Conrad Gamble is a man after my own heart—like me, he has a passion for London and Londoners, so much so that he published his first book under the title “For the Love of London”.
This book contains 100 stories told by 100 Londoners, many you’ll know, like Stephen Fry, but many you won’t. Each contributes in their own unique way what they love about this glorious city. As Conrad puts it, “From leaders in their own field to local legends, these are the people whose beat sets the rhythm of London.”
In addition to his writing, Conrad is a performance poet—and curates a monthly poetry night across London called Ear Smoke. He invited me to his home overlooking London Fields in Hackney, the perfect backdrop for our relaxed and insightful conversation on everything from London to neuroplasty.
“It wasn’t so much my view of London that was so interesting to me—it was really the combination of characters that make up a place. You could be anywhere in the world but it’s really the people you’re with that then shapes the history and the aesthetic, vibe and the feeling of places”.[8:39]
‘For the Love of London’ came about organically when Conrad began working on the project—he sought out Londoners who weren’t necessarily well known, but rather people who had an attitude and engagement that spread further than just their own benefit. The process of meeting the 100 people who contributed to the book was a great, joyful, and also insightful experience for Conrad.
He broke the uncomfortable feeling of approaching strangers, to open up to him and London at large—highlighted by the fact he wrote Stephen Fry a letter about the book, on the spot, and handed it to him as Stephen was walking out the door of a London club.
“A poem is 4/5’s until it’s performed.” – Kate Tempest[31:90]
Conrad recites a poem that he used in his letter to Stephen Fry—the one that had Stephen responding with his piece for the book within 12 hours. And it has to do with neuroplasticity—the ability for the brain to change, adapt, and develop new pathways that can lead us to become new, hopefully better people.
His example involves going on autopilot one night and accidentally driving back to an old house, one you no longer live at. You can listen for yourself to feel the poem in its entirety, in case you missed Kate Tempest’s quote above.
Conrad is currently working on an ambitious film (which he has procured funding for) called Thunder Before Lightning. He’s staying a secretive about the film for now but definitely keep track of Conrad online to find out more when he decides to give up more about the film.