Tag Archives: Mike Bradley

East End shadows & Soho Star-Spotting

Mike Bradley http://www.brilliamstv.com

A popular perception of what Jack The Ripper might have looked like

The Jack the Ripper tour is a great atmospheric way to walk the murky footsteps of the Ripper who completed five murders in a short space of time in London’s East End. The murders were committed mainly over the summer months, so film-fans, I’m afraid to say a great deal of poetic and historic licence has been taken in the many Ripper gore-fest films as there would have been no fog or mist shrouding that suspicious figure lurking in the shadows. Further information reveals any well dressed psychopath would definitely not have worn a cloak or tall hat at that time as neither were in fashion.

Our guide on the night revealed many of the stop-off points on the walk were still used as filming venues and she had glimpsed Gywneth Paltrow in costume not far from Brick Lane. Priced at only £7 per person, our walk was booked through Jack The Ripper Walk and represented excellent value for money.

Having completed the walk, we checked into the Dean Street Townhouse, high in glamour and low in price providing you’re lucky enough to book one of the ‘Tiny’ rooms at £95 per night. We were lucky, very lucky, to secure such a deal and have as yet been unable to repeat the feat.

The room was extremely cosy with what felt like fine Egyptian cotton sheets along with a wide array of snacks and peanuts in the mini bar. Warning: please don’t repeat our mistake and scoff the nuts thinking they’re free. They’re not, and £17 is a lot to spend on munchies. On the plus side the bathroom is full of fragrant Cowshed products which are free to use in the room – but come with a hefty price tag should you attempt to stuff them into your toiletry bag.

Popular with celebs, Quentin Tarantino had been spotted in the restaurant but he was nowhere to be seen during our stay. On the plus side we did manage to rub shoulders with Tracy Emin’s pencil drawing as we tucked into a full English Breakfast at £11 per head. Coffee and water were complimentary as was the loud business meeting at the next table we were forced to endure for the duration of our breakfast.

Soho Celeb-Spotting

Dean Street Townhouse is perfectly placed if you’re a celebrity spotter and Soho has always reaped great rewards for the ardent star stalker. I’ve seen Ricky Gervais twice, Jarvis Cocker, I’ve sat behind Ricky Hatton at Patisserie Valerie (just round the corner on Old Compton Street) whilst Bill Nighy and Michelle Dewsberry walked by, not together I hasten to add.

I’ve sat inside Patisserie Valerie and watched David Bailey and wife Catherine stroll in, Howard Jacobson brushed past me too and last time I was there former Heartbeat actor Jason Durr was talking loudly in a mid Atlantic drawl to his equally loud American friend. And that was weird, the real life Mike Bradley sat behind an actor who made a name for himself playing a character called…Mike Bradley.

Soho is home to numerous post-production houses where everyone does their voice-overs or catches up with their agents. I’ve seen Mike Leigh and Lenny Henry there too. You can observe the comings and goings at the Groucho Club on Dean Street or The Ivy on West Street and my tip would be to keep your eyes peeled at all times.

Scott’s Restaurant, Mount Street, Mayfair is where Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi are often papped. It’s a posh fish restaurant. We lunched there but were disappointed to only rub shoulders with the many businessmen tucking into their fish and chips. Nigella was nowhere to be seen but photographer Terry O’Neill did pop in so all was not lost.

Frank Finlay hopping on the tube, Josie Lawrence hurrying down Oxford Street, I tell you, the stars are everywhere!

 

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Review: London Voucher and Guide Book

Mike Bradley www.brilliamstv.com

Having negotiated my way through the opening three pages of TakeTwo’s ‘London Voucher and Guide Book,’ I found myself recalling one of Groucho Marx’s funniest quotes, ‘From the moment I picked up your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.”

Published on behalf of the ‘SOS Children’s Villages’ charity, readers are urged to ‘…enjoy the best of London at half the cost.’ And enjoy the best of London at half the cost they certainly can – providing the London Wetland Centre and Fan Museum occupy the top spots on their ‘must-see’ list.

Several colour-coded indexes add to the untidy, cluttered design as do the pages of translated text which crop up at random intervals. A better idea would have been a separate section aimed exclusively at overseas visitors, further broken down by their country of origin.

And there lies the main problem for the book, just who is it aimed at? Many UK and indeed overseas visitors would set their own itinerary in advance no doubt focusing on the attractions and sites we could all reel off without research. However in the unlikely event they are tempted to sample a TakeTwo suggestion, one of the first on offer (the Vintage Red Double Decker Bus Tour and River Cruise) requires advance booking either by telephone or email. Could you be bothered?

If a trip to the Golden Hinde happens to be on your list, you’re in luck…providing you have three other people in your party as the guide book appears to imply their ‘2 for 1’ voucher is only valid when used by four people. I’ve lost interest already.

With gastronomic delights to suit all budgets scattered throughout our capital I was angered by the inclusion of Planet Hollywood which gets the ‘Places to Eat, Drink and Dance’ section underway. Hand on heart, would you?

Having already dug deep and paid a hefty £14.95 for the book, I doubt many readers philanthropy would further extend to spending an extra £29 on a three-and-a-half hour jogging tour or worse still, the special offer price of £30 for the, wait for it, ‘Hairy Goat Photography Mystery Tour.’ No, I hadn’t heard of it either.

Tremendous concept, commendable aim, questionable research, poor execution. Time to TakeTwo on the next edition.

