London calling: Brian Paddick's London home

In his last flat, Brian Paddick was besieged by the media. Now the mayoral candidate has moved onwards – and upwards – to some rooms with a view
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The Independent Online

I'm currently training for the London Marathon, and if I become mayor, I'll be able to run along the river to my office at City Hall in 20 minutes. My home is a one-bedroom flat on Albert Embankment in Vauxhall. The front of the block is an office conversion – it used to be the headquarters of British Steel. I'm in the new-build section, which is three years old and is attached to the back of it. There are 12 floors – I'm on the fifth, half-way up.

I've lived in this flat since September, and I paid £425,000 for it. I live on my own most of the time, although my partner is with me at the moment – he's a civil engineer and we're in a long-term relationship. I used to live in Nine Elms Lane – not very far away – where I had a two-bedroom flat on the river, with a large terrace. The sad-but-true story is that I bought the flat, went away for a three-week holiday while it was completely redesigned and renovated, and then came back to find that my ex had done a kiss-and-tell story with the The Mail on Sunday that weekend. [In 2001, The Mail on Sunday published a false story by Paddick's former partner, claiming that Paddick had used cannabis. The following year, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that no charges would be brought against him and the newspaper was forced to apologise and pay damages.] So then I was holed up in that flat with reporters camped outside. There were lots of unfortunate memories associated with that flat, so when I left the police, I decided I wanted a completely new start, which included moving home.

My block has a 24-hour concierge, so it's very secure. It's 10 minutes' walk across Lambeth Bridge to my office in Cowley Street, and I can walk to Covent Garden in 20 minutes. The flat is very convenient for transport. There's a bus that takes me to Sloane Square for shopping in Knightsbridge and one at the end of the road goes to Oxford Circus. Vauxhall station is an overground and Tube station, so it's well connected.

That said, this flat is very small. There's an entrance hall, a marble bathroom and big walk-in cupboard, which is absolutely full because of that move from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom flat. Straight ahead is a double bedroom, with mirrored wardrobes and a glass door that opens on to a small balcony. Opposite is a very decorative 19th-century building, which is great to look out on to.

The living space is a kitchen, dining room and long lounge in one. The fitted kitchen at one end has a marble floor and the rest of the space has wood flooring. There's a dining-room table and chairs and two sofas opposite each other.

If ever I had a fire here, the one object I'd rescue would be my coffee table. It is wonderful and I had to wait four months for it because the glass tops are difficult to manufacture. It's made to an original 1940s design by the Japanese designer Isamu Noguchi and cost about £600 from Heal's. It is a normal-sized coffee table, very simple – just thick plate glass on a two-piece wooden stand. The dining- room table is similar: it's a black wooden two-piece base with a glass top. The dining chairs are leather with chrome frames. The table and chairs are from Heal's as well. I've also got a modern storage thing from Heal's, called Check.

I'd like to replace the kitchen as it's a bit small and I would also like to have one very long sofa along one wall, rather than the two facing each other, and wall units along the other. That would all cost quite a bit, probably about £30,000. Because I can't afford to furnish the flat as I want, the style is thrown together – an eclectic mix of old and new. There are white walls and white covers on the sofas, so it's pretty monochromatic, although there are a couple of rugs that add some colour. One rug is blues and browns, which reflects the colours in a painting on the wall that I am fond of. The other rug is Iranian, which is between the sofas and under the Noguchi table. At the far end of the kitchen/ lounge/ diner is another door to the balcony.

In the hall, there are a couple of paintings by an octogenarian artist called Gerard Blakely who, when I first met him, was living in an artists' colony in St Ives in Cornwall. He saw coverage of me when all the kiss-and-tell and cannabis stuff was going on in 2001, and felt that my face personified integrity. He wrote to me at Scotland Yard and said he wanted to paint me. We met up and he did just that. He had an exhibition down in St Ives and invited me down to see it. I bought the portrait of myself and I saw his painting of Diana, Princess of Wales, painted in abstract form. Gerard gave me the one of Diana on long loan because he knew I liked it so much.

The only natural light in this place comes from the two floor-to-ceiling glass doors that lead to the balconies. If you stand on the balcony, you can see the river between two buildings. My block faces on to the river but my flat is on the side of the building, so I do have a river view – it's just that I have to lean out to see it.

'Line of Fire: The Autobiography of Britain's Most Controversial Policeman' has just been published by Simon & Schuster

Brian Paddick, 49, retired as a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police in May 2007. He was the UK's most senior openly gay officer. He is now the Liberal Democrat candidate for the London mayoral election. He lives in London.

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