Cultural, Moi? - Things Salon People Do In London

Cultural, Moi? is a bi-weekly column that asks Salon-ners to list what has recently piqued their cultural curiosity across the many exhibitions, events, cultural nights, websites, blogs and live entertainment in London and across the country.

  • Lloyd Bradley

    31st October

    Lloyd Bradley

    Author, 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital

    Which record would you love to have made?

    P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) – Parliament

    Your musical  unsung  hero or heroine?

    If I can say a group then Cymande or if not Digital Underground’s Humpty Hump

    Which song is guaranteed to make you dance?

    I Love Music – the O’Jays

    Has a DJ ever saved your life?

    I don’t think so, but deejaying has on a couple of occasions 

    What was the last song you listened to?

    Pass Out – Tinie Tempah

  • Top Notch Hot Chocolate

    18th November

    Top Notch Hot Chocolate


    London has a history of excellent hot chocolate, it was a delicacy sipped from tiny porcelain cups in the coffee houses of Victorian London, which is great for the Victorians, but what about us, where we should we go now?  As winter descends we turned to Salon favourite Sara Jayne Stanes OBE for answers, she who fetishised chocolate to the nth degree when she introduced Amedei’s porcelana, to our Salon crowd last year.  She is also the author of Chocolate, the Definitive Guide, and Chairwoman of the Academy of Chocolate so is the perfect person to ask.  This is what she said:

    William Curley’s eponymous shop in Belgravia, not only beloved of the ‘Made in Chelsea’ cast, but you can also take home some of William’s nostalgia range which includes his take on a certain orange biscuit/cake, that coconut bar and umm…wagon wheels.

    Roast and Conch (part of Hotel Chocolat) at Borough Market and also at Seven Dials.  Hotel Chocolat who seem to have a chocolate solution for all of life’s challenges, also have a shop at Borough dedicated to the world of cacao, and a basement bar coffee shop in Covent Garden.

    Rococo’s flagship store in Motcomb St (again in posho Belgravia) offers a peaceful Moroccan style interior to sit and contemplate their blue and white boxes whilst sipping high cocoa content hot chocolate.

    Paul A Young offer the best have-that-to-go hot chocolate to take with you on your travels round Islington, and you can feel smug carrying your cup safe in the knowledge that Paul probably pays his taxes as well as makes the best to-go chocolate in the city. 

  • Adam Roberts

    10th October

    Adam Roberts

    A Nos Amours



    Salon-London – Cultural Moi?

    10th October – Adam Roberts of A Nos Amours

    Joanna Hogg and I agree about everything. So for us to pick out films to show comes very easily. Joanna is shooting her new film at the moment, so it falls to me to reveal what films and cultural diversions I’m interested in – which will naturally be her picks too.

    Our next film – as a visit to our web site will soon reveal – is Herk Harvey’s lovely, moody, delirious very low budget Carnival of Souls from 1962. The organ score by Gene Moore and the monochrome cinematography of Maurice Prather are unforgettable. Roger Clarke will be there to introduce the film for us, and will read from his soon to be published A Natural History of Ghosts. This book I predict will be a best seller – and should be on everyone’s reading list. If you Tweet, we send out updates from @a_nos_amours, and if you do Facebook, we have a page too:

    The London Film Festival is just about to start. I’ve booked to see Winter Nomads (Hiver Nomade) at the ICA on Thursday 11th. This film by Manuel von Stürler follows two Swiss shepherds and their flock of 800 sheep as they make their annual journey - transhumance – from summer to winter pastures. The reviews have been tantalising – I have loved Raymond Depardon’s films about rural life, and I’m hoping for something quite as good. There are still tickets available at Cine Lumiere (

    Also in the LFF I’m booked to see Hong Sang-soo’s film In Another County (

    Dance Umbrella meanwhile is offering a site specific piece until Saturday – ‘Time Has Fallen Asleep’ by the Norwegian choreographer Mette Edvardsen. It’s in Islington Central Library. Book a short slot and an artist will recite you a story, one to one. I’m going to hear Bartelby, the wonderful short story by Hermann Melville. Here’s the link:

    My friend Jonathan Burrows, who is co-curating dance Umbrella described it to me: book a meeting with a performer who performs just for you, lasting something like half an hour as you stroll gently through the books. Don't worry, it’s not at all intimidating. It’s as though your companion disappears and the book they are telling you begins to speak - and then all the books surrounding you seem to become alive. It's a lovely choreography of the memories, ideas and images. And don't worry which book you choose, it's the person speaking who is important.