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PJ’s Saves the Day as Ford Motors in

Mike Bradley
www.brilliamstv.com

THE A-Lister above all others, a Maitre d from heaven and the hotel that flattered to deceive – it could only happen in London.

Business trips to the capital are mixed with pleasure as often as possible and this week’s was no exception. Meetings, meetings, theatre, meetings, shopping, meetings, cinema and food.

But relax, my contributions will always be a business-free affair and we’ll begin with lunch on day one. PJ’s in Covent Garden, one of the most atmospheric, quirky and delightfully relaxing restaurants I have visited in years, fed two of us rather well for under £35. The food was delivered without the usual ‘London 30 minute lull’ designed to make you add another expensive soft drink to your bill, was hot on arrival, generous in proportion and cooked to perfection.

But PJ’s dazzling jewel in the crown is without doubt its maitre d and to observe this rarest of breeds – a true professional at work – was an added bonus.

Attentive without an invasion of personal space, polite without the usual front of staff pretence and professional beyond belief: I doff my metaphorical Northern cap to you sir and will return soon.

Star-spotting in the West End

London’s A-Z List

Later that evening, and at my girlfriend’s request I must add, we walked to the Noel Coward Theatre via Leicester Square in the hope of catching a glimpse of, well I didn’t really catch that bit to be honest. Being a sports fan I’m as far removed from the cult of celebrity as humanly possible, but I’m a modern man and my breed are happy to indulge their girlfriend’s star-spotting fascination.
We weren’t alone. All forms of human life from all corners of the globe were present, incorrect and noisy. Hysterical even. And present in huge numbers. I gathered they were there in the biting rain and wind to see, meet, touch, who knows, perhaps an A-Lister along with any number of Z-listers associated with whatever film second rate film was being premiered. However we duly found a position at the very front of the barriers no less but some distance from the hallowed carpet on which whatever ‘celebs’ were expected to tread.

I was underwhelmed, never having understood the fascination with actors, actresses’ and autograph hunting.

Anxious to get take my seat at the Noel Coward for what would be a mesmerising performance of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap, my misery lifted when the first expensive car with ridiculous blacked-out windows (I thought they were illegal?) swept in to view 50 yards or more away. My mood brightened further still when I realised whoever exited would not be visiting the untidy, writhing mass of bodies that threatened to engulf me as we were well beyond their line of vision and I began to visualise the rather more sedate, and classier surroundings of one of the West End’s more beautiful theatres.

Sadly my joy was short-lived as to his eternal credit a figure resembling Rod Stewart’s father began working the crowd like the seasoned pro I was constantly being told he was.

It was an odd affair, as each member of the by now rabid crowd only became placated when Mr Big Time scribbled his name on whatever was being thrust rather ungraciously in front of  him. In a clinical display of efficiency, he was always on the move, avoiding eye contact with the baying mob preferring to scribble his name in one direction while looking ahead at the next autograph stalker’s paltry offering.

He never posed for a picture, he was on the move. He appeared in front of you for a second you clicked your camera or phone he kept on moving.  You missed? Tough. You struck gold? Well you’ll certainly have something to chatter about for a few weeks won’t you.

As he inched closer my excited girlfriend entered a Zen-like calm adding the name of Harrison Ford to her ever-growing list of celebrity encounters. OK fair play, a man approaching 70 shouldn’t have to be a paid up member of ‘meet-a-mob’ but he was and by now had been scribbling his name for almost 45 minutes and that, in this day and age of celebrity greed, is impressive by anybody’s standards.

Shaking Indiana’s Hand

Meanwhile my mind was tried in vain to fathom why nobody offered Indiana their hand or, heaven forbid, engaged him in conversation? Was this against star watching protocol? Who cares. He was almost upon us, marker pen in right hand and appeared surprised, almost bemused, to be caught in my sniper-like stare. I held no photograph, a camera was absent too. I witnessed his eyes narrow in suspicion as my hand went out to meet his. We were so close we could have performed the air-kiss. My hand remained outstretched, our eyes locked together.

The view from the Umi

He stood still for the first time since he emerged from the tranquillity of his car. His pen effortlessly switched sides, we shook hands, I asked how he was –  our hands tightly gripped. He stopped. Nodded. All around the crowd hushed, he looked surprised, almost bewildered. A strange encounter for us both. Our grips released,

he walked on, unsure what had just happened. My girlfriend laughed the laugh of one who had witnessed what would have been unimaginable an hour beforehand –  her boyfriend caught squarely in the world of celebrity. I was left to come to terms with my new found admiration for quite probably the greatest A-Lister in the world.

The hotel that flattered to deceive? Well, a visit there left me angry that I hadn’t seen the warning signs, especially the one that hits you straight between the eyes with the force of a thousand guidebooks and begins, ‘if something sounds too good to be true…’

It was billed as a new concept and the Umi labels itself as one of the top London 3 star hotels. In my opinion it isn’t. It reminded me of a freshly painted, yet still musty and tired around the edges backpackers’ hostel, there wasn’t even a view which may have earned itself some fine words from this particular visitor.

The ominous looking stain...

Still at least my washbasin, for some reason positioned in the bedroom as opposed to the bathroom, came with a stain rather reminiscent of Munch’s ‘The Scream.’

How appropriate.

And finally my review of Angelina Jolie’s ‘The Tourist’ will be brief. Only pay to watch this if you are soon to become a first-time visitor to Venice which looks stunning when featured. Jolie, did not.

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