My London: Alex James
The London Evening Standard
Chioma Nnadi
12 July 2002

Blur bass player Alex James is a true London aficionado. He's lived in Covent Garden for years, loves Trafalgar Square and thinks Hyde Park has 'the greatest concentration of nutters in Europe'. Chioma Nnadi poses the questions...

How long have you lived in London? Since 1988, when I came to do a French degree at Goldsmiths College. Graham Coxon [his bandmate] was the very first person I clapped eyes on when I arrived.

Where do you live and why? I live in Seven Dials in Covent Garden. I've tried to move out, gone to other parts of London to look at houses, but I always get back thinking, 'Thank God I'm home.' I did move house once, but kept the same postcode.

If money were no object, where in London would you like to live? I'd build a house in the middle of Regent's Park. For the ready-mades, I do like those houses on the eastern side of Green Park. There's a sense of infinite peace about them. The minor palaces, you know, the ones next to the Queen Mum's.

What is your idea of a perfect Friday night? London is the best city in the world. Your whole life can change as a result of a Friday night out in London. That's why we live here. So something completely unplanned, I suppose. JB Priestley described the West End very well, it's just millions of people looking for each other.

Are you a member of any club? Private members' clubs are rubbish. You're better off going to the Hippodrome. Crap pubs with great company are always your best option.

Do you have a local restaurant or pub? Gaby's Deli on Charing Cross Road. Their falafels are amazing. They always slip me a free gherkin.

What is the most beautiful London landmark? Trafalgar Square. I like the fact that whenever anything good happens, it's like, 'Let's all go down to Trafalgar Square.'

And the ugliest? Waterloo Bridge is really ugly, despite the fact that, if you stand on it, it has the best view.

What is your favourite view? Coming in to land at Heathrow. London looks really pretty from the air. You realise what a green city it is.

Where is the most intimidating place in London? London isn't intimidating. You're all right so long as you don't wander round with a camcorder.

What was the last book you bought? The Big Sleep and Other Novels by Raymond Chandler. It's James Bond for grown-ups.

What was the last play you saw in London and did you enjoy it? Jesus Hopped the A Train, at the Arts Theatre. It went right over my head. I'd have liked to have seen more girls dancing really.

What has been your most memorable night out? It started in Soho and ended up in Reading. First, we bought the taxi we were in for about a grand. Then Keith [Allen] bought a tramp; he came a bit cheaper. We ended up driving the taxi on to the stage at the Reading Festival. You can get anywhere in a black cab, you know.

Where do you exercise? I run around Buckingham Palace three times a week. The first time I did it, I got a few strange looks. I hate running, but I'd rather be in pain than fat.

Which would you choose: Hyde Park or Hampstead Heath? Hyde Park. It's got the greatest concentration of nutters in Western Europe.

Selfridges or Harvey Nicks? Selfridges - because they let you smoke.

Where in London would you want to be taken on a date? I'd like to be taken for a walk around London. It's one of the most romantic things you can do. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were always strolling around London.

Who last saw you naked? Justine Andrews, my girlfriend.

What is the first piece of advice you'd give a London tourist? Go to the British Museum. We've got all your stuff there.

What is your favourite bus route? I'd say the number 12. It's the glamour run, but you've got to do it going from Peckham to Notting Hill. It's like when you do Australia and New Zealand, you've got to go to New Zealand first.

If you were Mayor, what would you change? My story.

What did you dream about last night? Bears. They were having a picnic. My dreams aren't making much sense at the moment.

Have you ever been a victim of crime in London? I had my mobile nicked near my house late last year. The fight-or-flight thing kicked in big time. Mine was the fight response. I chased them for about half a dozen blocks. The police said it was a good job I didn't catch them. It's amazing how everything you tell your girlfriend not to do, you end up doing. Something very primal happens. I would have tried to kill them.

What is the most expensive meal you've had in London and who were you with? I was with my mum and the bill came to about ?1;,000. It was a 12-course special. Just when you thought you couldn't eat any more out came something even more dainty.

What is your favourite meal to cook at home? Cauliflower cheese. But my quest for the perfect mashed potato goes on. If you've got fifty quid to blow then get a white truffle. It's cocaine for foodies. Just slice it on top of the mash, it's fantastic.

What last made you cry? When I last tried to do the splits.

What would you put on the Trafalgar Square plinth? A pigeon sniper.

Where in London would you have your ashes scattered? I don't think I want to be burnt. I'd quite like to be slung into the Thames, whole.