st. john street

By Jonathan Heaf

The star-wrangling DJ takes Kanye’s meltdown and Bieber’s moods in his stylish stride at Luca

Is Nick Grimshaw still cool? This is, after all, precisely the reason why he was hired by the BBC in 2012 to host The Radio 1 Breakfast Show, taking over from the old, unfathomably uncool Chris Moyles. He certainly looks pretty cool as he hops from the back of a cab outside our lunch destination, all teeth and sports luxe.

Navy suede bomber, blue tailored trousers, black Vans and dark shades. He’s trendy yet clean, sort of Shoreditch via a bath, if you will; a hipster who’s made some decent wedge. The idea that authenticity (what young people think of as cool nowadays) can be upgraded for Joe Public via a little luxury befits our location, Luca, on St John Street in Clerkenwell. It’s run by the same team who run The Clove Club, a restaurant that brought sophisticated food - rather than just triple-cooked chips with aioli - to Shoreditch several years ago. This is their attempt at a posh Italian.

We begin by talking about Justin Bieber. Grimshaw and I - only school kids call him “Grimmy” - have something in common in that we both adore gossiping about famous people we’ve interviewed. Bieber, Beyoncé, Beckham, he’s done the lot. I tell him my worst interviewee by far was Christina Aguilera during her Stripped period. She was wearing so much fake tan that she left a trail of brown radioactive sludge wherever she perched. At the time, I remember thinking she resembled an enormous melted orange crayon.

“I’ve done Bieber every year since he was 14, so I’ve probably had deeper conversations with him than I’ve had with my own family,” he chuckles. Is he a terrible brat? “He used to be. But then every teenager is a dickhead, aren’t they? This year he came into the studio for a prerecord and he was monosyllabic and disinterested. I stopped the interview and asked him what the problem was. He told me he was hungover. So I got him a pint and a Nando’s. Celebrities are just dogs who need petting. Show them some love and they’ll be humping your leg before lunch.”

Speaking of which, we’ve ordered already: shaved fennel with pear salad and carpaccio of Hereford beef with oyster emulsion to start; for mains we choose pasta entrées: garganelli with pork sausage, tomato and anchovy (for him) and tiny pheasant milanese swimming in a peppery, sepia-coloured broth (for me). We drink lager and pale ale and agree the food is, although refined, broadly unexceptional.

Getting back to the gossip, I want his take on Kanye West - meltdown or precision press strategy? “Kanye might be having a nervous breakdown or he might just be really bored.” He’s bleached his hair, I say. Like with Britney Spears, extreme grooming is always a cultural cipher that indicates a celeb is one sad-face emoji short of self-immolation. “I like Kanye, or I like his music. I asked him once if he got lots of free stuff sent to him and he took it as an insult. ‘Do you think I’m cheap?’ he shouted. 'I drink champagne all day. Do you?’ No thanks, Kanye. It gives me dog breath.”

You can see why stars like Grimshaw. He’s brilliant fun, smart and utterly self-deprecating. “What I do isn’t work - it’s talking to myself in a room really early in the morning.” He doesn’t take talent, or himself, too seriously, thus he’s able to sweetly pop celebrities’ ego bubbles and talk to them like a normal person, something the swarming teams around megastars all too often are unable to do.

“I hate a kiss-ass,” he agrees. “Any celebrity that comes into the studio at 7am in the morning to be grilled by me and tells me how happy they are to be here is lying.” His realness has meant he’s been able to make friends with some of those he’s encountered along the way, Harry Styles, for one. Has he heard from Harry recently? “Sure, we texted this morning. He’s worried I won’t like his new solo record. He recorded it in Jamaica so I am praying it’s some awful white-man reggae.”

Cool? Yes, Nick Grimshaw will always be cooler than his employers -always has been, always will be. That’s why he didn’t fit in with Simon Cowell on The X Factor: “Everyone told me not to do it as it was so naff. Simon had weird energy: very Machiavellian.” So what happens when he eventually leaves The Radio 1 Breakfast Show? Where do DJs go to die? The pub? “I’m doing an internship,” he confesses proudly. “With Es Devlin, who designs huge stage sets for Adele and Beyoncé. I’ve been using a glue gun! I’ve always liked three things: music, nice shoes and good lighting. I’ve ticked two of those boxes, so why not the last?

