At home with David Lewis and Lucy Cox
This airy one-bedroom garden flat in north London is home to journalist and stand-up comedian David Lewis and his girlfriend Lucy Cox, who works for a charity. From the couple’s opening gambit of how they met on a television dating show to discussing their love for all things 1930s, and recent Dracula-inspired holiday, we were so enjoying our chat that we almost forgot why we were visiting in the first place.
David bought the flat in 2014 (and documented his stressful experience of getting on the property ladder in the height of the financial boom in a blog for the Huffington Post). Lucy moved in just over a year ago: ‘It may look like I made my mark mostly with clutter but when I moved in, I think what I added was different ideas of how to use the space more logically,’ she recalls. Today, their home – which they share with Rothschild the cat – is furnished with a mix of much-loved vintage pieces, including a 1960s dining table that belonged to Lucy’s grandparents.
How did the two of you meet?
Lucy: On a television show called Dinner Dates which is basically a dating version of Come Dine with Me. The picker (who was David) chooses from five menus and then has dinner cooked for them by three different people. At the end, the picker chooses a favourite for a second date. My whole reason for applying was to have a nose around other people’s houses – having anyone watch me cook was my nightmare – and I nearly pulled out when I found out that I couldn’t be the picker.
It’s a good job that you didn’t. What was your menu?
L: I used to host a monthly dinner party called World Supper Club. For Dinner Dates, I took the highlights of dishes I’d made for World Supper Club and paired each one with booze: the starter was a mini mac and cheese with an American style pale ale; the main course was Mexican street food with an amber ale from a Mexican brewery; and the dessert was White Russian cupcakes served over the top of a White Russian cocktail.
Such an inventive menu! David, does Lucy do most of the cooking?
David: Lucy enjoys cooking whereas I enjoy eating. I’m not a very confident chef but every Monday I try and cook something new. A lot of the time I use the Waitrose recipe cards, which funnily enough, I found out recently, are written by a friend of mine.
What appealed to you about this flat?
D: The thing that I first noticed was the bamboo at the end of the shared garden. I also liked the high ceilings and the location. This is a conservation area so it’s very quiet and very green. I grew up a couple of miles north of here in Muswell Hill but I didn’t know this area well before.
David, you split your time between journalism and comedy. Do you have a preference?
D: I do really love the comedy because it’s something that’s very much my own. It’s a nice challenge; it feels quite rewarding if you come up with a joke and it gets laughs. Lucy was saying recently, and I agree, that it’s not quite enough just to be a funny person in a pub. It’s a good start but ultimately you need to be more. I try to be very honest in my comedy. Through hosting my stand-up nights, I’ve also met some of the nicest, most talented people and everyone has an interesting story to tell about why they got into comedy.
Speaking of which, what’s your story?
D: I grew up with three siblings and I suppose I was always trying to be the entertainer. I ended up doing comedy for a while, then quitting, doing it and quitting. Then I decided to start a night which in its current guise is called Big Nose Comedy and it just carried on from there. Now I host several shows, including Putting on the Ratz, a 1930s immersive comedy cabaret show which I started in 2016.
And how did you get into journalism?
D: I struggled through school and didn’t really take a career very seriously until my late 20s. I lived all over the world: Australia, Moscow, Paris, the Czech Republic… I went to South Korea for the World Cup in 2002 and stayed for almost a year teaching English as a foreign language. It’s a good way in. Of course you’re an outsider but you’re not quite a tourist. Then when I was working as a tour guide in Cairo I thought, I need to get my life in order a little bit, so I came back and did a Masters degree in history and politics, followed by a journalism diploma.
Do you still travel much now?
D: Not as much as I used to but last year Lucy and I had the most brilliant summer holiday based on the novel Dracula. We recreated the train journey that Jonathan Harker, the main character, did to Transylvania. We went from London to Paris, Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest. It was magnificent.
I love the originality of that. How are you going to better it in 2019?
L: I’d like to do something cruise ship-y. The 1930s was such a golden age of travel. I’ve got a bit of an obsession with the SS Normandie. I think it was the most perfect Art Deco thing that ever existed, down to every last detail.
Ah yes, the 1930s. I sense a recurring theme! What is it that you both love about the era?
D: The aesthetic is beautiful. And there’s something that was happening then that’s mirrored in something that’s going on now. It was a time of great progress and great hysteria plus great beauty. The future became very real very quickly; it ended badly in the war, obviously, but there’s a great glamour to it.
L: Last year Eltham Palace had an open weekend where they had people pretending to be the Courtauld family who did the Art Deco makeover on it and it was brilliant. I have a sad obsession with pairing my outfit to the occasion and I went with a Jean Harlow look.
It doesn’t sound sad to us – it sounds brilliant!
L: I am very interested in everything vintage, from clothing to films. I do a lot of charity shopping and am looking to start selling vintage stuff; I’ve already started testing it out on eBay.
How else do you both spend your downtime?
D: We like to flâneur a lot; our idea of a fun day is walking around looking at buildings. There is a great joy in finding something accidentally: walking with no particular place to go is a very much under vaunted exercise. Senate House is one of my favourite buildings in London. It’s a brutalist building and I think it’s beautiful.
L: I do an occasional Instagram called The Daily Erection where I post pictures of architecturally interesting buildings I like, along with a bit of history about them. I used some of the pictures to create a calendar for us.
Any other interesting social media feeds you’d like to share?
L: My friend and I do a podcast called Mew, which started as an online magazine where we try to dispel the myth of crazy cat ladies. We’ve done a few episodes, including one on black cats and naming cats which stemmed from trying to come up with a name for Rothschild.
Buzzing with ideas of architectural buildings to visit and podcasts to listen to (as well as having cheekily bagged ourselves an invite to the World Supper Club dinner party when it resumes) we reluctantly take our leave. For the latest on David’s comedy nights, visit the Big Nose Comedy page on Facebook and the Ha Bloody Ha! website.