Monday, February 11, 2013
Actor Tom Conti, who counts Thierry Henry among his neighbours, has lived in Hampstead for 45 years. The 71-year-old has stared in everything from Shirley Valentine to 2012 blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises.
Tell us a hidden secret about the area?
One of the joys of living here is you never take a walk in Hampstead without seeing something you’ve never seen before – every single time. It’s remarkable that you can live in an area for 45 years, like I have, and literally every day you see something new.
You’re mayor for the day, what would you change?
I would declare independence from Camden because it does not understand what Hampstead is about. For example, take this whole Thierry Henry debacle [the footballer is redeveloping his home], I just got back from Los Angeles on Monday to find there is a massive digger which looks like a dinosaur demolishing the house. The noise is phenomenal and at the same time we’ve had a letter through the door to say people two doors down want to dig into the ground to enlarge the basement. This is a residential area but Camden thinks it is some sort of industrial park by allowing these sorts of development.
How would you spend your perfect Sunday?
That one is easy. I would spend it in the garden with friends having a nice lunch or of an evening, if it’s warm enough, sit out.
You have £100 to blow in Hampstead; what would you spend it on?
There is not much of any use shopwise these days. There’s nowhere you can buy music anymore, for example. I might go to Fawkes bookshop, and then maybe take a trip to Le Cellier du Midi in Church Row for some food. But you don’t get much for £100 these days.
What makes you smile on a bad day?
The good fortune of being able to live here, really. Once you get past all the hideous problems of parking and the rest of it, you just realise what a privilege it is to live here.
If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?
We do have a joke in our family, which would be unprintable in the Ham&High, but really someone else would have to write my epitaph, not me.
Tom Conti was in conversation with Josh Pettitt