    Another minimalist treat I’m looking forward to is So Below, devised and performed by Gerard Bell and Karen Christopher at the Chelsea Theatre ( Gerard and Karen have this to say: ‘We walk on the wrong side, we fail to progress, we run from the dance, we light the match, we define happiness, we have a cup of tea, we stumble over the distinction between pain and itch. We can’t find the horizon. We tremble in the face of death. We tend the garden. We attempt to present our findings on the quality of distance’. Who can resist! I’ll be there.

    I could mention, if I wanted to give a complete picture of my cultural life at the moment, that I’m reading Adorno’s Minima Moralia – but that would sound pretentious. Adorno himself is scathing about people like me who like to make public mention such cultural touchstones. So I won’t!




  • Charlotte Fairbairn

    27th September

    Charlotte Fairbairn

    La Directress of the Soho Literary Festival

    I’ve just moved from one set of digs in Pimlico to another in Waterloo and my son is about to go to university in Leeds. I’ve got a building project going on at my permanent home in Cumbria which is about to come to a head and a Literary Festival on the cusp of breaking out in Soho. (27-30th September, 2012, Soho Theatre 


    So my nights at the moment are, shall we say, broken. Men with bags of cement brandishing bills to make your eyes water dance in and out of my sleep while I wonder about student loans and what on earth is that banging sound, there weren’t banging sounds in Pimlico? And then when I think calm is about to return, a wave of festival minutiae sweeps in – will Michael Palin need a lapel-mike and what if Jeremy Vine ends up talking to an audience of ten and have I ordered a taxi for Ruth Rendell and will Hugh Cavendish be well enough to talk about his book A Time to Plant?  John Bird is talking to Ferdinand Mount about his latest oeuvre The New Few and Roy Hudd is going to interview John Major – and while everyone seems to think these are excellent pairings, have I briefed all parties clearly enough? 


    We began planning the 2012 Soho Literary Festival in March. At the time, I was fairly new to the Oldie magazine, whose project it is, but came armed with strong views about what festivals should do. I stuck my neck out for a debate or two – the Euroland debate, the Press & Politics debate – because I think audiences may be delighted to hear people promote their books but they also want to be engaged and stimulated and challenged by thinkers. I used a combination of ignorance and blind optimism to spur me on when ringing some of the ‘artistes’ with the result that we managed to pin down far more Mary Beards and Fay Weldons and Colin Thubrons than I could possibly have hoped for. I also brought a little bit of gossip to mind – my friend Charlie for example told me that Clive Stafford Smith is a fascinating man and a brilliant speaker and that his tales of injustices from Death Row are compelling, if grim.


    Last week, we paid $10 for a countdown clock to be pinned to the front of our website ( As I write, it says 14 days, 9 hours, 43 minutes and 24 seconds until the festival opens (Michael Frayn being interviewed by Valerie Grove). I hope within that time to have sorted out the technical data, drawn up the taxi schedule, spoken to all the guests, dotted all the ‘i’s and ‘t’s (er?). Whether I manage or not, the most exciting four-day literary extravaganza known to man is going to unfurl. I may not be reaching for the panic klaxon but I will be the one in the eye-pads.  


