Historian and biographer Amanda Foreman thinks London cab drivers are the best in the world and its underground the worst Interview by Anna Pursglove

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend in London?
A weekend that includes shopping, dinner at the Savoy and a trip to the theatre.

What did you dream about last night?
I had lots of dreams last night. One of them was definitely about travelling (I travel between New York and London a lot). I think I was worrying about getting somewhere on time.

Are you a member of any club?
My local Hammersmith and Fulham community gym.

How long have you lived in London?
On and off for most of the 31 years of my life. I was born at St. Mary’s, Paddington.

Where do you live and why?
In Fulham, because it’s good value for money. You can basically have a house in Fulham or a flat in Notting Hill. Although I also have a place in New York, I think home is where you would want to be buried, so London is home.

If money were no object, where would you like to live in London?
Mayfair, because it has the best-preserved Georgian houses in London.

Where are you least likely ever to live in London?
Clerkenwell, because it’s so dead at the weekend.

Where do you go for a cup of coffee?

What was the last book you bought and where did you buy it?
Rembrandt’s Eyes by Simon Schama from Nomad Books in Fulham.

When was the last time you went to a nightclub?
About nine months ago I went to Annabel’s.

What shop are you too self-conscious to go into?
I would’nt go into Voyage, but that’s because I’m against exclusive membership in any form.

When did you last complain and why?
Yesterday – I was waiting for the Heathrow to Paddington Express at Terminal Three. All the passengers were herded on to one part of theplatform as the train pulled in, then the doors closed before everbody could get on. I complained about the lack of information because, if people had been told the train was full, they would have been able to to make other plans. At first everybody stood around and watched me complain, then once I was in full flow, they all joined in.

What’s the most overrated thing in London?
The Met Bar.

Who do you tip?
I try to tip everybody ten per cent and I tip 15 per cent in restaurants.

What will you do on New Year’s Eve?
I’ll be spending it with my fiance in New York.

What makes you proud to be a Londoner?
The cab drivers. They’re the best in the world and I say that having sampled cab rides all over the world.

What makes you embarrassed to be a Londoner?
The Tube system – it’s the worst in the world. I know it’s Victorian but it’s still useless.

Who should be on the plinth in Trafalgar Square?
Margaret Thatcher.

Where’s the sexiest place in London?
Nam Long Le Shaker cocktail bar. I’ve never seen so much testosterone flying about. You have to negotiate a jungle of hormones to get to the bar. I find it all very amusing.

What’s the last thing you bought in M & S?

Do you plan to visit the Dome?
No. I really object to the amount of public money that’s been wasted on it.

Which shop could you not live without?

What’s your most memorable night out?
My fiance and I were in London and we went to see The Memory of water at the Vaudeville Theatre. After the play, we went to the Savoy – which is one of my favourite places in London – for a meal and we stayed the night there. The whole evening was just perfect. It was relaxing and fun and elegant and glamorous all at the same time.

Would you rather go to Wagamama or Wong Kei?
Wong Kei.

Where did you celebrate your last birthday?
At my house in London.

Have you ever ordered “off-menu”?
I ordered French fries at the Mirabelle when they weren’t on the menu. I like to have French fries with everything.

What is your favourite view?
I love the view along the Embankment.

What’s your favourite building?
The M15 building.

What don’t you leave London without?
My diary.

Have you ever used your celebrity status to get in somewhere?
Never and I really don’t think it would be very effective if I tried.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?
I was once walking through Piccadilly when a bird shat on my head. I was at a low point in my life and from then on things started to go right for me – people do say it’s lucky.

What and where is your favour painting or work of art?
A miniature of Georgiana and Bess (two of the leading figures in Foreman’s book Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire) by Francois Dumont in the Wallace Collection.

Where do you go bargain hunting of what’s your favourite market?
My local fruit and veg market in North End Road.

If New York is the Big Apple, what is London?
A goat’s cheese and rocket salad.

What last made you cry?
A play called Wit that I saw in New York. It’s a wonderful play about an academic dying of cancer and I cried my eyes out.

Where in London would you have your ashes scattered?
Golders Green because that’s where my father’s ashes are.

If your house were on fire, which three things would you rescue?
My photos, my family mementoes and my computer disks

Copyright© Evening Standard