is just as rewarding and means just as much. I could have said, “thanks Live but I’m doing all this and not getting paid so I’m gone” but I didn’t.

I would still take two solid years working with a magazine like Live and get a voluntary high position role over working for just one month for a big name magazine who let’s me sort post but gives me no job afterwards. You’re more likely to be forgotten. A name in a HR record.

To media students etc, places like Live are your chance to shine. A chance to give all of yourself and grow without the worry of how long it lasts. A chance to write about anything and be a credible writer. Get hands-on tutelage and real life magazine or news room experience. To media companies, I may not have a paid role yet, but I can do the responsibilities this job description lists.

I am just as hard working and able as my peers. I’m not asking for you to take a chance on me because I’m desperate. I’m not a beggar. I’m telling you to open your eyes beyond the inexperienced, look-the-part media persons out there whose month at Elle encompassed duties that can be listed in three bullet points and who say the right things but cannot tell the difference between your and you’re.

My long term work experience has equipped me to work hard in this desired and applied for post. Open your eyes because you’re letting the good ones go.

Porn Vs Reality

Never before has porn been so accessible. Within seconds of innocently typing boob, babe or blow into Google, your page becomes flooded with images of men and women in their birthday suits doing the dirty. Men usually appear naked, heavily endowed, with toned abs and arms covered in baby oil from head to toe. Women, on the other hand, are dressed in raunchy lingerie, two sizes too small, with a face full of make up, 10 inch heels and positioned erotically with their legs or mouths wide open. Is this what sex is really like? Is this really? Is it even a pretty sight?! Not really.

When a young man watches porn, he begins to believe he should have a sizeable penis and that whichever girl he does indeed have sex with, should be shaved, have large breasts and preferably keep high heel shoes on the entire time. He’ll believe that he has to last as long as the men in the porno (which can last the same amount of time as a feature film) and if he doesn’t he is not a real man. Similarly, in the case of a young woman who has never had sex before; she may look at porn and think one of two things: that her first time will be passionate, rough and hopefully will last long enough to encompass at least two or more positions including oral sex. Alternatively she may feel she’ll never be able to match to the women in videos sexually and therefore she must shave her genitalia to appear sexier, make sure her body is ‘porn perfect’ with sizeable breasts (often fake), excessive make up, long hair and a thin frame.

In porn, everything is good. Sex looks positively fantastic. It’s never a bad experience and its never unsatisfactory. It never lasts just ten seconds….like it has before. There are no broken hearts, your partner never gets up and leaves halfway through leaving you with no dignity and no clue what to do next. Whether to shower or sit in shame. There are also no condoms, meaning that more morning after pills and spermicide fly around that production set like nobody’s business. This also probably means that there are no STIs to worry about? Clearly this is all wrong however. Porn does not explain the realities – or cons – of sex. Porn is a multi-billion pound industry made to entertain, so just as we are meant to be entertained and excited by box office blockbusters with engaging but often exaggerated storylines and characters, porn does the same.

Of course sex can be a wonderful experience for couples that is filled with love, comfort and a cementing of their partnership but it is not always so. In reality a man can have such harrowing experiences as premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction – making him fearful of sex. A woman might not be able to become ‘wet’ enough to ease the pain of her partner entering her. And for a person who is a sex addict, they may never be fully satisfied. Sex can be extremely complicated and these issues can make it tough to enjoy the act.

The reality of real life sex is that there won’t be a hot woman living next door who knocks asking for a cup of sugar in her Victoria’s Secret lingerie or there won’t be a sweaty fireman who shows up at your door, after you’ve broken up with your boyfriend to hump your feelings better because we all know, sex is the ONLY way to make everything better. Right? Wrong. In reality, when you’re sad, you’re sad and if you’re in a long distance relationship, your partner won’t be there at all.

Porn is not a new concept but it is not what it once was. Compared to the likes of Sinn Sage, Stoya and James Deen (who apparently wanted to be a porn star from the age of four or five), the pornography that pre-dates 2010 was nothing short of prehistoric. Everything was tacky. The hair, the make up, the sets and the scripts. A thin veil was used to separate shots of two people at it like rabbits. Make no mistake; “Oh, I didn’t know you were going to be here!” was a genuine line in porn films.

Since porn is so readily available and less regulated it has become so much more than just blurry videos where a man and woman have vigorous sex in a car speeding down a highway. There are so many different types of porn available. For example (NSFW), girl on girl, anal, blowjob, squirting, Asian, Ebony, BBW, masturbation, double penetration, lesbian, gay, amateur, MILF, threesomes and Latino to name but a few of a list comprising over thirty different categories. Id’ write them all but I don’t really want to.