  • Juliet Hodgkins

    29th July

    Juliet Hodgkins

    Saloner since 2012

    The Standon Calling Festival is the first highlight of my summer calender .  I say it's the first as often things are too busy in the run up for much spare time.  But it's all worth it and this year is shaping up to be a real beauty.  Of course, we're all looking forward to seeing Salon at Standon Calling.  In fact our Marketing Manager was so impressed by the Salon line up that he offered to give them more web column inches (& he's not an easy guy to please!).   But there's a lot more on site that i'm looking forward to;  the swimming pool in the sunshine, Maurice's reggae nursery rhymes in the kids area (quick - find me a child so I can go & join in),  the supremely chilled out Autumn Shift tent  and developing my own portrait in the 'Ultra Large Format' mobile darkroom (brought to you by Clapton's own Double Negative Darkroom )   As I book the arts & theatre acts, I have to confess that i'm clueless to many amongst the long list of bands and DJ's that will be performing at the festival, but that's the beauty of it, along with the stonking headliners, I know I'll go home with many new favourites to musically get me through till next year On Fri night I experienced a psychological & emotional shift - I didn't really now what was happening or why I was feeling the way I was, but I started to cry at the bit of the Olympic ceremony where all the Mary Poppins' fought off those evil monster things.  So having spent the last few months in various levels of moral outrage over the games  (the money spent, the massive Mcdonalds on the Olympic site, the way it will screw with London transport), in the space of a few hours I started feeling a very unknown sense of joy in the global one-ness of it all & when someone very kindly offered me a free ticket to see the beach volley ball later in August, I jumped at the chance & ran home to gloat to my husband.  I blame Danny Boyle.  
    Myself and a friend have been toying with the idea of a new business venture for a while, so on the 8th of August we're off to a workshop on 'How to navigate the London Start Up scene' by London & New York based organisation Escape the City  They are a fantastic resource for networking / opportunities / jobs / learning & really inspire ones inner entrepreneur & day dreamer. 
    The rest of the summer will be a time to catch up on some culture.  Firstly, we'll be heading to the Isle of Dogs to see a play written by Ezra Elia & directed by Ray Malone 'Heads, Bodies Legs which promises to be 'an experiment in existential slapstick'.   Then, having really enjoyed the recent BBC adaptations of Shakespeare's History plays, we'll be cashing in some old theatre vouchers to see Richard III at the Globe  And lastly, i'll be heading to the Victoria Miro Gallery to catch the exhibition of Grayson Perry's tapestry's in it's final days  Earlier in the year I went to the last day of his exhibition at the British Museum to find Grayson there, walking around clutching his iconic teddy, Alan Measles & introducing Alan to people as 'the important one'.   It was one of those experiences that left me feeling pretty damn lucky to be a Londoner.  

  • Katherine Leedale

    28th June

    Katherine Leedale


    I’ve got lots of different ‘work heads’ on at the moment – I’m a photographer and have been enjoying working at the London Festival of Photography which is entering its last few days. Spending that much time in a room with photographs allows you to get to know them intimately. Check the website for events running over the weekend and into July: (most exhibitions are free). I’ll also be making a pilgrimage to the newly reopened Photographer’s Gallery to catch their Burtynsky exhibition before it closes on Sunday ( - technically jaw-dropping large scale images which really strike home the environmental effects of our greed for oil. On Saturday I’ll be busy documenting the opening of the permanent version of the wonderful Peckham Peace Wall project, instigated by brilliant inclusive theatre company Peckham Shed ( 

    When I don’t have my photographer’s work head on I am an arts marketer and I’m currently working on the Wide Open School programme at Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery ( where I’m dead excited about seeing Japanese chef Daisuke Hayashi and artist Shimabuku talking about how ‘Art and Cooking are Similar’ on Sunday – I’m a sushi-phobe (the rice bothers me) but am fascinated by Japanese aesthetics. (Maybe heightened because I’m reading Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle?) Details of the class here: I also have a wish-list of classes I’d love to get to. I want to consider the possibility of formlessness as a type of edge with Darius Miskys (who established the first Lithuanian Cricket team) on the 29th June ( as long as it doesn’t clash with Jochen Dehn and Francesco Pedraglio’s exploration of the appearance and disappearance of objects, also on the 29th ( objects and the ship of Theseus). Looking towards next week I’ll be trying to inveigle my way into photography legend Wolfgang Tillmans’ talk on the science behind his art ( Scientific Fundamentals of Photography) and considering what the life-cycle of an artwork is with Pascale Tayou ( inception to death: the nature and life cycle of artworks). That’s not even 1/10th of the classes that are going on so check the website for all details.

    I’d also like to slide in a recommendation for new theatre company 11:18’s Mean Between Times (, part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival – an audio and visual theatrical experience that takes place on a real train journey. My voice appeared in the first incarnation of this wonderful piece but sadly I didn’t make the cut this time – my perception of the city changed drastically as a result of their audio interventions.