"I’ve reached a point in my life where I know all that celebrity stuff is, ultimately, nonsense. What I need to think about is this: am I happy, am I healthy and am I being nice to my family? I guess it’s about being present.” Which is the least cool, but most honest thing Nick Grimshaw says all afternoon. GQ


Untitled by eric
Via Flickr:
beautiful block of Moss Street (the 900 block, even numbered) Bayou St. John waterway, New Orleans DSC08334


Jellybean Row by Jackson Chu
Via Flickr:
Kimberly Row, downtown St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada. Small, boxy, Victorian-style houses are iconic of downtown St. John’s Newfoundland. They get their name from the fact that they are multicolored like a bag of jellybeans.


Brookline - Coolidge Corner: John F. Kennedy National Historic Site by Wally Gobetz
Via Flickr:
The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, located at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, preserves the birthplace and early childhood home of the 35th President of the United States. In 1914 young banker Joseph P. Kennedy purchased this modest, 2-½-story residence in the Boston suburbs and moved into it with his new bride, the former Rose Fitzgerald, to start a family. Their eldest child, Joseph Jr., was born in Hull, Massachusetts, but his first three siblings, John, Rosemary and Kathleen were all born on Beals Street. Witthin a few years, the Kennedys quickly outgrew the residence and in 1921, when John was only 4 years old, they moved to a larger residence only a few blocks away, at the northeast corner of Naples and Abbotssford Roads. Since that time, the Kennedy home has had various owners. In 1961 the town of Brookline marked it with a commemorative plaque. 4 years later it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. The following year, the Kennedy family purchased it for preservation as a historic site. The President’s mother, Rose, supervised restoration and refurnishing of the first two floors to their 1917 appearance, and in 1967 the family donated the residence to the Federal Government. A nine-room, clapboarded structure dating from 1907, the house has a gabled and dormered roof and a small front porch. The first floor contains a hall, living room, dining room, and kitchen. The second floor contains a hall, study, guestroom, nursery, master bedroom (where John, Rosemary and Kathleen were all born), and bath. The furnishings of these two floors are either original or other Kennedy family items, period pieces, or reproductions. The recorded voice of the President’s mother describes the significance of each room. The third floor, originally a servants’ quarters, contains an administrative office and is not open to the public. A few other structures associated with the Kennedys are within easy walking distance of the national historic site including the John’s second childhood home, where the family loved from 1921 until 1927, before moving to Riverdale in Bronx, NY. It was in this house that Mrs. Kennedy bore three more children–Eunice, Patricia, and Robert–and John spent his years from 4 to 10, during which time he first went to school, learned to love sports, and established a lifelong reading habit. Jean and Edward were born after the family moved to New York. While they lived in Brookline, the Kennedys attended St. Aidan’s Catholic Church, on Freeman Street, which has since been extensively altered. Joseph, Jr., and John were baptized there and served as altar boys. They also attended nearby Dexter School, a private, nonsectarian institution also on Freeman Street, but the school has moved to a new campus and the building in which they went to class no longer stands. Finally, on Harvard Avenue, is the public Edward Devotion School, which they attended for a short time before transferring to the Dexter School. In front of the former is the Edward Devotion House, a historic structure dating from the early 1700’s. The Brookline Historical Society operates it as a museum. National Historic Register #67000001 Explore: May 7, 2007

“In Oregon, you don’t walk up to someone and tell them off for doing something wrong! You like, politely write them an email that passive aggressively suggests that you might be frustrated. When I started teaching in New Orleans, parents would walk up to me and just scream at me! And then hug me! And then like, kiss me on the cheek and then invite me for dinner. It’s this very honest, open willingness to say, ‘You’re going to make a lot of mistakes - you ARE making a lot of mistakes. I love you anyway. But don’t for a second believe that you have on a red cape, because that’s in your brain.’”