Our North London Culture Tour in a DriveNow Talking BMW
Written by: Sophie Taylor
(Kindly sponsored by DriveNow)
We begged the beauties of DriveNow to borrow one of their luxury cars again to zip about North London. We needed to get our culture fix and we needed to do it quickly. They said, “you know what? We’ve got just the car for you. His name is KITT and he’s a talking BMW”. I shit you not.
So we changed our names to Michael Knight, threw on a leather jacket and curled our hair into a boosh only David Hasselhoff would fully comprehend. Not got the cultural reference yet? Sucks for you. Now quickly Google Knight Rider, have your life changed for the better and we’ll see you back here in a tick. You’re welcome.
It was time for our shadowy flight into the dangerous world of culture in North London. We were leather clad loners on a crusade to champion the cause of the dramatic, the bookish, the arty and the film buffed.
Stop One: Art
Parasol Unit Contemporary Art Gallery – Islington
We began in Islington, expertly nipping down an alleyway to find the Parasol Unit Gallery, all thanks to our chatty bimmer. Yep, savvy-minded KITT flagged up the congestion zone and showed us a fine-avoiding route straight to the gallery front door. Thanks babe.
Bangladeshi-British artist Rana Begum is currently showing her first solo presentation of past and recent works, titled ‘The Space Between’, until 18th September and we wanted to catch it before it ended. Using influences from constructivist and minimalist art, Begum creates two and three-dimensional works that masterfully fill the rooms like an absolute demon. The exhibition is accompanied by a limited edition of ten sculptural wall pieces.
The standout piece for us was the new large-scale installation No. 670, 2016, a room of industrial steel-mesh fencing arranged into a large maze-like structure that we got lost in for a while before KITT flashed his headlights at us through the window.
What is it mate? He was peering in and wanted to express his delight at the neon light piece that reminded him of his own dashboard.
“I discovered dynamic shifts in its colour and form,” he murmured, “light is a vitally activating element in all of Begum’s works, its shifts and changes producing an experience that is both temporal and sensorial” sounding less William Daniels and more scripted than ever. Yeah, we know you read all that in the exhibition pamphlet KITT, get over yourself.
The Space Between is on at The Parasol Unit until the 18th September, but if you can’t get yourself there in time the gallery run brilliant exhibitions, events, talks, workshops and film screenings throughout the year.
KITT: Right away Michael.
Stop Two: Literature
The Muswell Hill Bookshop – Muswell Hill
We felt like a coffee and a good book after all that sculpture. So we put the pedal to the metal again and headed to Muswell Hill bookshop to see if we could nab some good finds. But not before grabbing a view from the top of Alexandra Palace car park.
“Whew KITT! Look at that. All of this world will be yours one day. The world… of the Knight Rider.”
KITT: “Get a life.”
“I got a life and a body, too, which is more than I can say for you.”
Jeez. Time to leave the little diva in park mode and have an extended browse around Muswell Hill’s finest bookshop.
The Muswell Hill Bookshop is a long established independent bookshop on Fortis Green Road, who sometimes hold readings and signing events by various authors. As an indie set up they are selective and discerning with their stock, which makes for a pretty enticing browse. Thanks be to Hasselhoff above that we have our helpful car waiting outside to carry our stacks of literature. We load K.I.T.T. up with some crime-busting Ruth Rendell’s, Patricia Cornwall’s and a big old pile of Ian Rankin’s, which he was more than happy to cart about for us, like a handy DriveNow car should.
K.I.T.T: “Please do not refer to me as a ‘car’ or a ‘set of wheels’, it’s most demeaning. I’m the Knight Industries Two Thousand.”
Wow. We almost forgot just how much of a complete sass master our BMW is.
On that note, we were ready to sit in silence in the dark and hope our diva hire car had calmed down in the interim. Off to the Park Theatre for a matinee methinks.
Muswell Hill Bookshop, 70 – 72 Fortis Green Road open Monday – Saturday 9.30am-6pm, Sundays 11am-4pm
Stop Three: Theatre
Park Theatre – Finsbury Park
In association with The Other Cheek and Park Theatre, Cahoots Theatre Company present the first major revival of ‘The Roundabout’, a comedy by prolific British playwright J.B. Priestley. Directed by Hugh Ross, the show has been nominated for three Offie Awards and has been receiving some rave reviews.
