Alan Partridge on London

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'If London was meant to be ruled by bicycles rather than cars, Vauxhall would not be called Vauxhall'. Alan Partridge’s askance glance at the Big Smoke

  • Steve Coogan: interview | Tommy Saxondale's magic musical memories

    The congestion charge

    ‘Happy to pay it, happy to pay it. Look, I can now do Hanger Lane Gyratory to Broadcasting House in 17 minutes. In all seriousness, if you’d have told me that was possible a decade ago, I’d have assumed you were mentally ill.’

    Cars v bikes in the capital

    ‘Look at the place names. If London was meant to be ruled by bicycles rather than cars, Vauxhall would not be called Vauxhall. It would be called Raleigh or BMX. But it’s not, is it? It’s called Vauxhall. Promoting the bicycle is an affront to the likes of Henry Ford, Enzo Ferrari, Mr Subaru. We’re asking people to uninvent the wheel and pretend to be savages all over again. Soon they’ll put a charge on using a blender and my girlfriend will have to mush ingredients up in her mouth when she’s making a stuffing or a scotch egg.’

    The best garage food

    ‘The centres of excellence in UK garage food shift year by year. Right now the guys at Esso are absolutely on top of their game. What I love about the Esso team is their refusal to pander to the current fad for fruit and veg. They quite literally say: "It’s my way or the highway." They don’t have it all their own way, though. I once bought a prawn sandwich from the excellent BP Wild Bean Café on the A3 in Hammersmith. I was heading to Bristol but enjoyed it so much that I turned round at Reading services, went back and bought another four. It was world-class.’

    Routemasters

    ‘They were symbols of London. Like Buckingham Palace, jellied eels, and black-on-black knife crime. Bendy buses, on the other hand, I hate. It’s not the bus bit I have a problem with, it’s the bendy bit. I have a fundamental objection to any vehicle with a central fulcrum. The number of pedestrians bendy buses have knocked over suggests they’re too quiet. I wrote to the former mayor suggesting the middle section play a note whenever it concertinas, just like an accordion. Public transport is not the way forward. If God had wanted us to travel in buses, he would not have invented the Lexus IS Sports Saloon.’

    London style

    ‘I am baffled by people’s reluctance to embrace smart-casual clothing. Get your smart-casual wardrobe right and one outfit can work in any scenario. The same shirt-trouser-and-blazer combination can look appropriate at a job interview, in the pub, or at the funeral of a close relative.’ 'Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful Characters', Hammersmith Apollo, November 10-15. Coogan also stars in ‘Hamlet 2’, due to be released in early 2009.

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Steve Coogan: interview | Tommy Saxondale's magic musical memories

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