Magazine article The Spectator

Lost Soho Afternoons

Magazine article The Spectator

Lost Soho Afternoons

Article excerpt

The Colony Room Club, 1948-2008: A History of Bohemian Soho by Sophie Parkin Palmtree Publishers, £35, pp. 264 (limited edition available at www. thecolonyroom. com) ISBN 9780957435407

'And what do you do?' asked Francis Bacon. 'Er, I'm a cartoonist.' 'You are a chronicler of our age, yours is the art that counts, yours is art made history, I salute you!' Bacon then stumbled off, shouting, 'Who was that cunt?'

That was the Colony Room. Dangerous! Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night, reading Sophie Parkin's history.

I'd been taken to the club in the late 1950s by Jeffrey Bernard. I'd teamed up with him, eager to join his long downhill struggle, and he liked having around him people who were happy to self-destruct. I'd introduced him to Richard Ingrams, who had nervously taken him on as racing correspondent of Private Eye, dubbing him 'Colonel Mad'.

The club, up a winding staircase, consisted of one room painted dark green, with the curtains drawn. To be a member, you had to be approved by Muriel Belcher.

If she thought you could buy a round she called you 'Cunty' and you were allowed in. …

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