Chocolate, Movies and Classical Music

Gary will be moving to Greenwich in September to study philosophy and asks the following wise questions:

1) Is there a specialist Chocolate Shop in Greenwich, and if not where is the nearest one?

2)Where would i go to hear some jazz, classical, or improvised music in Greenwich (and failing Greenwich, where is the would be the nearest venue)?

3) Is there an independent cinema, which specialises in foreign cinema, and non-commercial films, (like, eg., the Electric Cinema)in Greenwich, and if not, where is the nearest one?

The Phantom replies:

I am delighted that someone with such good taste is coming to study in Greenwich. Fear not, Gary, there are going to be several fab things here that you will enjoy…

Hopefully people can chip in with things I’ve left out.

1) Greenwich doesn’t have a specialist chocolate shop that I’m aware of. It DOES, however, have a specialist traditional sweetie shop that sells lovely old-fashioned candies from jars. Mr Humbug should satisfy the sweetest of sweet-tooths, but if it’s the fruit of the cocoa plant you’re after, then you probably need to trek across the heath (a lovely Sunday walk) to Madame Chocolat, which I haven’t actually got around to officially reviewing yet, but which is a tiny chocolate shop at the crossroads in the centre of the village and sells minute ‘proper’ chocs and even has a couple of tiny tables and chairs.

2) Greenwich must be one of the best-served towns in London for classical music. Trinity College of Music (next door to your campus in Greenwich at The Old Royal Naval College) has regular lunchtime and evening recitals during term time, the majority of which are free. You will be able to pick up a programme at many venues around town. There are also odd professional concerts at Painted Hall, The Chapel at The Old Royal Naval College, St Alfege’s Church and, if you’re feeling flush, at the Dome Arena. St Alfege’s church also hosts the Thomas Tallis Choir, which is well-worth catching too. If you’re into early music, The International Early Music Festival is held every November, and it’s worth picking up a leaflet about events at The Pepys visitor centre.

Blackheath Halls, again across the heath, is a purpose-built classical venue which holds some fabulous concerts.

Jazz at Greenwich is a patchy affair. You’re pretty lucky if you like trad – The Lord Hood will become a favourite haunt, and there are other venues that have trad jazz. There’s also a peripatetic jazz band that marches around Greenwich with umbrellas and sousaphones at the drop of a flat-fifth.

If you prefer other styles, then you should check out Oliver’s, run by the enjoyably eccentric Olivier, which has an eclectic programme and Peter de Wit’s, possibly the tiniest Jazz restaurant ever, which despite it’s size manages to put on ‘lyric jazz’ every Friday and Saturday. Other venues tend to be less regular – we sadly lost a lot when Greenwich Inc took over many of the restaurants in the town centre. There is a ‘Riverfront Jazz festival’ which is an oddity. It has a tendency to rather peculiar programming – the same names cropping up year in, year out, and some very bizarre bookings which don’t seem to have any cohesion. Still – at least it’s there. And of course the Indigo2 at the Dome has just opened. I’ll be reviewing that in the next day or so, once I’ve been.

I can’t help feeling I’m missing something out here, but I’m sure I’ll be set right by someone.

Improvised music – either jazz or contemporary – hmm. I don’t hear of much of any variety. Probably Trinity is your best bet again. Maybe someone else can suggest something.

3) We have the lovely Greenwich Picturehouse in Greenwich High Road. Recently re-opened by the Picturehouse chain, it shows a mixture of mainstream and slightly more offbeat material. We’re not looking at seriously hardcore avant-garde (probably have to go to the national Film Theatre for that – it’s a train ride – go to Waterloo East,) but if you’re after the odd subtitled movie or indie short, you’ll be perfectly happy at the picture house. Do become a member – as a student you’ll get a great deal that will almost pay you to go…

I cannot really talk about student life in Greenwich – sadly the locals and the students seem to hapily coexist without ever really meeting each other – but you’ll have plenty of opportunity to find out about te joys of being a student in Greenwich during Freshers Week. Good luck!

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