We meet dysfunctional family The Kettlewell’s over one farcical weekend and gained insight into England in the 1930s, when social standings seemed to be on the cusp of changing. As all the reviews state, Bessie Carter is a real stand out performance and ‘a one to watch’ for sure in this witty yet touching production.
The Roundabout is showing at The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park until 24th September. Tickets available here.
We come out of the theatre giggling and see our BMW patiently waiting for us, chuckling away to himself too.
“Something tickled your gearbox K.I.T.T?”
Turns out he’d spotted another hire car company vehicle and was less than impressed with their performance.
K.I.T.T: “Terrific. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. Hilarious.”
Stop Four: Film
Picturehouse – Crouch End
We were rather excited about our next and final culture stop. Onwards, my good friend, to The Picturehouse cinema in Crouch End! The comfy sofas, buckets of hot popcorn and excellent in-house restaurant are calling to us. Sorry K.I.T.T, as much as we’d love to wheel you through the auditorium, drive-ins are no longer much of a thing. Never really were a thing at all here in the UK, I’m afraid (we blame rain). You’re a lone crusader in a dangerous world. For the next 90 minutes anyway. Keep that parking space secret dude, keep it safe.
Our shiny DriveNow BMW didn’t seem to care, still chuckling away to himself about the state of the other hire car he was now fervently trolling on Twitter.
We were lucky enough to catch the new Nick Cave film ‘One More Time With Feeling’. Showing as a one off one night only screening, this was a rare opportunity to preview the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album before it’s release date the following day. We even had the chance to take in the 3D version. So we swapped our Ray-Bans for plastic specs and sat back, prepared to be blown away.
Well, we’re ready to head home now after that cultural assault on our senses. No fuel costs, no strings with insurance, car tax and parking all included. Not bad for a day out. How was it for you?
K.I.T.T. “You’ve been stubborn, impatient and arrogant, drove like a maniac, were readily distracted by pretty girls and boys, and listened to perhaps the most appalling music to ever shatter my airwaves. I’ve had a blast.”
Thanks mate, it’s been special. Let’s shatter those airwaves some more with one more for the road, eh?
We connect our iPhone to the DriveNow Bluetooth speakers and zoom back home to the dulcet sounds of Hasselhoff circa 2006. Swoon.
Need a car and need it now? Make like Knight Rider and download the DriveNow app quick sharp to find a sassy little BMW or MINI nearby who can take you to the ends of the world and back (or perhaps just to the cinema with your mates…).
While you’re at it, enjoy free registration exclusively for you lucky North Four readers right about now, right about here.
*we cannot guarantee that the car will actually talk. In fact, if it does start talking be afraid, be very afraid.
Photos by Mike Barry
Staying in a hotel one mile from where you actually live feels strange enough, but doing it on your own is even stranger. These photos are a visual record of me wandering the lonely corridors of a new boutique hotel between the hours of 10-12pm. I would describe the decor as handmade but not cheap, minimal but not clinical. It has the feeling that money has been spent on the things that matter.
The rumours are true: a cheese festival exists and it’s coming to North London. This Sunday. Be there or be … cheese-less I suppose. But you’ve gouda get there early: If you’re as keen as brie and one of the first fifty fromage fondlers to show, you’re in the running for a free bottle of Black Cow’s pure milk vodka. Traders will be setting up stalls along Islington’s Chapel Market: from the Raclette Brothers and Mac to the Future to La Fromagerie and The Cheese Truck.
Dream Talk. It’s like Dream Phone, but not at all. Artist Emma Alonze and musician Andy Becker have joined forces to collaborate on a (possibly prophetic) new sound art project. Londoners are invited to take a moment out of their daily commute, routine or journey and immerse themselves in a narrated collection of dreams. Taking three years worth of forty winks, Alonze has gathered and narrated a chosen few to be set to an ambient soundtrack by Becker.
Holy smoke, her nipples are on fire! Somebody pass the woman an extinguisher. Wait, why is she climbing into that giant margarita glass - does she not know it's highly flammable? She's going to need to be doused with a sizable portion of aloe vera gel at this rate, the poor lamb.
