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Metropolitans: Steven Layton, Graphic Designer


I am…a graphic designer currently working for a small agency  based in the heart of Soho. I graduated five years ago and avoided real work for a few years by running a hip hop/turntablism night with a few friends at The Social, also in Soho, as well as DJing in a few bars and clubs. These days I occasionally DJ but I’ve found people don’t appreciate 90’s hip hop, funk and soul half as much as they should.

The area in London I call home is… E4 bang bang, aka Chingford. I’ve lived here all of my life apart for three years at university.  I wouldn’t class it as “proper” London as it’s on the borders of the capital and Essex so it’s a bit of an odd suburb.

I’ve got to have a meal at… The Table Café, 83 Southwark Street, SE1 0HX. Table effortlessly pull off the relaxed café come restaurant look and vibe. The food is always great whether it be breakfast, brunch. lunch or dinner! The staff are friendly, the price is reasonable and the background music is always great – they were playing GangStarr, Nina Simone and Sly & the Family Stone last time I ate dinner there!

I tend to get my threads from… Most recently I picked up a few items from Albam. They’ve got a few stores around town. They have a good variety of clothes that can be worn as either smart or casual which is always useful. Tapered chinos and stuff like that I guess…

To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… I prefer bars over clubs and where ever I go I always seem to end up at Dragon Bar on Shoreditch High Street. I think this is because when it was near Old Street roundabout, it was a bit like Cheers in there.  I recently went to Nightjar on City Road and I highly recommend anybody who likes cocktails, jazz or both. I can’t remember the name of it but they have a cocktail that combines red wine and dark chocolate. It goes down a treat with some live music. Just make sure you book in advance.

If I was mayor, I would… Fast track the proposal to put in a shopping lane and a walking lane for pedestrians on Oxford Street. I work near by and won’t feel guilty bashing tourists out of the way if they’re stood in the walking lane.

My favourite spot to check out art is… The Design Museum. I am more into design than art so it’s much more likely I would be paying a visit to their exhibitions that any of the other galleries. Plus, the last time I went I got to oggle at Joe Lewis’s 220ft yacht that was docked right outside on the Thames.

I’d kindly tell a tourist to… either eat at Table after traipsing round the Tate or visit Lounge Bohemia on Great Eastern Street for a quirky bar with good cocktails and free hit or miss canapés. Make sure you book in advance though as they have been known to turn people away even if they’re nearly empty?!

The things I miss when I leave London are… The hustle. I strangely enjoy being in the city and fending for space. I like to rush around, skipping past dawdling tourists and generally getting to where I need to be without any hassle. I don’t have much patience for slow people on pavements. I also massively miss the Monmouth Coffee shop when I’m out of town. They have two shops and a roasters. I love filter coffees (bit of a coffee geek) and Monmouth are by far the best in my opinion.

My soundtrack to London would be…

Nightmares on Wax ft. LSK, Rodney P & Roots Manuva: 70’s 80’s Child (Upbringing Mix) – I’m a 80’s 90’s child but a lot of the lyrics in this song remind me of my childhood growing up in London. There’s a good few mentions of the recession too – funny how history repeats itself.

London Possé: How’s Life in London – Early Rodney P…need I say more? This came out a little after rappers in London realised they didn’t have to put on American accents to make a good hip-hop track. The line “A yank said I sound Australian” always cracks me up because that happened to me once. After just listening to this I wonder if people from outside the UK can even decipher half the stuff they’re rapping about.

Lovin’ Spoonful:  Summer in the City – When I’m riding in a sweaty, packed tube carriage and this starts playing on my iPod it always brings a smile to my face. However hot and stuffy London gets with its lack of air con anywhere the evenings are always great in the summer.

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