41-year-old healer Sammi Jane Branson-Pay is a former professional ‘60s Twiggy lookalike who’s escaped the big smoke for the Surrey countryside. Here she reminisces about living in EC1 and rolling around in the back of a black cab with Liam Gallagher…
‘I went to East London Uni back in 1990. It was a ghost town then; very different to how it is now, and quite a dark time. It wouldn’t be the most enjoyable experience revisiting it.
I lived in EC1 for 15 years and loved the diversity, the art and the endless possibilities for reinvention. Spitalfields back then was a wonderful place; edgy and healthy, which is an unusual mix, but very much appealed to my sensibilities. You can go off the edge if you want to but come back undamaged. It’s a place where people can believe in themselves.
Rolling around in the back of a black cab on Oxford Street with Liam Gallagher circa 1994 is my most vivid London memory. Oasis had just filmed Cigarettes and Alcohol at The Borderline club. It was a secret gig just before they hit the big time, and they performed their socks off. I had a blast.
London’s a stressful place; noise, people and attitude everywhere.
For me London doesn’t present perfect days out. Shit just happens and then you have to spend some time reflecting on whether it was good or not. The best experiences in London always come at a price but it’s those experiences you’re there for. You can clean up afterwards.
The best of London is only attained through serious dedication to the cause.
My perfect London night out would involve discovering incredible people and conversations that make you feel seriously alive. You couldn’t go to sleep if you tried. London has a lot of those opportunities if you make the decision to not hold back.
London has a lack of homogeneity that makes it unique. It provides endless possibilities and hope.
Helena Bonham Carter is quintessentially Hampstead and absolutely her own woman.
Quadrophenia sums London up quite well, I think. Young, cool, gritty, posing through your tribal allegiance, and a few decent squabbles.
I’ve worked in the healing and therapy industry for many years now so I’ve heard quite a lot of good advice over the years. Just trust there’s always more to come has been a good one for me.
Tanya Streeter is a world record free-diver and inspiration. Utterly beautiful but she remains committed to her sport, personal development and the conservation and respect of marine life. Her talent and work ethic are very inspiring to me.
It sounds shallow but get yourself down to one of London’s film studios and drink in some of the big time. It doesn’t matter if you’re just the runner, an extra or one of the big shots, just to be there and have done it. You’ll never be the same again.
I’m a terrible task mistress so I have quite a few on the go at all times. This season I will be mostly writing and setting up my metalwork studio.
Happiness is… being part of a community where the values are a good fit for you.’