  • Sara Elizabeth Williams

    13th June

    Sara Elizabeth Williams

    Writer, co-curator of SCAMP2012 and Saloner since 2011

    About 18 months ago I started putting on events around the things that interested me -- speakers I wanted to hear from, panels I had dreamed up that no one else seemed to be doing yet. SCAMP2012 ( is one of those events, and it's the biggest and most interesting yet.
    Thursday 14 June – tomorrow! – will see Google Campus Shoreditch transformed into an inspiration hothouse for SCAMP2012, a playful, educational day filled with talks, experiments, interactive activities and collaborative formats from some seriously impressive people. Changemakers like Nicole Yershon (!/nicoleyershon) and Dave Birss (!/davebirss). Starter-uppers like Adil Abrar (!/adilabrar). Leaders like Mel Exon (!/melex). Storytellers like Pat Cadigan (!/cadigan) and Salena Godden (!/salenagodden). It's a full day's worth of ideas and arguments from people who've turned their own inspiration into action, and reaped the rewards.
    SCAMP2012 isn't your typical creative industry conference. It's a space where inspiration and action collide. We want the people who take part to leave feeling inspired to make changes when they get back to work – and to actually be able to action those changes. If-only inspiration is common as mud. We want our conference to inspire real, meaningful action.
    One of the things I'm proudest of is that SCAMP2012 features a diverse group of women and men. You know, in the same way the creative industry includes women and men from different backgrounds, and in the same way most consumer groups include all kinds of women and men. Too many conferences insist on implicitly and explicitly telling me that the only people who can succeed in the creative industry are middle class white men between about 28 and 45. This is patently untrue, and SCAMP2012 drives that home with a list of speakers selected for their diverse achievements and equally diverse brands of awesomeness. 
    So tomorrow is the day, and at last check we had a couple of tickets left ( If you work or play in the creative industry, start-ups or media, you've got a lot to gain by taking part. So come join us. There's even a rooftop BBQ afterwards – like I said, this is *not* the usual custard-cream-and-name-tags conference.
    SCAMP2012 is a SheSays ( production. All event details are on our Pinterest page:

  • Hatti Whitman

    7th June

    Hatti Whitman

    Don't Panic

    I loved Grayson Perry’s ‘Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’ at the British Museum so I’m really excited about the exhibition of six new tapestries by him at Victoria Miro gallery, called The Vanity of Small Differences. Perry has also made a tie-in series for Channel 4 called In the Best Possible Taste, the first episode of which is up on 4OD now and well worth a look if you get the chance.


    I caught Perfume Genius when he played at St Pancras Old Church in May and his performance was genuinely spine-tingling. I had a very public emotional meltdown on Twitter as a result. Luckily for you, if you’re the type who enjoys spinetingles, he’s playing at Latitude on July 15th, among a host of similarly individual talent.


    Things to do:

    I was one of those kids who wasn’t allowed to do ‘practicals’ in my science lessons because there was a genuine risk that I would set fire to something. Usually my own hair. So the fact that even I come away from the public lectures at The Royal Society feeling knowledgeable is a testament to their brilliance. The June 19th talk by Professor Frances Ashcroft  entitled The Spark of Life sounds amazing, and I will definitely be going along. Arrive early though, as there’s usually a pretty hefty queue!


    My transportation of choice is a blue upright bicycle affectionately known as Penny, and now that we might actually be having some semblance of a summer there really is nothing like cycling around London (even if it can be a little hair-raising at times). Grab a Boris Bike in your lunchbreak, feel the wind in your hair, and see the city from a whole new perspective. It’s also a great way to discover new stuff, as unlike a bus it’s very easy to hop off a bike if you see something interesting!


    Things to read:

    For all those of you who, like me, lose countless hours blog-hopping online, may I recommend Brainpickings for its brilliantly edited selection of interesting articles and extracts. Recent favourites include an animation of how the universe is measured, Rainer Maria Rilke’s tips on embracing uncertainty, and Thomas Edison’s to-do list.


    I’m currently halfway through Robert Macfarlane’s new book The Old Ways, in which he explores not only the physical reality of paths but also their psychic significance. Rob’s writing style is hypnotically beautiful and in this, his third book, he’s really hitting his stride. Grab a copy and get inspired.


    Things to listen to:

    The combination of wistfulness and gangsta attitude on Hoodie Allen’s No Faith in Brooklyn, which features Jhameel, makes it an excellent listen for sunny days. I interviewed Jhameel a while ago for Don’t Panic Online, and can attest that he is a Thoroughly Nice (and exceptionally talented) Guy, and deserves to be absolutely massive.


    If you fancy knowing any more about what’s making me think, laugh, cry, or dance, I’ll be getting all twittery @HattiW


  • Ellie Craven

    Ellie Craven

    @literarydinners worker bee.


    Arts: I’m looking forward to an outing to the Fiction Uncovered 2012 selection on 23rd May [] – a great excuse to gen up on some new writers and have a sneaky cocktail (or three) in some positively dazzling company. 

    Tickets are finally on sale for our Craig Taylor Literary Dinner at Islington Metalworks on 15th July [] and I’m super excited – an awful lot of preparation has gone into this event and I can’t wait to see it all realised. I’m already scouting venues for our next events, and I’m thrilled to be discovering lots of London gems along the way – my ‘must visit’ list now includes Lassco’s Brunswick House and Dennis Severs’ House, to name just a couple from an ever-growing list!

