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MY LONDON - SEPTEMBER, 2001

By Sammy Richman

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How long have you lived in London?

Steve Pemberton: Since 1990. I came here straight from college after spending the summer in Germany with a theatre company that was strangely similar to the Legz Akimbo troupe in League of Gentlemen.
Mark Gatiss: I moved down one year later after staying in Leeds to do odd jobs and a play called Death Warmed Up.

Where do you live and why?

SP: I've just bought a house in East Finchley. Areas without Tubes are underrated, I think. It's the very house that was used for the exterior shots of Ronnie Barker's house in Going Straight.
MG: I'm currently living in Barnsbury, but I'm trying to move, God willing, to Stoke Newington. It's odd, you spend more time buying a pair of jeans than a house. I've only seen the one I'm about to move into once, for about five minutes.

Are you a member of any club?

MG: I jumped the queue for Soho House because our agent was one of the founding members.
SP: Archway Snooker Club. I go there with my friend John Leary who was in Emmerdale for a while. The woman behind the bar recognized him so she gave me free membership.

What's the last book/CD you bought?

MG: Children of the Matrix by David Icke who is clearly seriously ill.
SP: The new Björk CD, Vespertine. It's good for chilling out to, as I believe the young people say.

Where would you most like to spend a 'lost weekend' in London?

SP: In bed. I can't get enough sleep as I have a 15-month-old baby, called Lucas.
MG: I'd like to stay in London over Christmas. There's something magical about the place when no one's around.

What keeps you awake at night?

SP: Can I refer you to my last answer?
MG: The indistinct figure of a man sitting on the end of my bed.

What's your earliest memory of London?

SP: Going to see England Schoolboys at Wembley when I was 11. I thought we'd drive past Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, everything. But Wembley was in the middle of nowhere and to make matters worse, a boy behind me at the match did a 'genie' on me, igniting a small amount of gunpowder in my hair.
MG: Queuing for the Tutankhamun exhibition in 1972. It was incredible.

What is the most beautiful London landmark?

MG: The Great Court of the British Museum and the Post Office Tower, which I'll always call it.
SP: I like the Thames from Waterloo Bridge, even though it's a cliché. It played its part on one of my first dates with my partner, Alison.

And the ugliest?

MG: South London. The whole thing.
SP: I agree entirely.

What's the last film you saw in London? Did you enjoy it?

MG: Planet of the Apes. It was a disgrace.
SP: I saw Together at the Phoenix cinema in East Finchley. It was a great film. Warm-hearted but not saccharine. It reminded me of early Mike Leigh.

When and where did you last get drunk?

MG: After our first night at Drury Lane. We had no idea how good the reaction would be. We were borne aloft that night.

Where is the most intimidating place in London?

SP: I had to buy a tuxedo and went into all the posh shops on King's Road. I find them very intimidating but somehow I don't think that Mark does.

What don't you leave London without?

SP: Joy.
MG: A return ticket.

What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done?

MG: Agreeing to appear on one of those I Love the 1970s shows.
SP: I don't know about the most embarrassing, but the best thing I've ever done was refusing to take part in that programme.

When did you last lose your temper?

MG: All the time. I particularly enjoy shaking my fist at the telly.
SP: Buying a house is designed to make you lose your temper. Every person you deal with is incompetent.

Where did you last blow £2,000 and what was it on?

MG: This suit - made by a tailor on Upper Street.
SP: A bed from the Amazing Emporium in Cricklewood.

What's the first piece of advice you'd give a London tourist?

MG: That it's only a short walk from Leicester Square to Covent Garden. You don't need to get the Tube.
MG: Don't go to Buckingham Palace. Go to St James's Park instead.

What's the last conversation you had with a London cabbie?

SP: I said: 'How long will it take to get to town?' He said: 'Ten minutes.' I said: 'OK.' It took an hour.
MG: New Labour etc.

If you were invisible for the day, where would you go and what would you do?

SP: Break into Buckingham Palace and watch the Queen having a bab. [That's Northern for 'on the throne'.]
MG: I'd wrap myself in bandages and put on dark glasses so I could slowly reveal myself.

Give us your best tip for overcoming depression.

MG: Get a shrink. Worked for me. Or leave London at the weekends.
SP: It's satisfying to write down what you need to do and then do it. Then you can cross it off the list.

What's the most overrated thing in London?

SP: Camden f**king Market.
MG: I wholeheartedly agree.

What do you miss most when you're out of London?

MG: I spent last weekend in Ely, Cambridgeshire. I missed the throb.
SP: The Tube posters. I always enjoy seeing them when I get back from being away. It's like a new world of culture has replaced the old one.

Which shop could you not live without?

SP: The Local Shop, quite literally.
MG: Sainsbury's.

What's the most expensive meal you've had in London and who did you eat it with?

MG: The promoter of our show took us to The Ivy every Thursday. The first time we went we saw Joan Collins, Helena Bonham Carter and Cilla. You can't beat that.
SP: Jesus Christ! Soho House, Islington, The Ivy. We are in danger of sounding like a right couple of luvvies.

What's your favourite meal to cook at home?

MG: Special stuff on toast.
SP: I don't cook. But I throw everything in the cupboard together as well as anyone. 

What is your favourite view?

MG: That man [points to a man in the café slouched over his coffee].

What last made you cry?

MG: England beating Germany 5-1. It wasn't the game, I got overwhelmed seeing the clips again the next day.
SP: My boyfriend forgetting to tape Bargain Hunt this morning.

Where in London would you have your ashes scattered?

MG: I'd never be cremated. It's so dreary. I want a marble effigy at the Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington.
SP: Cherry Tree Woods in East Finchley.

If your house were on fire, which three things would you rescue?

SP: My baby my Bafta, photos and a video of Lucas's first steps.
MG: The Bafta, this scary Victorian monkey Reece [Shearsmith, from LofG] bought me and, of course, my time machine.

 


 

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