Death of the British Bohemian
It’s nearly Christmas, nowhere near Easter and yet, somehow, I feel like I have been resurrected. I wonder why? It has been a very strange year – what with Stephen disappearing /dying and all that. Still, soon it will be done and then there will be another one……
Last week I met up with a very nice chap called Nathan Larson in Patisserie Valerie in Soho. Now don’t get me started on Patisserie Valerie – or Maison Bertaux – or The French House- or The Coach and Horses for that matter – or else I’ll get overly sentimental and embarassing. Suffice to say that, if you know it, you will know that – along with places like Jerry’s , the Piccadilly Cafe and the Colony Rooms, it’s one of the few bits of old Soho left. Now I don’t want to sound too retro or whatever but in the ghastly homogenity and suffocating cafe-latte niceness of Blair’s Britain, it’s a relief to be able to passive smoke in peace somewhere. I know that there isn’t anything particularly beat or bohemian about some of those sad, pissed-up old lags in the Coach but at least it looks like a pub – or rather, should I say, it IS a pub – there are plenty of places that look like pubs – but aren’t, aren’t there? It’s amazing no? A few years ago, they ripped the guts out of all the old places and either tried to make them look like they were in New York, or did the gastro thing, or gave them that hideous new ‘media’ look…….and now, they have decided to change them again and are trying to make them look like ……pubs…..(I was in the Coach the other day with a friend – who was torn up over a girl and wondering if he does some work on a hardcore porno it might help get his rather wonderful non-porno films a chance – and he told me that the place will soon be sold – to a member of Madness – let’s pray he’s sane enough to leave it exactly like it is).
Anyway, so I met up with Nathan who kindly gave me the benefit of some of his laconic wisdom. He’s a very modest, talented dude who has done a load of cool film music and other things (see www.nathanlarson.com) and who is working on the new Stephen Frears film about the late, not-so-great Princess Di. We left and I blew what’s left of MY cool by not being able to find the key to my bicycle lock. I spent thirty minutes or so repeatedly ransacking my pockets, my bag and the cafe, and swearing in a blind rage – only to find it – still in the lock on my bike. Now, what this means is that either Londoners have become a lot less observant – or a lot more honest. I mean they could have nicked my bike without seeming to and then been able to lock it up themselves TO PREVENT ME NICKING IT BACK! Later I went to see Mr Devandra Bernhardt play (rather underwhelming) and did a little show on the University of London radio station with the delightfully Dickensian Mr Sam Steddy.
Now I hear The Real Tuesday Weld are playing a little Christmas show as part of the Elefest at the Corsica Studios on December 2nd – It’s free apparently. See www.corsicastudios.com
They are also aiming at a summer release for their next record – hopefully to coincide with The British Film Institute’s DVD release of the Hans Richter film ‘Dreams that Money Can Buy’ containing the alternative soundtrack written and performed by the band (with the remarkable David Piper and Cibelle) for the Reality film production at the National Film theatre this year. The album features a number of VERY SPECIAL GUESTS in addition to the usual suspects I believe.
And oh yes, the recent Channel Four film ‘Loving Ludmilla’ exclusively featured music by band whilst the wonderfully wierd film ‘Zerophilia’ has a couple of tracks too (see: www.imdb.com/title/tt0421090/). Of course, there is also the new music for Alex’s barking mad film: ‘Return I will to old Brazil’ (see: www.figlimigliproductions.com).
Speaking of returning, on Tuesday, it is the funeral of one of the last of the British Beats, Simon Watson Taylor at Kensal Rise cemetery. I only met Simon a few times – and fairly recently – at meetings of The Pataphysics Society. He was 82 years old when he died and had led an extraordinary life. George Melly wrote his obituary last week in The Independent where he was described as ‘Surrealist turned anarchist, Pataphysician and hippie, Actor, Translator and ……Air Steward.’ That kind of covers the bases pretty much doesn’t it?
Now finally, I wanted to say thanks so much to another, still living, bohemian – my friend Jo Vella who has really helped me live in the Virtual World all this year. He is a real dude – a very creative, generous creature and, hey, he has his own blog too where he showcases some truly wonderful old jazz (see http://jazzonline.blogspot.com/). Apparently he wears flares, has an afro and a medallion too – what more do you want man?
love and history to you wherever you are……….