Tag Archives: Soho

A goal for 2011.

I’m not a fan of resolutions, they often seem like a reason to just harp on about things you wish you’d do, rather than real goals set with a thought. But it is new year, and this does seem like as good a time as any to do this.

I’m going to live without supermarkets – or at least, I’m going to try. I’m not going to boycott anything, nor am I going to go out of my way to make my life more difficult than it need to be – but i am going to be making an effort to use the shops that are on my doorstep. I’m hoping this will make me think about what I’m eating, cook more often from scratch and to get to know more people in the community I live in rather than the faceless self-check out machines that are increasingly de jour in my local big brand supermarkets.

I do however live in the real world, I’m not expecting this to be a 100% successful experiment initially, but I am going to be making a real effort, and hopefully saving some money along the way to – indeed I hope to save so much money that on the nights when traditionally a splurge of expensive ‘luxury’ ready meals might have been the order of the day that I instead use that money to wander down to a cafe or restaurant instead – once again, doing my bit for the community that I live in.

Biting hard at our local businesses.

It’s the end of June – already, doesn’t seem like two minutes since we were knee deep in Snow. It’s been a busy few weeks at work, and correspondingly it’s been a quiet few weeks on the blog: and the busyness couldn’t be more welcome – it’s been a quiet few months with work with the recession clearly having an impact not just on our business, but on many around us. Many commentators are trying to make out that the recession is a technical term, that it’s only having an impact on certain sectors – but I think that’s increasingly being shown to be untrue – recession’s take time to bite: they don’t suddenly arrive, instead they filter down, slowly using up reserves, making life more critical and making business ever more difficult for those that don’t quickly adapt to the conditions of the day.

It’s been a very sad few weeks on Berwick Street, admittedly it’s never going to win awards for being London’s most glitziest street, but over the years it’s developed a collection of great shops, cafés and restaurants that were always well patronised by anyone that considers themselves a local. Over the last few weeks we’ve lost a great indie fashion label, a record store that’s been on the street for as long as I can remember, a coffee shop that was always busy and the brilliant pie and mash shop, Pastry Pilgrim, all seemingly there one day, gone the next.

Businesses are like that – speaking from very personal experience, you always know things are going wrong, but the catastrophic end always sneaks up – you go from being a fighting chance to over in minutes: and it’s heart-wrenching. Often when you see coverage of ‘the recession’ you hear about job losses, but you don’t often see the individual tragedies, the small businesses, ignored by their banks, run on a pittance and run with heart, soul and endless back-breaking hours of toil: and as tragic as hundreds of people being laid off from a national chain might be, the death of a small business should be given equal billing – as it’s our small businesses that lead the recovery, they’re the major tax-payers, they’re the future – and that should never be forgotten.

So the next time you pass a closed up shop with a bailiff’s bolt through the front door, think long and hard about patronising your local businesses more – right now they need your business more than ever before. The bland, faceless chains will survive, but the businesses that enhance an area and offer you something unique won’t if you don’t spend your money with them. It’s not a good time to be in business right now – getting even a basic business overdraft is almost impossible, banks are raking through past failures and history to find any reason to turn people down. Landlords are getting jumpy about rents being paid, invoices are being paid later and later and some not at all, while all the big chains are more likely to be pushing out bargains to entice customers in to replace high value sales with volume sales that the small business simply can’t compete against.

This country needs entrepreneurs, it needs people to generate new products, new jobs and new markets. So never forget that our small businesses represent the grass roots of all business: because after all, every business has to start somewhere, and that start is almost always small.

Oddest scene in Soho

Very strange scene in Soho this evening – chaos as the one way system got completed snarled because it looked like the lift had made an escape attempt from this building on Broadwick Street, smashed glass and firemen everywhere…

Save the Astoria?

Save the AstoriaAs dear Natalie Imbruglia once sang, ‘I’m Torn’ – and I really am over this: the future of London’s Astoria, the press (notably excluding the Standard) are awash with stories this morning highlighting the campaign, petition and website of Jade and Sarah who are being rather vocal about how something must be done to save London’s “legendary, fantastic” Astoria.

Now on one hand I’m all for the campaign, over the last ten years I’ve had a huge amount of fun in the Astoria, so many thursday, friday and saturday night’s have been danced away in there, watching bands that range from Republica and Texas to Steps and Boyzone, and from Legends like Kylie to passing fads like Ian Van Dahl and Kelly Osbourne. I’ve met many friends in the Astoria, and have fond memories of taking Dave there when we first met before stumbling back on the night bus pissed as farts back to my little flat. Whether it’s creeping in to see new and upcoming bands trying to avoid the goths and teenagers throwing up in the stairwells, or smugly wandering past the crowds who forget to get queue-jump’s for G-A-Y the Astoria’s been a big part of my social life for a long time, and for that reason I’d be really sad to see it go… especially if it’s owners, the developer Derwent Valley, get their own way and build more shops and luxury apartments on the site – like that particular corner of the west end isn’t desperately short of those two commodities!

But on the other hand the building really is a shit hole, it desperately needed renovation when I first crossed it’s threshold (and that was some years ago!) and it still needs it now, the sound system’s rubbish, the lighting rig (for a club at least) is outdated, the whole place is filthy, it’s badly lit throughout with steps that are so easy to miss that not a night goes by without seeing someone go arse over tit in the place… and that’s just the inside, from the outside it’s even worse, the peeling paint, the smashed windows, the cables falling over the place, the lack of entrance space… I could just go on and on, it really is a monstrosity compared to the recently renovated buildings on either side.

