My Vintage London - singer Patricia Hammond
Canadian singer Patricia Hammond shares her top tips on vintage shopping and events in the capital and explains why it’s worth wandering amongst remnants from past world-fairs.
The Vintage Guide to London: Who are you, and what do you do?
Patricia Hammond: I’m Patricia Hammond, the Nice Cup of Tea singer! Some people call me an old record without the scratches. A quick plug: four of my songs, including “A Nice Cup of Tea” are available to download and have fun with on the 23 October.
The Vintage Guide to London: Why do you like vintage – what does vintage mean to you?
Patricia Hammond: It’s about fully enjoying life – appreciating many aspects of culture. Nobody looks at art from just the last ten years, so why should it be any different with clothes, decor, food and dancing? And as with music and art, I think that our forebears had some good ideas.
The Vintage Guide to London: What are your favourite London vintage and secondhand shops?
Patricia Hammond: If I see a charity shop and I’ve never heard of the charity before, usually there are treasures inside. I hate the way some charity shops edit the types of books, clothes and dishes etc. that they sell. I want oddities! Also, the further away from the centre you go, the better. I couldn’t recommend any in particular, because they always go in waves: I found some amazing things in the charity shops in St. John ‘s Wood one month, and then another month there was next to nothing. Stoke Newington Church Street has some very good shops, with an eye for interesting things, but not the kind of prices you’d end up paying in zone 1.
The Vintage Guide to London: Is there a big difference between vintage here and in Canada ?
Patricia Hammond: Interestingly, there was a thriving burlesque, tiki and swing-dancing scene in Vancouver in the mid-nineties, a good while before it was big in London! The term “mid-century”, meaning Forties to Sixties, would never be used in a place like London, or Europe . People would need to know which century! Vancouver was a lot of marsh-land in 1850 and so the term is common. In Canada you can find wonderful Cowichan sweaters, Mary Maxim knits and lumberjack plaid, and in London the scene is more about history: austerity and the Blitz. Which I love.
The Vintage Guide to London: Do you go to vintage events? Which do you recommend?
Patricia Hammond: I go to the various fairs, which are fabulous. But there’s more to life than buying stuff, and I’d suggest coming along to the Cakewalk Cafe at Passing Clouds in Dalston, just behind the Haggerston pub. It’s free, and happens every Wednesday from 8pm to 1am. It’s authentic early jazz in a properly quirky setting, and dressing up is encouraged. Also, you can create a vintage event at home every afternoon when you make a pot of tea. Just get out the right china and silver and wear a hat!
The Vintage Guide to London: Do you have any favourite vintage places in London like a building, an area, a street?
Patricia Hammond: I love wandering amongst remnants from past world-fairs. I used to stroll around Wembley before it was, uh, transformed, looking at crumbling concrete deco Lion-heads from the British Empire Exhibition. There were some buildings from the Franco-British exhibition of 1908 still around at Shepherds Bush until the Westfield Mall destroyed them all. Now I have to content myself with dusty bits of Festival of Britain splendour like the gardens at Battersea Park. For some real atmosphere, head down to Poplar on the DLR and see the Chrisp Street Market on the Lansbury Estate, built in 1951, also for the Festival of Britain. Go there before it gets destroyed.
The Vintage Guide to London: What’s the must-do vintage thing one has to do in London ?
Patricia Hammond: Go to Persephone Books on Lambs Conduit Street and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the shop, and the nature of their gorgeous reprinted books which are mostly from the Twenties and Thirties. Each book is an elegant time machine. Then just amble around the nooks and corners of Bloomsbury, ending up at Sir John Soane’s House. It’s good to remind oneself that vintage doesn’t have to be just the last eighty years!