In the 1980s Daniel Farson published Soho in the Fifties. This memoir is a sequel from the Eighties, a decade that saw the brilliant flowering of a daily tragi-comedy enacted in pubs like the Coach and Horses or the French and in drinking clubs like the Colony Room. These were places of constant conversation and regular rows fuelled by alcohol.
The cast was more improbable than any soap opera. Some were widely known - Jeffrey Bernard, Francis Bacon, Tom Baker or John Hurt. Just as important were the character actors: the Village Postmistress, the Red Baron, Granny Smith.
The bite came from the underlying tragedy: lost spouses, lost jobs, pennilessness, homelessness and death. Christopher Howse recaptures the lost Soho he once knew as home, its cellar cafes and butchers' shops, its villains and its generosity. While it lasted, time in those smoky rooms always seemed to be half past ten, not long to closing time.
As the author relates, he never laughed so much as he did in Soho in the Eighties.