My issue here is I’m stuck between my past and the cities future: I’d be saddened to see it go as I’ve had some blinding night out in it, but in the state it’s in right now it’d take millions to put the place right, and I don’t think anyone involved in the ownership of the building right now is going to want pour that sort of money in with the threat of a compulsory purchase order for a new crossrail station hanging over the place… And I’m presuming that their is a clause to redeveloping the site that any developer must build an area into the new building to house the crossrail station should that ever happen (as they did at Moor House in the city…), so to knock the old building down and replace it with a new one with a void for a station within it is probably still millions cheaper than starting remedial work on the virtual ruin that is the Astoria.

Check out the petition here: savetheastoria.org

What a day!

What a day, with a 6am start we had a breakfast meeting with a client kick started by two double shots of espresso in StarBucks, quite why anyone buys coffee from StarBucks unless they absolutely have to is beyond me, all of their coffee is so bitter, it lacks any of the depth of say Illy; anyhoo, meeting over with we headed into Notting Hill to trawl the estate agents, found half of them including Faron Sutaria hadn’t bothered to follow up on simple instructions, and those who we hadn’t already looked with were all short/under-staffed; needing to make a decision we took another look at a place we’d seen earlier in the week and decided to take it then and their, so paperwork done we signed off on the new flat: just need to pay up the deposit before the moving date and then we’ll be the proud new inhabitants of a rather nice 2nd floor flat (2nd if you’re using the ground/first/second floor model) right on Notting Hill Gate, couldn’t be happier to be honest.

With it being 30°C we decided against using the tube or the buses as both are as bad as each other in high-summer; so we walked from Notting Hill to Soho, forgetting entirely that EuroPride was on we stumbled in Old Compton Street to find it awash with poofs of all shapes and sizes, although we quickly figured that most of the twinky types had buggered off to hyde park leaving the rather more eye-candy-licious bears to play in Soho: other than a bitch fight between two trannies (it had to be seen to be believed), it all passed off rather well, we sat in our usual bolt-hole watching the world go by, amusing ourselves at the thought of someone seriously believing that the world could be changed simply by donning blue hotpants. I was amazed quite frankly at the drama some of the stewards made each time an ambulance was required; for some reason there didn’t seem to be a straight ambulance route to Soho Square so they brought three up Frith Street (which was a. packed, and b. filled with Bar Italia’s tables), so every time they needed to bring an ambulance down, two of the campest tits you can imagine ran up and down the street with a siren. Not what you might call restrained crowd control.

After the best part of thirty quid’s worth of food and coffee we decided that we’d had enough and started to wander back to Notting Hill, taking the 94 home; it was once again reinforced why the Routemaster should never have been scrapped when a militant lesbian decided she was going to spend ten minutes shouting at the driver who wouldn’t (or more to the point couldn’t) take her money when she should have bought a ticket before boarding the bus, by the third yelp of “take my fucking money” i was ready to go downstairs and kick her off the bus myself, finally the driver gave in let her ride for free and let the rest of us get on with our journey.

Getting off the bus we were just about to cross the road when I stepped off the pavement, fell into a 6 inch pot hole and ended up flat on my face sprawled between two parked cars f’ing and blinding in agony, I’ve ended up twisting my ankle badly (it’s swelled up to twice it’s normal size) I’ve walloped my other knee leaving a huge bruise and a graze, I’ve hurt both wrists trying to stop myself from falling and I clunked my elbow on a cars bumper, all in all I’m not a happy chappy, quite why the pothole wasn’t fixed I don’t know, as it’s directly outside the tube station and it’s obscured by the high kerb not to mention being in a place people regularly use to cross the road. An ignominious end to what wasn’t actually all too bad a day; I’m pissed off though as with only a month to go before moving house I’m going to spend the best part of next week hobbling around like an invalid… bugger.

Sunny Weekends

Well it’s been a good weekend, had an all day meeting sat in the sunshine yesterday: I’ve never really had ‘garden meetings’ but I may well take them up in the future, it made a five hour meeting seem like a breeze, and having done that we bimbled into Soho to sup cooling smoothies while watching the world go by and, having done that we walked to the nearest restaurant to gorge while being entertained by the next table which was full of loud northern irish girls, the strange thing is without the accent it would have been unbearable, but with a mental image of them all sat in habits with father ted it all seemed so much more bearable.

Soho and the City

How very Carrie Bradshaw, except perhaps without the sense of style and the blonde ringlets, I’ve decided to leave the office today and head out into the sun, so I’m sat in La Creperie, watching Soho go by, surfing the net on my powerbook. It’s dead today, every company seems to have shut down early so people can watch the soccer-ball-mug, or whatever it is that’s turned England into a three syllable word

Saturday Glorious Saturday!

Oh, thank god for the weekend: it’s so nice not to be doing anything today, not to have had any phone calls, or mail to do with any of the businesses and to generally have been able to have got in from a busy night out in Soho last night, get up late and then plan to do absolutely bugger all bar maybe a little tidying up and making food.

Might bimble out for papers later, or might be terribly lazy and call my brother, who now conveniently works in WHSmith around the corner and get him to do it for you… that’s the wonderful thing about younger siblings, it’s a bit like having unpaid slaves. Not that I’d ever expect that! ;oP

Survived the first week.

Well it’s Friday, I’ve managed to (so far) survive my first week in my new and exciting soho job, and it is new and exciting, it’s doing something that I’ve done in the not so distant past, but on a much grander scale, and it’s great fun: I’ve had absolutely no problems working through lunches, and working till 6.30 every day even though I’ve got in at 9, the day fly’s by in a whirl of great ideas, fantastic opportunities, and great people – I couldn’t be happier than a pig in the proverbial!