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This article is taken from PN Review 14, Volume 6 Number 6, July - August 1980.

Martin Green

That artistic melting pot that was Soho is alas no more. It was possible in my early forays while in the Army to find on one evening's visit the poets David Gascoyne, George Barker, W.S. Graham, John Heath-Stubbs, David Wright and Dylan Thomas (though not necessarily in company) and Paul Potts, pointed out to me by George, when I first saw him, as England's "greatest living prose writer"; the painters Robert Colquhoun and MacBryde, John Minton, Gerald Wilde and others. There was, even in those days, a residual artistic colony in Fitzrovia, supported by Julian Maclaren-Ross to the bitter end, which met in the Fitzroy Tavern, the Black Horse and the Duke of York; throwing-out time north of Oxford Street at that time was 10.30 pm, and Fitzrovian customers were driven south to take advantage of the extra half-hour in Soho.

It was possible to call in on all the likely meeting places in Soho within half-an-hour, having a drink in each to see who was around. There was the French pub, Aux Caves de France (which opened throughout the afternoon) the Swiss Hotel in Old Compton Street and the Duke of Wellington in Wardour Street, and after closing time the descent to the Mandrake or the ascent to the Colony (though this was more expensive and difficult of access, requiring a bona fide member in the party).

When I look back on those Saturday nights, on leave from the Army during the early Fifties, ...


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