An Exile in Soho

An Exile in Soho

An Exile in Soho

An Exile in Soho

Excerpt

ON THIS Derby Day of 1926 a fine rain was falling on London.

The lunch hour was over, and people living under the shadow of St. Giles's could hear the newsboys shouting: 'Derby winner!' as they ran across Charing Cross Road from the direction of the Palace Theatre.

Because Stacey Street narrowed into an alley London's traffic neglected it, leaving it to do what it pleased. On this particular afternoon it had a light-hearted air. The alley, then called Little Denmark Lane, curling round the churchyard, was full of people waiting for the bookmaker and his assistant, who would soon arrive at their usual stand under a porch where the alley and street merged at right angles. The crowd seemed eager spectators of a play.

Stacey Street, though cut off from Soho by Charing Cross Road, had a foreign look. Thus had been the purlieus of St. Giles's church since Tudor times. Also, of course, there were the Irish. The houses were low with Greek architraves over the doors, and the façades were white and grey stone.

Mme Bessi, whose husband wore a wide black hat and sang Neapolitan songs, opened the front door of No. 14 and put her head out, but because of the rain she slowly withdrew her head and slammed the door behind her.

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