Jonathan Sale is a journalist and author of Telling Tales out of School – a miscellany of celebrity schooldays, which was based on a long-running interview series in The Independent. He has also written for The Times, The Guardian, Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph.

How long have you lived in the area?
Can it really be 42 years?

What brought you here?
The estate agent’s blurb. This made our house seem even more wonderful than it is. And missed out the bits like the ropey roof which was calling out “Help me!” (We did.)

What has changed most during that time?
The road surface – Honor Oak Rise was at first “unadopted” by the council, ie consisted of gravel which was washed away down Forest Hill Road when it rained.

What do you most value about the area/street you live in?
One Tree Hill; my garden backs on to it. A signpost at the top points to “Ruth Sale Rise”, the steep row of steps named in honour of my late wife.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?
My bicycle. Since I gave the car to my partner Diana, it’s a much faster journey over the 10.74 miles to her house in Gospel Oak, NW5.

Do you know your neighbours?
Yes, particularly Paul and Di. We have a deal: they invite me to the most magnificent meals – and I promise I really am going to invite them back any day now.

The most famous person you’ve seen or met?
I’ve interviewed two of the Monty Python team: Michael Palin and Terry Jones. Terry lived two miles away in Camberwell when his brother had the house next door to mine; he could keep an eye on us both through the high-powered telescope in his study.

Do you belong to any groups?
I’m on the committee of Friends of One Tree Hill and on their workdays I snip twigs with clippers (under extremely close supervision). Having had my arm twisted very nicely, I’m Chair of the Residents’ Association and also of the local ward of the Labour Party.

Where’s your favourite place to walk?
One Tree Hill, of course. That’s me over there in the brambles, trying to find our dog who is snuffling through tiny canine routes in the undergrowth.

What is your favourite shop?
Rye Books in Upland Road. It must be good – it stocks my book!

What is your secret ambition?
To get my partner to join me in Honor Oak – but it may well be me who sells up and joins her in Gospel Oak. I’m working on the blurb for the estate agents: “Wonderful house with roof that keeps out rain …”

Telling Tales out of School is available at

This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of SE23 magazine