After Hours

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The Independent Culture
I live in central London, so I often end up at a little Italian place off Cambridge Circus in Soho called Pollo. It's nice and cheap, and the service is brusque. Just down the road is the Patisserie Valerie, 44 Old Compton St, W1 - it's good for coffee and the croissants are already on the table. They're open late and the staff are the most continental in London, always swivelling their hips as they bring your cakes.

To eat, I like Wagamama, a Japanese place that's probably not fashionable any more, but it's great fun. There's always a queue. You can get a big main course for about a fiver, and sit at long tables - there are no romantic little corners - and the waiters have little pocket calculators that they take your order on and send by radio to the kitchen. It's a real 'get in, stuff your face and get out' place - I think they make the coffee taste foul so you don't hang around long.

I'm a member of the Hellfire Club, which is a little place through a doorway in Brewer St, London W1. At weekends it's a sort of private bondage club after the disco ends, where you get people dressed up in all sorts of bridles and straps. It's the sort of place a young Aussie hears about and jumps at the chance to join. . . you think 'Ah, London, I've made it]'. There's one guy who lies under a rug. You're invited to tread on him, but you shouldn't peek. . . it would ruin his night. It's really dark and smokey and you get people suddenly crowding round chanting 'Do it, do it'. You English don't do sex as often as we do, but you do it well. Australians are too laid back for this - to want to be spanked for hours by a total stranger you've got to be pretty tense.

Tim Ferguson is one of The Doug Anthony All Stars. They release an album, 'Dead and Alive', on East West, 15 Nov

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