This town mouse tends to steer well clear of central London on a Saturday night. Manhattanites rather sniffily refer to the crowds that descend on the city at the weekend as ‘bridge and tunnelers’. For obvious reasons, Londoners can’t employ the same moniker, but the principle remains the same: as outsiders arrive, it’s time for insiders to depart.
Last weekend, however, I was forced to travel through Soho to track down the one and only screening of a French film in the entire capital. With no less than four cinemas (including an art-house one) within walking radius of my flat, both arms had to be twisted before I set out further.
Having survived the swarms moving in all directions along Shaftesbury Avenue, I emerged at the other end into the light-filled squares of Bloomsbury. Just a few years ago, the Lego-shaped staircase of flats in the Brunswick Centre was in a sorry state. Funding dried up even before the centre was completed under Patrick Hodgkinson’s 1970s design, and it became a popular setting for crime dramas.
Today, following a £22 million refurbishment, including painting the cladding cream to respect the nearby Georgian terraces, the Brunswick hums with life, sushi-eaters and Waitrose shoppers a transformation worth the trek.