LOUISA HITCHEN is the Original Pearly Princess of Westminster. The Hitchens are one of the two great Pearly families, dating back to George Hitchen (b1884). Much of their time now is devoted to raising money for charity.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Pearly Princess

What is the best thing about London?
I have to say the people. It’s so multi-cultured, there’s people from all over, all different walks of life, all different cultures. I can spend the day in Camden, in a cafe, just people watching. It’s really colourful. London isn’t like anywhere else – it’s very friendly.

Could you imagine living anywhere else?
Not really. I spent some time in Australia and the weather’s better – it’s warmer – but it’s just not London. It’s so different from anywhere else, people accept you for what you are.

Where’s your secret corner of London?
I spent a lot of time with my Nan in Newington Green. When we was kids, Nan used to send me around to get a half-ounce of baccy and some roll-ups, and we’d look in on Rennies’ antique shop. I just like to walk around there and remember what it was like when I was a kid.

Do you have a favourite pub?
Not really. Every part of London has its best. For Pearlies, the Gunmaker’s Arms is very authentic, very patriotic. We do quite a lot there and you can see all the info at our website, www.thepearlies.com

What’s the one thing every visitor should do?
To get a real view of London, go to the London Eye. It gives you a different perspective. And, if you get the chance, stand and cheer the runners in the London Marathon; it’s something else. I ran the marathon this year for the first time and the atmosphere is absolutely unbelievable. Running it is great, you get to see Big Ben, you run past fantastic landmarks. People need to come out for it, come rain or shine you will have a good day.

What’s the worst thing about London?
Public transport. I just don’t like it. You can be anywhere in minutes but it’s hard work being on a London bus. I’ve got my car; I can listen to my music, I’ve got my own space.

Is there a song that reminds you of London?
‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner.’ It’s a very Cockney, Pearly song. Or ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman.’ I remember that from when I was a kid. No modern ones – the old ones are the best and a lot more people know the words.


Louisa Hitchen