It has more expensive sets and even has a hipster side to it. Porn with Ray-Bans. Cool. Not. Websites like Tumblr dedicate blogs to various porn stars who can reply back to fans, giving an opportunity for viewers to talk to the men and women whose anatomy they know better than their very own.

Or If you want to find Brazilian girls vomiting in each others mouths whilst eating each other’s faeces, it’s on the internet. Or if you want to see a woman humping a horse or a man pleasuring himself with a glass jar (one of the most harrowing things to watch since childbirth), it can be found. There is something for ever single mood and fantasy.

Pornography is a very powerful tool and although it influences how we act and behave in a relationship or sexually, watching and viewing porn is a personal choice, something that you should not be forced or bullied into doing. Videos should be restricted to the age guidance certificate. Encouraging someone under 16 years of age to look at porn is sexual abuse. Porn is illegal if it is ‘judged to have a tendency to deprave and corrupt the intended audience’. Possessing or downloading child pornography is a serious criminal offence and rightly can lead to long term prison sentences. Most newsagents will not sell top-shelf magazines to anyone under 18.

In reality, sex is something that has a lot more confusion than conclusion. The outcome of your sex life will only depend on how you view sex. For some, porn is still considered disgusting, abhorrent and perverted but sadly, in reality, there are many young people who are deeply immersed in pornography as a means of learning about sex.

Can we blame the media for sexual promiscuity? Maybe….

(I wrote this article for Shine Aloud, a sexual health magazine. People of an angry disposition, read on)

Sex is everywhere. Everyone knows that. There is sex on television, in adverts, magazines and the internet. Sex in music has never been so explicit. Women are seen as sex objects and men are spearheading campaigns to lay waste to women ‘in the club’. Where children and young people were once never exposed to sex, it is now so readily available. With such a monumental jump in how sex is treated by the media and companies, is it any wonder that young people have never been so sexually active?

During the Christmas period, the number of sexually suggestive perfume advertisements doubles in number. Such famous examples are Jean Paul Gaultier whose naked vixen wakes up alone after a night with a sailor suggests that sex with an unknown companion is perfectly acceptable.  At least over 75% of perfume adverts give that same message to young people.

For the more established porn-monger, there is no need to joke about finding pornography in the woods or stumbling upon your father’s nude magazines accidently because Playboy has its own website and television channel that makes sex easy to see. You needn’t even cast your eyes to the top shelf in the newsagents as Nuts and Zoo magazine are at eye level. The buxom, the ‘beautiful’, and the vapid are right there for you, any child and any teen to take a quick look.

Recently on Channel 4, a number of sex shows geared at adults have been on air. Dogging Tales looks at members of the public who like to have sex with strangers in lay-bys. The television show attracted 1.9 million viewers during its 10pm slot and was most popular amongst 16-34 year olds. Isn’t that funny? A tv show about sex aimed at grown ups and the youngest age is 16. If we get a rise in teen doggers….be worried.

So who do we blame? Do we blame? Blame has always been the easiest way. It’s a part of nature. Sex sells. Everyone knows sex sells. But when sex is sold to children and young people, is there thought for what happens next?

Well, we can aim to educate young people and we have. Since 2006, there have been waves of television channels around the world including the United Kingdom, America, Canada and Australia showing open and realistic depictions of sex and the body.

Channel 5 aired ‘A Girl’s Guide to 21st Century Sex’ in 2006 which ran for only eight episodes. Still available on the internet, every episode explained a sexual position and a sexually transmitted disease. The television show had extremely up close and personal acts of sex that were designed to educate and enlighten. Ofcom responded to controversy made by viewers that “the portrayal of sex in this programme genuinely sought to inform and educate on sex”.

In 2008, Channel 4 launched the widely popular and extremely effective ‘Sex Education Show’ which allowed adults to sit together and talk frankly about sex. When it first aired, it caused controversy as secondary school pupils were shown pictures of male and female genitalia. The shock that teenagers were shown these pictures in the first place was deemed to damage an innocent nation.

In America, the video podcast series ‘Midwest Teen Sex Show’ that began airing in 2007 became so popular; it was watched by 125,000 viewers per episode, of which there were 21. The tongue in cheek and often hilarious depictions of awkward dating and sexual situations were more realistic than the perfume adverts at Christmas, such as having sex whilst parents are in the other room and the mysteries of anal sex.

