I am on Radio 4’s Loose Ends today, a programme I have enjoyed doing since the late 80s. These days it is fronted by the splendid Clive Anderson, pre-recorded on Friday and goes out at 6.15 on Saturday, but back then it was live for an hour at 10am and was hosted by the unforgettable Ned Sherrin. This is a bit from my autobiography about the post-Loose End pleasure of those Saturday mornings…..
“After Ned’s closing topical quip he removed his headphones and rose from the table.
‘Thank you everyone. I am now going to the George pub round the corner. If anyone would like to join me I shall be buying the first round.’ And so, at 11am, we arrived for opening time at the pub, where Ned would buy his promised round, even if there were twenty members of a band supplementing the guests. Here, hair was let down, anecdotes unsuitable for broadcast were told and, occasionally, a liaison was made. The latest I ever left the George was 9 pm but the record was held by David Soul, who, by staying for twelve hours, completed the full day’s drinking session.
More usually, I would leave after a pint and unwind by walking through the West End. Great Portland Street to Oxford Street, where I duck away from the crowds down the avenue that takes you past the Palladium Stage Door, along Great Marlborough Street, right into Berwick Street with its sociable market stalls and So High Soho, a temple of femininity where, for comedy purposes, I sometimes buy funny costumes and copies of the Cunt Colouring Book.
Past the Raymond Revue Bar, left along London’s premier gay thoroughfare, Old Compton Street, to the Cambridge Theatre at Cambridge Circus and down alongside the National Portrait Gallery, siphoning off left before Trafalgar Square to Charing Cross Station, where I take Villiers Street to the river and cross the Hungerford footbridge to Waterloo. On the skyline to my left, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, ahead the Festival Hall and the National Theatre, beneath me the swirling grey waters of the Thames. To the right stand the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Every one of these names recalls stories and characters from my past. Oh London, multicoloured metropolis, the only world city in Europe, the town that bred me, my London, look at the big old capital on a Saturday lunchtime, greeting all the world, relaxed, glamorous, glinting with promise, pulsating with a billion possibilities.”
Lots of Gigs to be found here