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The Rurbanist: Q&A with Nigel Slater

An exclusive interview with Nigel Slater our August Rurbanist

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Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, says Nigel Slater

The Rurbanist: Q&A with Nigel Slater
Nigel Slater credit Piers Foley for Target Live (2)

Where’s home?

I have lived in Highbury in north London for half my life, so it feels more like home that the Midlands where my family is from. Strangely, Helsinki feels more like home than London. It is smaller, so I know more of it than I do of my own city and after umpteen visits I probably know it better than anywhere else.

Where do you go to ‘lose’ yourself? 

I spend a month a year in Japan. It is a very easy to place in which to forget everything about your day to day life.

Mount fuji at Lake kawaguchiko with cherry blossom in Yamanashi near Tokyo, Japan.

Daily rituals?

Making coffee at 6am, when I get up to start writing. I have three small mugs which I use in rotation, all made by the same potter but each slightly different. They are washed up and put back in place after use, in exactly the right order on the kitchen shelf.

Best thing a cabbie has ever said to you?

“My wife reads your books in bed. There are three of us in this marriage, Nigel.”

What item of clothing do you wear the most?

A dark indigo cotton work jacket. To be honest I am rarely seen without it – it is actually one of two identical ones that I wear on alternate days.

Nigel Slater Book and Coffee

Last book you read?

Robert Macfarlane’s Underland. He took me on a deep underground journey all over the world, which to someone as claustrophobic as myself is quite an undertaking.

What has been the most valuable piece of advice you have ever received?

My father told me never to be scared to get my hands dirty. He was right. Rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in to something is hugely satisfying.

What brings out the worst in you and why? 

I am seriously impatient, so I get cross with people who walk slowly or take a long time to do anything.

The last song that made you dance

Destroy Everything You Touch by Ladytron. At the gym, with my headphones on.

Nigel Slater credit Piers Foley for Target Live (6)

Favourite game?

I play Risk with my best friend on train journeys. He doesn’t ‘always’ win.

What would really improve your life?  

Easy. Another day in the week. That extra day would suit me very well – then I could have two days off.

Where was the last place you ‘discovered’?

I went to Seoul for the first time this year and loved it. Such a fun and vibrant city. I can tell I will be going back regularly.

Nigel Slater’s Toast is currently playing at The Other Palace in London’s West End, before touring the UK. For more information, please visit


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