All of the television shows that have been used as examples, have sex and young people at the forefront of their agenda. Some showed the graphic ugliness of a person afflicted by syphilis or chlamydia. Teaching young people about sex is a game of two halves. A television show can show a couple, married and in love having consensual sex but it widely known that for young people in recent years, there has not just been a rise in sexual activity but unsafe unplanned sexual activity and that is where the problems lie.

A Huffington Post article in June 2013 revealed that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in England. Whilst that is not surprising news, the health implications are too shocking to ignore. The idea that a 16 year old will develop severe body issues including dementia twenty years down the line, is serious. Not enough young people are being screened for sexual diseases and infections whilst choosing to abstain from using contraception.

The London Borough of Bromley will be launching new health functions to teach young people about safe sex. There is hope that this will spread across to other London boroughs.

The most vital and important thing for young people to understand, is that there is the right sexual health information available. For many young people, the smoke often clouds the way. The want to emulate the attractive young couple on television, often slim and immaculate, is desirable for viewers. Many teenagers experience their first relationship at age 14 which is the age where young men and women are most aware of the changes in their bodies and sex is a new enigma.

A young person new to sex, would see the sexual situation on television (often unbelievable to adults….hopefully) as real life and obtainable. The sad truth is that for many, the act of sex is not seen as the life changing thing that it really is. The changes to your body, thought processes and mannerisms are unlike any other.

In the UK, where sex and sexually transmitted diseases are so prominent, the need for education is so much greater. For heterosexual and homosexual couples, there are no exceptions. Only when sex is explained thoroughly with every pro, con, possibility of pregnancy, misunderstanding and question answered and explained can young people of the right age, continue to have sexual relations. In a country where we have the Brook Centre, sexual health clinics and many books that focus solely on teaching about sexual health, there is no excuse as to why sexually transmitted diseases need to continue to spread.

Review: B-Soho

Hello All.

Its Christmas!!! Actually, its not Christmas at all but well, MTV has a Christmas channel and so does Sky Movies. I’ve heard Wham about 9 times and I’m already tired of the Pogues. Christmas is upon us. I love Christmas. Its a very London Christmas tradition to battle the crowds in the Central London area from the 6th December right up to the 23rd for things we conveniently haven’t gotten yet or for the things we suddenly need to find out about. Bottom line is, most of us, like Oxford Street at Christmas and I kinda do too.

Where my new review comes into it, is for those who want somewhere to go that is mellow, welcoming and happily calm. B-Soho is a great Christmas getaway that is located opposite HMV on Oxford Circus. Check it out soon.

Top 10 things we learned about B-Soho bar and restaurant when we visited:

1) If you’re suffering from Christmas crowd anger in the Oxford Street-Soho area, B-Soho is the perfect getaway, buzzing with the right kind of chilled music and happy crowd. Once you’ve stepped inside, it’s easy to forget that every shop in the area is a zoo.

2) All are welcome. Great for dates, mates and family. Friends will appreciate it, your mum will appreciate it. It’s also the ideal place to go with work colleagues if you need a cocktail to wipe away the last six hours of your life.

3) B-Soho has a delectable menu. You’ll be stuck for choice. The pasta sound good. The pizzas sound good. The desserts sound good. I’d even try a salad because they sound good too. Aww hell, where to start?

4) I’m not a vegetarian but I had a vegetarian starter. That tells you something. The Arrancini B-Soho is one of the best starters. Mushrooms and cheese never tasted so good at Christmas, even better than that turkey.

5) Because this is a Neapolitan pizzeria, B-Soho must, and does, excel more than your usual pizza restaurant. Toppings like salami, Italian pork sausage, and even pistachio nuts provide nice pizzas with a difference. I was impressed that the pizzas even filled the plate.

6) They have the cheesiest, woahiest, most flavoursome calzone that I’ve ever tried. Seriously beautiful.

7) Since eating the best tiramisu in London elsewhere, I’ve become a deep fan. B-Soho’s tiramisu is delicious and incredibly light, perfect after the heavy main. It will fill all the chocolate cracks in your body, especially after all that cheese.

8) B-Soho have a cocktail menu that will make you ooh and aah. I don’t know how they managed to make a horrifying experience (for me, anyway) such as Sports Day into a delicious cocktail, but they did. I urge you to try the bubblegum based Day at the Fair, the flaming Love Bomb, and the sweeter than the real thing Sweet Sixteen. Don’t stick to your usual cocktails, try something new. It’s a must.

