As we constantly fret about air pollution, road safety and stifling property prices, it’s easy to forget that London has survived far scarier times.
A year into the Second World War, the German Luftwaffe launched an unprecedented aerial assault on the UK’s major cities, dropping more than 100 tons of explosives on the country over the course of 37 weeks. London was attacked 71 times, damaging more than a million homes and killing around 20,000 Londoners.
The photos that have survived the three quarters of a century since are at once upsetting and uplifting. Though they show familiar places reduced to dusty tatters, the stiff, unemotional reactions of the Londoners they depict say a lot about our character. If we can deal with this, we can deal with anything.
Holborn, October 25 1940
Brixton, September 7 1940
Burlington Arcade, September 17 1940
Kingsway, September 11 1940
London Zoo, November 24 1940
Ludgate Hill, date unknown
St Paul's Cathedral, March 7 1941
Tate Gallery, October 8 1940
Tottenham Court Road, November 15 1940
‘If you’re not drinking,’ cried our compère, a boisterous lady in a slinky ballgown, ‘you can fuck off!’ It was a subtle intro to the world of Bunga Bunga, an immersive Italian bar-restaurant that began life in Battersea and has spawned a wayward child in central London. Luckily, there’s more to it than this go-hard-or-go-home attitude. For starters, there are marble interiors as gaudy as the Trevi Fountain, rippling torsos jutting from the walls and a speedboat fashioned into a table. Then there’s the entertainment, with mafiosi (played by actors) interrupting your conversation and a house band playing Rat Pack tunes. No interlude is left unfilled. It’s madder than Mario Balotelli. Incidentally, there’s a cocktail named after him, served in a cup the shape of his head. Italian liqueurs and spirits abound on the vast menu, although prosecco seems to flow most liberally round the room. For £28 per person you can chow down on a sharing menu of Italian staples, including a decent spread of antipasti, and a tipsy tiramisu. And of course there’s pizza, served by the metre, for soaking up all that booze. If Bunga Bunga could stop forcing the fun down people’s throats, it could be a bigger bash than Berlusconi ever had. Don’t come here for a quiet catch-up or, worse still, a first date. Do come for a hen do or if you like to party with more than a dash of pomp, eh?
Venue says: “Join us Thursdays for Bunga Broadway! An immersive, Italian dining experience with a theatrical twist as West End stars perform around you!”