Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Phil Clifton, radio and TV presenter

The XFM host on moving to London, floppy hair – and his baby, the Saturday afternoon vintage markets at the Grafton

Phil Clifton: 'A hairdresser once told me I had “shit Polish hair”. I didn’t tip'
Phil Clifton: ‘A hairdresser once told me I had “shit Polish hair”. I didn’t tip’

Phil Clifton has presented on MTV and Channel 4, as well as at The BRIT Awards. He currently hosts a show on alternative music station XFM every Friday and Sunday. He’s lived in the area since he moved to London six years  ago, and in his spare time runs a local pop-up craft and vintage market, which returns to the Grafton for a festive edition this Saturday, 12-5pm.

When were you happiest?
When I first started out I was living on Grafton Road, and worked at the Pineapple to make some extra cash. With it being such a locals’ pub, it was my first real experience of how in the vastness of London you can still find yourself a little community. That’s what Kentish Town means to me really.

Where would you like to live?
The entire building above the Assembly House is beautiful, like a castle. I could see myself in the evening sipping on some elaborate cocktail, gazing out of the window and pretending I was a lord. I’d have a bell and a butler to fetch me Sam’s Chicken on request, along with various snacks from the 24 hour offy.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
Kentish Town has a variety of amazing qualities, but I’d never say the smell is one of them. But a view? The sunset over the railway bridge with the heath in the background is an absolute show-stopper.


What is your greatest life achievement?
I don’t have kids yet, so my work, I guess. Presenting backstage at the BRIT Awards was a dream. Oh and the first time I was on Channel 4: my name in the credits at the end felt like such a massive thing.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
There is no one answer to this question which isn’t regrettable at a later date.

What is your earliest K-Town memory?
Leaving Manchester on impulse one day, I jumped on a train to London (I’d heard The Libertines and Amy Winehouse lived here so that sounded cool to me). I had a rucksack and only £100 in my account, got a bar job and stayed in a youth hostel in Camden – but Kentish Town was my first proper home here. I think I remember my first thoughts stepping off the tube being, “This place looks alright…why is that lady wearing Victorian clothing?”

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
I’d like to have my family closer, and be able to see my nieces and nephews more often.

What is your most unappealing habit?

What is your guilty pleasure?
Any of the following words: Shall, We, Go, For, A, Cheeky or Half.

‘The entire building above the Assembly House is beautiful, like a castle’. Photo: Stephen Emms
Where do you hang out?
Most of my best pals live in the area and I share a place with my other half, so generally we have the aforementioned halves wherever we find ourselves: the Grafton, Shebeen, Lion and Unicorn occasionally. I love Quinn’s too – that place is special.

Who or what do you hate and why?
I don’t really hate anyone. I dislike some people but I’m sure lots of people dislike me so whatchagonado?

What’s been your best experience here?
I really enjoy the Christmas Markets we put on at The Grafton. We also have a drunk Santa… You don’t get much more festive than that, right?

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My hair does this floppy thing when it’s windy. No amount of product (or cement, for that matter) can hold it in place. A hairdresser once told me I had “shit Polish hair”. So that was nice. I didn’t tip.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“Hi, nice to meet you. So tell me your unique selling point?”

What is your favourite dish and why?
Mexican food because a) it’s delicious, and b) thanks to those incredibly simple-to-use kits, it’s the one thing I can actually cook.

What did you do today?
I’m working from home while my boiler gets fixed. It’s taken the handyman seven whole days to restore heating to our house. Merry Christmas to him.

Describe yourself as an animal.
Oh something rubbish probably.

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