My perfect day would begin with a walk with my dog, Coco, on Hampstead Heath, on a nice sunny morning. What’s lovely about taking Coco on the Heath is her interaction with all the other dogs. She’s still a bit puppyish and just goes mad at all the smells – the foxes and everything else – and she likes to chase around with other dogs.
I also think it’s wonderful when you’re up on the high point, on Parliament Hill, you can look out and see all the way across London: the Shard rising, Canary Wharf, St Paul’s. It really gives you a sense of the ancient and the modern in London.
Then, when Coco’s exhausted, I’d sit and read the papers with a cappuccino, or if I wanted to be really wicked, a large fry-up. There’s a place across the road from Hampstead Heath station called Polly’s that does a nice fry-up.
After breakfast, we’d go to one of the museums or the zoo. The kids love going round the zoo or the Natural History Museum, and in particular the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Lots of Londoners have never been, and most haven’t been since it was remodelled. It’s about the most child-friendly museum in London: if you sit in the main atrium, you can pretty much see all the way round and the kids can just go running around, having a great time.
There are so many wonderful old trains and Tube trains, and things like that, that kids today must think are antique, but I remember them running. There’s a collection of all the buses we’ve ever had, going back to the horse-drawn ones. In a fairly tight and confined space you can see the entire history of public transport in London, and unlike so many other museums, it’s not all, “Ooh, don’t touch, it’ll fall apart.” Kids can climb over everything.
I’d then take my children Tom and Mia, who are eight and nine, to Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. The music is brilliant but it’s also not so complex that they won’t understand the plot. It’s a bit schmaltzy but I mean, here are heroic workers in struggle against an evil tyranny – I identify with it totally! And it’s a nice romantic story as well.
Then afterwards, I’d walk round the corner to the Pavilion restaurant in Poland Street. It’s wonderful: everything’s cooked fresh, there are no microwaves, the portions are just the right size and they always have something imaginative and new. It’s one of those restaurants where you know it’s good because the same staff are always there – it’s been run by the same two guys for the 30 years I’ve been going there.
Ken Livingstone was London’s first elected mayor, from 2000 to 2008