    I would imagine my bank manager despairs at the amount I spend on gig tickets, but I’m psyched for a good old-fashioned all night dance at John Talabot [], and hoping someone will lend me a Time Turner sometime soon so I can also manage to see the ever-wonderful Jonquil at Cargo [] on 23rd May. 

    I was devastated to miss tickets to the American Graffiti Midsummer Night’s Cinema so I’ll be eagerly awaiting news of the next one with my finger poised to buy! []

    Science: There are some really fabulous exhibitions taking my fancy in London at the moment. My inner childhood science nerd self (and gore-lover) is desperate to see the Gunther von Hagens Animal Inside Out [] exhibition at the Natural History Museum, and I’m also trying to persuade all the gore-phobes in my social circle to come and ogle famous brains with me at the Wellcome Collection before the Brains: The Mind as Matter [] exhibition closes on 17th June. I’m hoping the recent piece on Phineas Gage in the Guardian that ticked all my science/data-is-cool boxes will help me out with that particularly hard sell!]

    Psychology: Perhaps a controversial entry under ‘Psychology’, but I’m fascinated by letter-writing and list writing (I blame the wonderful Letters of Note, my favourite tweeter ever ), so I’ll be heading over to the British Library’s Writing Britain exhibition to slake my epistolary thirst. 

    Since moving to London I’ve been plagued by that nagging feeling that I’m missing a whole raft of secret good stuff, but I’ve discovered a couple of blogs to help me chase the nag away – my current favourites are Derelict London [] and I Know This Great Little Place in London

     If you want to read mildly deranged posts about TV and food (and occasional cultural things), I'll be @Ellayanor 




  • Adam Nelson

    Adam Nelson


    The last few weeks I have been trying to take a more a multi-browed approach to culture (cultcha, innit?). So along with the FA cup final and Avengers Arise, last weekend, spurred on by an out of date copy of Time Out in the doctor’s surgery I went and visited the Zabludowicz Collection in Chalk Farm to see their current exhibition, Weighted Words. It looks at the power of language and words in contemporary art; as a performative tool, as a provocateur, eliciting emotion, reaction and how language communicates more than mere information. The exhibition brings together a diverse body of work from contemporary artists from Albania to LA that all seek to explore how to ‘paint’ with words, using phrases and fragments to build up an impasto of meaning. Some works do not resonate quite as strongly as others, but it is worth the trip, even for an avowed South Londoner myself. Ruth Ewan’s ‘ A jukebox of people trying to change the world’ is a particular highlight.

    At the same end of the cultural spectrum, if at least at the other end of the Northern Line, Mike Ballard’s I.D.S.T. opens at Block 336. I admit I know little about this particular Ballard, but I went to the private view of Block 366’s first show, an underwhelming group effort that may have been better than I give it credit for, but was frankly overshadowed by a fantastic bunker-like concrete gallery space better suited to a rave. With the sound system blaring that night and Ketel One providing the cocktails, it’s certainly what it felt like. Hopefully Ballard’s ‘immersive installation of film photography and lightboxes’ should fare better than the odd assortment of painting and sculpture that I saw there.


    But do go along, if nothing else to check out a great new arts space in a surprising location.

    Flamingo International, the Global insight and brand consultancy that I work for, held a brilliant (even if I do say so myself) event last week called ‘an addiction to prediction’ all about our obsession with crystal ball gazing. Daniel Franklin of the Economist was one of the keynote speakers and highlights are here. It’s thought provoking stuff, and for those who really want to feed their addiction to prediction, I would recommend Jacques Attali’s Brief History of the Future. Politician, Economist and first president for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, he makes a reasoned case for some pretty wild claims about the future map of our planets geo-political landscape, moving through a world of ‘hyperempire’ pirates, corsairs and virtual nomads to one of ‘international hyperdemocracy’ and collective intelligence. It needs to be read to be believed.

    Last week I also managed to get myself on the guestlist for the Alabama Shakes gig at Brixton Electric (huge thanks goes to the management of the venue for that one!). Not one to believe the Guardian Guide hype, I was sceptical, but blown away by a band that has more visceral energy when live than their album would have you believe. Go see them this summer if you can get a ticket.

    Talking of the Guardian, along with the occasional drunk rollie, I have given up the Graun as I have decided it’s bad for my health. There is little point reading something I agree with every day. I am currently mixing it up with the FT and The Sun, but have decided its time to broaden my media horizons and plan on continuing to mix it up- all part of a multi-brow approach...

    Feel free to berate me for my opinions @alouneou or