Today we have an interview with Ben Pendrey, Spotter for our London Cityblog.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m British, 31 and racing towards 32 (arrrgh!!!) and have lived in the south of England all of my life. From the age of 3 I grew up in a small seaside town called Weymouth in Dorset. A straight three hour train ride from Waterloo station to the end of the line, it has a wide bay of blue sea and a fine, sandy beach, which will also host the sailing for the 2012 Olympic Games. It’s a fantastic place to grow up and grow old in, but I wanted something it didn’t have, so in 2002 moved to London to chase a career in the camera department of the UK film industry.
I managed to get some very good contacts in the industry, and had a few jobs on some well-known productions. The people who work on film and TV crews are amazing, and I do miss the camaraderie. Unfortunately it’s an unforgiving game with no safety net, so reluctantly, I left it behind for a more secure income. Many years of temping in office jobs followed, and this is where you find me now, attempting to sneak my way into a writing career in journalism or in a press office. Now if I could do that in the film industry, life would be almost perfect….
What’s life like being a Spotter?
It is what you make it. You can take a quick picture of the spot and then stop there, or you can phone up or email the manager, meet them on the day and get to know them, and this is what Spotted by Locals is all about, being with people :)
I was really lucky when I dropped into the Kensington Creperie to find the manager, I found that it was a staff birthday, they had all the waiting staff and chefs there, and a cake! It was really lucky that I was able to get a great, natural-looking pic of them all, you can see it on the blog post. They are so much like a family.
Why London? What is a must do when you visiting London? What is not?
It hasn’t got the architecturally-planned beauty of Paris, or the scale of downtown New York, but there’s something about London that seems to be more appealing. I think it must be the mix of nationalities that we have that make it feel that there’s a little piece each country here.
If the weather’s good (yes, I know, but it is sunny sometimes!) make sure youget out of the tube and walk the backstreets, or take a bus. You miss so much when you are underground, and you never get a feel for how one part of the city connects to the other.
Which prejudice about London are true? Which are not?
I guess it can be expensive compared to other cities, but you can find good prices for food and going out. Check our Spots…
Contrary to most news reports, we don’t all carry knives to stab each other on the morning commute to work! London is as safe as any other European or American city, you will generally only find trouble if you go looking for it. Trust your instincts.
What do you know about London what no tourist will know?
If it’s your first time on the the Underground, or Tube as we call it, standing on the right-hand side of the escalators to let people walk past on your left, will win you a lot of friends, especially during rush-hour. It’s best not to travel between the hours of 08:00 to 09:30, or 17:00 to 18:30, especially if you have luggage, the Tube gets very crowded :)
Which time of the year you like most in your city and why?
Hmm, I like crisp clear days during winter when you can take a walk in the parks and then end up in a dark pub with a blazing fire and a pint of Guinness, or a hot summer’s day when you can take a walk anywhere in the city and finish up…who knows where?
Read all of Ben’s articles here.
Check out the other interviews with our Spotters.