London - By Nail Lacquer


Recently I've been exploring London rather a lot. Not just the obvious tourist sites of our nation's capital, you understand.  After all, everyone goes to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Tower Bridge, don't they? And I've always fancied myself as an 'off-the-beaten-track' type of girl. No, I've been exploring some of the lesser known streets like Henrietta Street (in Covent Garden) and Basil Street (near Harrods). Places like Whitechapel (former haunts of Jack the Ripper and the 'Elephant Man' Joseph Merrick) and the Southbank (the vibrant arts area and home of the Royal Festival Hall and Shakespeare's Globe).

Not all that unusual, you might think, but hear me out. I've been able to to do this for around a tenner a visit and without leaving the house. In fact, I've done it without leaving my dressing table … using nothing more than a simple bottle of nail lacquer.

Ok, before you click back to another more sensible webpage, let me assure you that these are not the ravings of a mad woman. It is perfectly possible to explore our varied capital using nail polish. And I'll tell you how

Ok, so the idea of nail polish as a learning tool might seem a trifle unlikely. It might even seem a bit like a desperate validation of a nail polish addiction, and normally that wouldn't be beyond me, but hang on in there. For many years now Nails Inc - the largest nail bar chain in the UK, and producers of some of the highest-quality, and funkiest nail colours around - have been naming most of their polishes after locations in the UK's capital. From their early signature colours like 'South Molton Street' (the location of their HQ salon) and the deep and perfect red 'Tate' (the fabulous art gallery) to their newest limited edition of liquid metallics named after Lanesborough Place and Montpelier Square - two of the swankiest Knightsbridge streets, it's a tradition that, by and large, they stick to. It's nice to see something that's uniquely British celebrating its Britishness. After all, it's a London based company. And, frankly, despite the over hyping of New Labour, London, indeed Britain, is still cool in the extreme. But, for me, Nails Inc's use of London locations has proved highly educational. As far as I'm concerned my lust for learning and my lust for lacquer have happily dovetailed. Some may prefer to call it my general nosiness and need to pamper, but whatever …

You see, it may seem a trifle obsessive, but if I have a polish named 'Bruton Street', then I want to know where Bruton Street is. And I want to know whether the colour matches the place. Does it tie-in well with the street that gave it its name? Well, in case you don't know (and I didn't), Bruton Street is in Mayfair, so the colour - an expensive looking elegant pinky-beige - seems fairly appropriate. While Monmouth Street  (between Covent Garden and Shaftesbury Avenue) appropriately inspires an energetic bright pink. 

Like most non-Londoners I know where Piccadilly Circus (dark cerise), the Mall (metallic royal purple-blue) and the Serpentine (deep green-blue) are. But there are other streets I've heard of, like Burlington Arcade (upmarket burnished burgundy) and New and Old Bond Streets (silver and gold shimmer respectively) that I had either never visited or only passed by in a Black Taxi (and yes, Nails Inc do that colour too!) without really  absorbing where I was. As it happens those streets were chosen a couple of years ago by Nails Inc as a Winter collection reflecting the glitz of some of London's most glamorous shopping locations. Other Christmas time collections have included Somerset House (red glitter in red), Covent Garden Ballet (a glittery purple) and Regent's Street Lights (a glowing gold) - all locations of popular Yuletide events. But for me the real fascination lies in the lesser known streets like Motcomb Street (couture , beauty and fancy food with a glossy navy polish) Maddox Street (a fairly swish lane in Mayfair with a gun-metal grey metallic lacquer) and Mount Street (a fabulous chocolate brown for a foodie delight).

Some names, of course, are just more enticing than others. Take Electric Avenue, for example. Now, if you're at least as old as me you'll probably already know, thanks to the Eddy Grant song of the same name, that this is in Brixton - see the opportunities to better our geography crop up all over our daily lives! But now younger folks know too - thanks to it's inclusion in the Nails Inc All That Glitters collection. Assuming they take the time to find out.  But surely everyone would be compelled to investigate such a stunning silver glitter and fabulous name? But I'm not sure the same is true of all the names. It could just be me, but Pall Mall, home to many of London's exclusive gentlemen's clubs, and given a pale oyster pink, does nothing for me. Is it the colour, or the name? I don't know. Am I so shallow as to disregard a nail colour based solely on its name? I fear I may be and that probably ought to worry me more than it does.

But shallow or not, at least I know that, thanks to my nail colour obsession, I'm a lot wiser. So if you happen to find yourself lost in London, you can always give me a call. I'm sure I could help you find your destination … just so long as there's a nail polish named after it.