9) The price is incredibly good for the fantastic quality. To top it off, the staff are equally fantastic (thank you Monika).

10) Take comfort in knowing that for a few hours, its about chilling out with great food and great company, and about not the queues or the Christmas presents.

Review: The Underbrook

Top 10 things we learned about The Underbrook pub when we visited:
1) The Underbook pub is nestled in a neighbourhood off the beaten track, a small distance from the main road. It’s still close enough to High Street Kensington, though, if you want an awesome bite to eat after shopping.

2) Behind the Medieval door, the chic two-floor pub has tons of character, is extremely homely, yet possess a kicking atmosphere. Need good company to get over the winter blues? You’ve found it.

3) The Underbrook gets pretty raucous! Don’t like noise? That’s OK. You’re just a bit boring. No, seriously, it’s welcoming and joining in the fun is never harmful for your health.

4) Pubs that serve food are old news. Pubs that serve fine food should be noted and saluted. When you find that special pub, it tends to become a favourite frequenter. The Underbrook excels by creating a menu that’s similar to a restaurant in quality and variety: risotto, burgers and tempting vegetarian options for those crazy about leaves.

5) The Underbrook knows how to cook squid. Bona fide damn good squid can be found here for those who still haven’t tried it; a great start to begin of your culinary journey over the next few hours of your life. They also have a beautiful goats cheese salad that hits every spot that needs hitting.

6) The pulled pork burger is as delicious as any that can be found at a BBQ restaurant. The Underbrook also make gorgeous chilli green beans as a side dish that go very well with their homemade coleslaw, their burgers, and gosh I need to go back there right now and have some more.

7) Desserts are simple but who doesn’t like simple. Sticky toffee pudding: simple. Cheesecake: simple. Dessert needn’t be fancy; it just has to end the meal on a cheerful note.

8) It’s a pub, so expect beers, wines and spirits and the odd cocktail. Their bloody Mary has more kick than a football player; highly recommended.

9) Kensington is known for being expensive; sell-the-kids-and-re-mortgage-the-house expensive. The Underbrook allows you to keep your kids (if you still want to) as the prices are satisfactory.

10) A Saturday evening spent amongst helpful staff, cool music and even cooler people makes for one riotously cool, cool, cool evening. Just remember, you will have to go home eventually.

Review: Fallen in Love @ Tower of London

There have been many film and television adaptations and books that focus on the life of Anne Boleyn. Showtime’s historically inaccurate and sexually charged The Tudors is one such case where viewers best pretend that the characters were not real people in British history.

One of the central arguments over Anne Boleyn’s execution is the unfair accusation of witchcraft, incest and adultery. Some say she did or almost did commit incest as seen in the Other Boleyn Girl whilst historians call the charges against Boleyn a desperate call from Henry VIII to be rid of Anne Boleyn.

With the many different versions of events that can be found, one can be forgiven for getting history wrong.  With all of these errors in place, how does one make a theatre production that gets it right?

Joanna Carrick’s Fallen in Love does so by stripping away the usual rules that come with putting on a historical theatre production. There are only two people on stage the entire time leaving you feeling the intimate nature of the relationship between brother and sister.  You see no-one else; hear no-one else and think about no-one else. The costumes are realistic, the dancing spot on and the actors engaging and mesmerising.

Independent theatre company Red Rose Chain’s choice for the play’s location is not short of brilliant. Staged in the banqueting hall of the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn famously spent the last days of her life, the play starts with Anne and George Boleyn as carefree teenagers thus setting the tone for the rest of the play which is a timeline from 1520 to their death in 1536.

Carrick showed her ability to invoke laughter when only a few moments before you were uncomfortably watching Anne Boleyn kiss her brother in the same fashion a young lover kisses her beau and keep you laughing throughout the production.

An engaging play is not without engaging actors. Emma Connell as Anne Boleyn is thoroughly believable, powerfully assertive and charming. With every raise of her voice comes an eyebrow raise and slight flinch that puts weight on the description of Anne Boleyn as a strong woman at a time when women were not so strong. Scott Ellis’s brilliant George Boleyn is funny, emotive and authentic and touching until the end. Both actors’ energy and presence truly bring you into the play. The heaviness of the roles could make even the best actors become hammy and tiresome but the success of the play is due to the right balance of fantastic script writing, accurate casting and the always necessary historical accuracy.