If there's anything the new moon today has told us, it's that it's time to be our true selves. That's what my horoscope told me today anyway. But what does that mean exactly? It means that if you want to eat honey loops for lunch, you 100% can. It means if you feel like learning how to make a bouquet instead of working on your tax forms, you 100% can. It also means if you want to learn how the deep throat (singing technique) you don't have to explain yourself. You're keeping it .
Our exclusive meeting with Eroc: the Beyonce of the skateboarding dog world. Eroc the french bulldog is making waves. With fans like Tony Hawk, BBC Radio and over 30k followers on Instagram (and counting), Eroc has also become something of an online sensation. His viral status comes and goes, randomly popping up on online social media channels every now and again to generate hundreds of thousands of views and clicks via the likes of Buzzfeed, Time Out and rogue iPhone filmers.
We all have our own ways of dealing with life when things get shitty. Having a big cry and getting it all out can be incredibly therapeutic, and even more so when we find ourselves repeating the same line over and over through the tears. “He’s a dick!” or “I’m not a bad person!” These little lines of reinforcement help us push through the crappy feeling. Sometimes we might even revert to a hearty little stamp on the floor / kick of some unsuspecting object. It feels surprisingly satisfying when the rage sets in and we feel helpless.
This Friday sees the release of Malian master musicians, Trio Da Kali’s new album Ladilikan. Fusing rich, expressive vocals with traditional instruments like the balafon and bass ngoni, this is a beautiful mix of ancient Mande culture and contemporary Malian sounds. Luckily for us North Londoners, we have the opportunity to see the trio play live in the rather fitting ethereal surrounds of Stoke Newington Church next month.
Walking along Monsell Road in Finsbury Park, we spy the charming exterior of a shop looking like something out of a children’s book circa 1932. Beneath a green and white striped awning, a whimsical new world of mini animals awaits. Once inside we stumble about the store in hushed awe, reaching over a book of minuscule carpet samples/ family of miniature otters to tap a tiny bell.
Whether you’re looking for something to entertain your kids, your friends’ kids or that particularly large man child in your life, you might just have lucked out. Snug are hosting an open air screening of The Incredibles next Saturday evening. There will be tasty sourdough pizzas from Sodo Pizza (Upper Clapton) and ultimate authentic curries from Rice n Spice, Northwold Road.
Coming soon to a Tufnell Park near you is a whole new vegetable patch of delights / wheat field to run vicariously through. It’s time to get excited for Ceremony: a brand new bar/restaurant serving modern British veggie cuisine. Although the website remains tantalisingly mysterious, you can glean more info from their well stocked insta.
Sound baths, pit parties, fake cheese and nipples, these are a few of our favourite things, said no one ever. Bored of drinking down the pub every evening? Unlikely, but bare with me. Sometimes you just want to let down your hair, shake it off and do something down right odd of an evening... followed by a pint at the pub.
It’s been a few months since the last instalment of Online vs Offline. I deleted Bumble, Happn and Tinder, flirted with the idea of match.com, went to a friend’s wedding, heard the vicar call my name instead of the Bride’s and reflected briefly on the crushing inevitability of my own spinsterhood before realising everyone was laughing in the pews and I should probably join them.
Gluten-free cake consumers, vegan cheese enthusiasts, craft beer connoisseurs, lovers of pies and drinkers of tea; your time is now. Buy food of a quality & variety you can’t easily find in the shops, from organic meat to vegan cheese, fish caught that morning to pickles which have been fermenting for months, at Stroud Green market.
Who’s up for free entry, free cake and free folk (except for a jaunty little hat that is passed around for donations)? Get down to The Finsbury this Wednesday eve for a little mid week hootenanny and celebrate some of the best in new live music from the ‘acoustic, singer-songwriter & indie-folk scene’. Host with the most, Zoe Konez (“Ridiculously talented, Konez handles her guitar like she was born with it” - For Folk's Sake) will be deftly introducing each act from gin soaked folk popster herself, Penniless Cove to German indie band, Kalon.
What if you could mix the joys of your local Sunday car boot and all it’s dog perving potential with your favourite vintage clothes shops and high end antique markets? Within the sparkling depths of Dalson’s former ABC cinema, you’ll find The Big London Flea: London’s largest indoor vintage market.