All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015

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 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

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: Of course, there is also the new music for Alex's barking mad film: 'Return I will to old Brazil' (see:

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 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..........



Alex de Campi said...

Every pub needs the proper equilibrium between Strange Old Men, brickies, and attractive bohemians... Too many of one or the other and it all goes pear. Although, if anything, too many strange old men is best.

Yeah, Devendra was deeply average. I recommended that gig to a bunch of friends and now feel somewhat contrite. Still, Akron/Family (openers) were madly sublime and that somewhat made up for it. Plus, Decemberists the night after, and they were aces.

Pataphysics Club? Damn, I am torn between being thrilled that there are other Alfred Jarry nerds out there, and annoyed that I didn't know about this already.

clerkenwell kid said...

you are so right alex - and the coach has that mix. i felt rather odd about devandra - he is a friend of a good friend of mine so i really wanted to like it - maybe in a more intimate setting? - the astoria is so.....ugly. i thought the dirty three were rather powerful tho..

the pataphysics society is a rather odd institution. they have a museum in highgate - by appointment only - but full of wonderfully strange things - so very mush worth a visit......

marie said...

Pataphysics.. when I went to the London Society website it seemed jokey to me altho the French side of things seems more serious. Is it a serious movement ?

clerkenwell kid said...

well, they are quite silly - in the way that many surrealists were silly - undermining convention and mixing ridiculousness with seriousness.

but Pataphysics and Jary were French non? and i think they were comical - or nonsensensical - from the start. check out the museum if you ever have chance - it's a wonderul combination of the ludicrousness and gravitas.

michelle said...

I've been wanting to see Dreams That Money Can Buy for a long time but can't seem to find it. Hopefully a US DVD will follow along with those great extras! I would love to see the musical performance to the film. Did you check out Lambchop's performance to Murnau's Sunrise when they were in London? I heard great things but they only played in Europe.

sam fenn said...

this might sound like a totally vacuous comment probably because it is, but, the world being the size it is, I actually know Sam Steady from my school days.