October 4, 2020

Living the Cheapskate life: podcaster & radio host James Barr on pizza, free Pret coffees & VERY public naps

James Barr is a comedian, Hits Radio breakfast presenter and the co-host of the award-winning LGBTQ+ podcast A Gay and A NonGay . Here, he shares his top London 'hacks', including his favourite local pizza place, the best spots to take a (very public) nap and his tips for getting a free Pret coffee.

James Barr

1. I rest my head in…

In the old world, when I was running from meeting to meeting, fitting in a yoga class and editing my podcast over lunch (so exhausting), I would literally take a nap wherever I could, on the tube, the train, a Costa. I have no shame.

2. Where’s the cheapest place you’ve lived in London? And the most expensive?

I actually lived in a spare room above Bond Street tube station and it was one of the cheapest places I’ve lived as it was owned by a close friend. It wasn’t ideal, I think it had been used as an address for sex workers so for a while there were all sorts of men ringing the bell. It's pretty normal for me to have gentleman callers, but these guys weren’t asking for me. I lived in Old Street after that; it was so expensive and so awful. I was in a warehouse-y area, it was outdated and overpriced.

3. Have you had any disastrous London rental experiences?

I’m really lucky in that I mostly rented from Daddy Gays that I knew. The only disaster is Old Street; I forgot to check out the bathroom when I viewed it and it was NOT selfie ready. There’s no way I could’ve posted thirsty shower pics on my Instagram.

4. Where’s your favourite place to eat for cheap?

Greggs at London Bridge. What a dreamy stop. I'd order a vegan sausage roll. I’m not vegan but it tastes too good and I feel like part of the liberal London elite by ordering one.

5. Your perfect no-spend London day would involve…

My bed. I’ve struggled with my mental health since living in London and there is honestly nothing safer than the comfort of your own bed. The struggle of keeping up with everyone’s success and fabulousness can be a lot to handle so my perfect no-spend day would be spent in bed (except I’d end up ordering Deliveroo). I also love riding the Thames Clippers to nowhere, but again, that’s not technically no-spend.

6. Have you ever had a free Pret coffee?

OMG, I have! For me, the trick was telling the truth. I was asked “How are you?”, so I replied brutally and said I was feeling pretty upset and angry because a boss hadn’t approved my holiday... and the employee gave me my flat white free.

7. Where’s your favourite free place to visit in the city?

Greenwich Park. It’s without a doubt the most beautiful spot in the city. The views across the capital feel like a postcard.

8. What’s your top London ‘hack’?

DO NOT MOVE SOMEWHERE BECAUSE IT’S NEAR CROSSRAIL. You’ll end up in Woolwich.

9. If you were mayor for the day, what would you change about London?

I’d get Crossrail open. I’d keep Covid road closures in Soho permanent and I’d give out free bananas.

10. If you were going to splurge in London, where would it be?

Harrods! I’d get my nails done. I think I’d probably have a boozy brunch and buy a fabulous gown.

11. What's your favourite small businesses?

There’s an amazing, authentic and super cute Italian in the heart of Soho called La Porchetta! The pizza is SO GOOD and made right in front of you, a bit like Pizza Express but actually Italian and you probably won’t see Prince Andrew there. Bonus.

12. In three words, what makes someone a Londoner?

Open-minded, fun, huns.

James Barr co-hosts the award-winning A Gay and A NonGay podcast and presents the Hit Radio Pride breakfast show every Sunday morning. Check out his Twitter here.

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