Soho's bohemian past remembered
The Colony Room Club in Dean Street closed its doors in 2008, but Sophie Parkin's engrossing, 300-page portrait of it brings that small, smelly, green upstairs bar-room into vivid life again. Opened in 1948, and presided over by Muriel Belcher, a bisexual Brummie, it was “far away from the maddeningly normal crowds outside.”
Soho was the postwar epicentre of bohemian life in London. The Colony Room was the key establishment for outsiders who wanted to be insiders, and vice versa. By comparison, the Chelsea Arts Club was a vicarage tea party.
The Colony's most totemic “regular” was Francis Bacon, but its roll call of the greats in the arts included painters Lucian Freud – who specialised in kicking people he didn't like – Frank Auerbach, Craigie Aitchison, writers such as William Burroughs and Dylan Thomas, and Warholian 15-minutes-of-fame celebs including Christine Keeler, the call-girl caught up in the 1960s spy scandal. Peter O'Toole (above), Ian Dury – even Damien Hirst and Keira Knightley have all been members.
But Parkin's book gives us a great deal more than a string of ticked-off drunken-cum-arty outrages. This is a valuable addition to the history of bohemian London. We learn as much about Soho as we do about the Colony Club, and this contextual thoroughness is what makes Parkin's book such an atmospheric, informative, and rather tender read.
'The Colony Room Club, A History of Bohemian Soho 1948-2008', by Sophie Parkin, is published by Palmtree Publishing
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 HSBC closes bank accounts belonging to Muslim clients in the UK
Led Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
New film Old Fashioned is 50 Shades of Grey for Christians, claims its creator
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
Guardians of the Galaxy review: A superficial and half-hearted Marvel film
R Kelly 'dropped' from Ohio music festival following backlash
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >