My London: Gaz Mayall

·3-min read
Gaz Mayall/ Illustration: Lee Martin for ES Magazine (Gaz Mayall/ Illustration: Lee Martin for ES Magazine)
Gaz Mayall/ Illustration: Lee Martin for ES Magazine (Gaz Mayall/ Illustration: Lee Martin for ES Magazine)

Home is…

North Kensington. It’s the last slum in Notting Hill.

Where was your first flat and what was it like?

The first flat is where I still am now, in Kensal Green. I’ve never got around to leaving because I’ve got such a big record collection that the thought of moving is quite daunting. It’s a lovely little flat; I’ve been there for more than 30 years now. It’s full of records and paraphernalia.

Which shops do you rely on?

I’m more of a stall man, I like the stalls in Portobello Market and Golborne Road more than shops. It’s my village so I tend to shop local.

Best meal you’ve had?

I love Rules in Covent Garden. I love all the pomp and the fact that it’s the oldest restaurant in London, founded around the time of the French Revolution and still on the same spot. That’s a lovely establishment but you can rarely get a table there. If you call in to book it’s pretty difficult but sometimes you can get a table just by having a cocktail upstairs, right where Charles Dickens used to sit and stare out the window when he made his first few quid.

What’s your favourite club?

Clearly, it’s my own one, Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues, the longest standing one-nighter in town, possibly the world. I’ve been doing it every Thursday for 42 years. The secret of its longevity? Great music and if something’s not broken, don’t try and fix it. Originally it was at a place that no longer exists at 69 Dean Street. I moved after 14 years to the St Moritz where I’ve been ever since Thanksgiving 1994. St Moritz has been there since 1960. The Kinks started their career there, as did Joe Strummer.

Who do you call if you want to have fun?

John The Fridge, because he’s a good drinking partner and one of the funniest people I know. He’s nicknamed John The Fridge because he’s a refrigerator mechanic but he does look like a fridge. You know when people get dogs that kind of look like them? Sometimes people start to look like their job title.

Where do you go to let your hair down?

I do the Notting Hill Carnival every year — I’ve only missed one since 1976. I absolutely live for it. It’s the local gymkhana, a party in the streets and it’s become my civic duty to maintain a spot there where everybody can come and dance the bank holiday weekend through. We put on live music and our DJs are down there. We dress the place up, usually with a fancy-dress theme; this year’s theme is gonna be Atlantis, focusing on lost civilisations due to climate change and rising sea levels, so we’re having a bit of an underwater theme. Bring your flippers and snorkel.

What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?

I’d make public transport about one-fifth the price so that everyone had some sort of Oyster card that was free outside of rush hour times. I’d make London transport cheap and easy for all.

What’s your London secret?

Chelsea Physic Garden. It’s the oldest pharmaceutical gardens in the UK, founded in 1673. You can become a member and they’ve got 5,000 different plants there. It’s like the Noah’s Ark of medicinal plants. It’s a tucked away little secret, just a doorway, and they’ve got a lovely restaurant in there, beautiful gardens (it’s not very big), a great place to go for lunch.

Best thing a cabbie has ever said to you?

This was very recently — he said, ‘Oh Gaz, great to see you, I’ve been coming down your club for years, this ride’s on me.’

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