Nadia Lee Cohen's My London: From Trisha's to F Cooke's old pie and mash shop

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

Home is...

Silver Lake in Los Angeles. But home is also London, Paris and of course Essex, where my parents live. I’m back and forth between all of them so often that I can hardly justify any as ‘home’. But LA’s where my wardrobe is... and it relates to the saying about ‘hats and home’, so that must be the right one.

Where was your first flat?

Pennard Mansions on Goldhawk Road. It had no heating, single-glazed windows and the rent was 400 quid a month. The only reason I chose to live there was because it was a stone’s throw away from my campus at LCF. Still no justification for living in that area for so long. I lived directly beneath a retired art teacher in his 90s and I’d go up to his flat for tea and a chat. I once lent him a book on Lee Miller before going on holiday. When I got back, I went up to see him and he excitedly showed me the book as though it were his own. It was early onset dementia and heartbreaking; I didn’t ask for the book back.

Most memorable meal?

The India Club! But you can forget going there now because it’s gone. I actually managed to eat there on the night it closed. It was an unpretentious little canteen on the Strand, disguised up a battered old staircase and run by the same family since 1951. They’d been battling to stop it from turning into a ‘luxury’ hotel, I think around 10,000 people signed the petition but it didn’t make a difference.

Best place for a first date?

Trisha’s. If they don’t appreciate it for a first date then there’s a slim chance of a second.

Favourite London shops?

Idea, for arguably the best collection of books ever, but also because its owners, David Owen and Angela Hill, are some of my best London mates, so I go there for the chat and the big pile of Fortnum’s biscuits. I also heavily rely on Tesco, Sainsbury’s or M&S to stock up on crumpets, Earl Grey, mango chutney and whatever else is needed to smuggle back to LA. Oh, and I can’t forget Pret. Why does nowhere in America understand how to make a simple triangle sandwich?

If you could buy any building and live there, which would it be?

F Cooke’s old pie and mash shop on Broadway Market, another little gem. I love that area and particularly that building as it’s where I did my first (and worst) fashion shoot. The flat above had this incredible Sixties, worn, patterned carpet and wallpaper. I just googled it and the first thing that comes up is a Trip Advisor review saying ‘absolutely disgusting’, which makes me want it even more.

What makes someone a Londoner?

A sense of humour and default pessimism. Feeling those both hit me simultaneously is a breath of fresh air when I’m landing at Heathrow from LAX.

The most iconic Londoner in history?

It’s a close tie between Francis Bacon and Pat Butcher.

What’s your London secret?

Oslo Court. It’s a pink table-clothed, blue carpeted time warp of a restaurant underneath a block of flats in St John’s Wood. It’s stubbornly out of date in so many ways including the clientele, which have an average range of about 75. I love it so much.

What do you collect?

A load of old shite that I pay a fortune to store. Name badges, ugly royal memorabilia, a wall of breeze block, a neon motel sign, some old cinema seats, a silicone sculpture of me dressed as ‘Jeff’ (a fictional character from Hello, My Name Is), old cigarette packets, mobile phones, hotel keys, TV guides, religious paraphernalia, fake food, a dry-cleaning unit — the list goes on. This is all with the intention that when I’m dead, someone will stumble upon it and have an exhibition like the one Kubrick had in London; and people will come from far and wide to marvel at my collection of ‘Old Shite’.

Favourite work of art in London?

I’m not sure, but the [New Years 2016] photo that someone took on a Manchester street that looks like a Renaissance painting should be hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

Nadia’s new book, ‘Women: Pirate Edition’ (Idea), launches in Tokyo on 5 April at Dover Street Market. Email enquiries: