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(Message started by: Tiny_Montgomery on Today at 21:31)

Title: North Face of Soho
Post by Tiny_Montgomery on Today at 21:31
North Face of Soho - Unreliable Memoirs Volume IV, to be published by Picador in October, contains some interesting and rather bitter-sweet comments about the early James-Atkin years. Trying to pinpoint the reasons for their lack of commercial success, Clive interestingly still believes the lyrics were mixed too far forward in the RCA albums and admits he often preferred the demo tapes to the finished album tracks. But he believes the central reason for their failure to make any dent on the charts was down to to Clive James himself, explaining: "My assumption that popular music could be dragged towards literature was fundamentally wrong-headed. It was a sure-fire formula for creating unpopular music...I was killing us with every clever lyric that I wrote." And speaking as someone who never rated Live Libel, I was glad to read Clive's description of the last album before the long creative break of their partnership as "a patchy collection of spoofs and parodies...half meant as a deal-breaker and fully did the job." These and many more comments about the early James-Atkin years will make the book a must-have for all Midnight Voicers.

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Richard Bleksley on 12.08.06 at 23:27
My assumption that popular music could be dragged towards literature was fundamentally wrong-headed. It was a sure-fire formula for creating unpopular music.

I don't think Clive needs to be too hard on himself. In retrospect he may be right, but you need to look at it in the context of the times in which the idea was conceived, the late sixties and early seventies. I was student-age then (if not actually a student), just the right age to appreciate what was going on, and I remember the period with considerable affection. Music has never seemed quite so exciting since.

For this was the time before the word "progressive" acquired its connotations of derision and parody, when you could apply the word to rock music and mean it. There was a vast ferment of new ideas, an explosion of creative energy. Boundaries were being pushed back in all directions, and almost anything seemed possible. Lyric writing had not long previously undergone a revolution (usually credited to the influence of Bob Dylan, and who am I to argue?), and in that time of experimentation and innovation who was to say it couldn't be taken another step or two further? At least it must have seemed worth trying.

Yes, a lot of the ideas of those times turned out to be blind alleys, and yes, perhaps Clive's was one of them, but at least it's left a wonderful collection of songs for us to treasure, and that have enriched our lives.  

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by BogusTrumper on 14.08.06 at 13:51

on 08/12/06 at 23:27:35, Richard Bleksley wrote :
I don't think Clive needs to be too hard on himself. In retrospect he may be right, but you need to look at it in the context of the times in which the idea was conceived, the late sixties and early seventies. I was student-age then (if not actually a student), just the right age to appreciate what was going on, and I remember the period with considerable affection. Music has never seemed quite so exciting since.

For this was the time before the word "progressive" acquired its connotations of derision and parody, when you could apply the word to rock music and mean it. There was a vast ferment of new ideas, an explosion of creative energy. Boundaries were being pushed back in all directions, and almost anything seemed possible. Lyric writing had not long previously undergone a revolution (usually credited to the influence of Bob Dylan, and who am I to argue?), and in that time of experimentation and innovation who was to say it couldn't be taken another step or two further? At least it must have seemed worth trying.

Yes, a lot of the ideas of those times turned out to be blind alleys, and yes, perhaps Clive's was one of them, but at least it's left a wonderful collection of songs for us to treasure, and that have enriched our lives.  


I absolutely agree.  And on a similar note, I am often amused when the media complains about pop musicians making political statements.  I remember a glorious time when a significant proportion of the music scene was a very political statement!

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Pete Atkin on 14.08.06 at 18:31
I imagine that Clive won't be altogether chuffed when he sees that his new book been leaked.  (Such matters are nothing to do with ego, Clive's or anyone's, but with plain dealing and good faith in the publishing business.)  I know Clive holds these views about our lack of commercial success with the vinyl albums, and I  too happen to believe that Clive is wrong in his analysis, but I'll say no more than that before I have the chance to read Clive's words for myself.  I have no desire or reason to impugn Mr (or is it Ms?) "Montgomery's" literary gifts, but I've not seen many attempts at paraphrasing Clive's writing which have hit the button.

Pete

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Secret Drinker on 21.08.06 at 16:17

on 08/14/06 at 13:51:25, BogusTrumper wrote :
I absolutely agree.  And on a similar note, I am often amused when the media complains about pop musicians making political statements.  I remember a glorious time when a significant proportion of the music scene was a very political statement!


And I absolutely agree with you, BogusTrumper.

If ever there was a time with a need for "protest songs" as they were known back in the early/mid sixties, to speak out against the way things on this planet are going, it's now.

Fortunately there are a few writers - some who've been around for a while and others who are relative newcomers - who are continuing the tradition of writing songs with meaningful lyrics about things other than simply trying to get one's leg over   :o

OK, merely singing about something might not change the world as those 1960s troubadours naively believed it would, but at least by writing and singing such songs we can help draw attention to some of the problems and raise their profile a little.

Better stop there before we get into specific political issues  ;)

Cheers

Paul

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Andy Love on 21.08.06 at 20:47
Hi Chorus

M.O.M writes, surprisingly soberly :

"If ever there was a time with a need for "protest songs" as they were known back in the early/mid sixties, to speak out against the way things on this planet are going, it's now".

Quite by coincidence I've just promoted a gig which featured such a singer/songwriter: Tracey Curtis.  I'll try to remember to bring a copy of the recording oop t'North should anyone be interested enough to want to listen to it (she said I could do what I liked with it!)

A.

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Secret Drinker on 22.08.06 at 10:24

on 08/21/06 at 20:47:34, Andy Love wrote :
Hi Chorus

M.O.M writes, surprisingly soberly :

"If ever there was a time with a need for "protest songs" as they were known back in the early/mid sixties, to speak out against the way things on this planet are going, it's now".

Quite by coincidence I've just promoted a gig which featured such a singer/songwriter: Tracey Curtis.  I'll try to remember to bring a copy of the recording oop t'North should anyone be interested enough to want to listen to it (she said I could do what I liked with it!)

A.


("Surprisingly"? It was only 16:17pm!)

Definitely interested in hearing her, Andy, but don't know when there will be time to listen to it, what with all the sclonching, marionetting, eating, drinking - oh, and Pete's gig of course, nearly forgot that  ;D

Meanwhile I'll look her up on t'web. Btw, Andy - it's "oop North" not "oop t'North" - you must watch these grammatical points  :)

Cheers

Paul

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by BogusTrumper on 22.08.06 at 12:48

on 08/21/06 at 16:17:40, Secret Drinker wrote :
If ever there was a time with a need for "protest songs" as they were known back in the early/mid sixties, to speak out against the way things on this planet are going, it's now.


Paul


I have just relived my youth, and read: "1968: The Year That Rocked the World" by Mark Kurlansky

The Student Apathy Movement had not yet been invented  :D

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Richard Bleksley on 22.08.06 at 15:14
Yes. As a university professor says in Stephen Fry's The Liar (quoting from memory): "That's what I miss about students these days: no disrespect."

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Kevin Cryan on 28.09.06 at 22:10
A short audio extract from North Face of Soho can be found here (http://www.panmacmillan.com/titles/displayPage.asp?PageTitle=Individual%20Title&BookID=385045)

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by S J Birkill on 06.10.06 at 10:27
Well, a few more of us will have read it now. Clive does indeed seem to take a strange stance vis-a-vis the songs, blaming his own artistic integrity for their lack of popular success. How would he have viewed them now if at the time he'd compromised that integrity (not that he could have) and they'd failed? Their failure would then have been absolute, not just commercial. Comments, please!

SJB

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Leslie Moss on 06.10.06 at 14:12
I think Clive is being naive. The lack of commercial success of the songs probably has a lot more to do with other factors than the complexity or subject matter of the lyrics. I'd guess that it's more a combination of: Pete's "english" style of singing, the relatively basic orchestration/instrumentation, the very unpop-y arrangements and the unlucky timing as fashion moved away from singer-songwriters to prog-rock and then punk.

There was probably a window of opportunity for pop success between 1966 and 1969 when anything seemed to go and experimentation was the thing - they were just too late for that. But lyrical complexity - no I don't think so.

Leslie

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by S J Birkill on 06.10.06 at 15:04
I've wondered about the 'English' voice thing and I'm not so sure. Pete's period is contemporaneous with progressive, and bracketed by psychedelia and punk.

Post-war pop was driven from the other side of the Atlantic, and the accent became de rigeur as representing the spirit of the music, rather than the origin of its performer. So the solo British popster did the voice almost without question -- it was part of the singing style.

But by the mid-sixties experimentation was in the air. Psych groups, even some American ones, often adopted 'upper-clarss' English vowels for their vocals. The Beatles, to a northern ear, sang in recognisably Liverpudlian rather than American tones, Bowie sounded like a Londoner and Jon Anderson's vowels in those days were mid-Accrington rather than mid-Atlantic. It was only the lightest of pop and the heaviest of rock which by then seemed still to demand a feigned American accent, though many artists (E John comes to mind) chose to stick to it as if to acknowledge their influences.

Then came punk. Its perpetrators affected a 'savvan' London or Essex accent, glottal stops and all, as an emblem of their yobbish image and in revolt against 'posh' as well as American accents. And I think (though I'm not familiar with them, and maybe that's why) some of today's successful British groups still follow punk's lead in this. Certainly whenever I hear a 'yoof' radio DJ the chances are he's adopted a spiky cockney style rather than the resonant mid-Atlantic tones of the 60s' offshore DJs.

If Englishness of the vocals wasn't a barrier to pop success before, during and after Pete, why do we continue to cite it as a disadvantage (admittedly in conjunction with the other factors Leslie mentions) for him? Perhaps it's not so much the accent as the clarity and manner of the vocal delivery. Though Pete could never be as mannered as (say) Jake Thackray (but then he wasn't a popular success either). Perhaps you need to sound like a slob (Randy Newman?) to make clever lyrics work...

Steve

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Tiny_Montgomery on 06.10.06 at 17:29
Despite Pete's initial demurral, Steve's latest comments suggest my advance precis back in early August, regarding Clive's feelings about the early songwriting partnership and its relative lack of commercial success, was a fairly accurate one.

Best wishes,
TM.

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Mike Walters on 06.10.06 at 20:43
I largely agree with Leslie - though I'm not sure the English accent in itself was a barrier.  But I do think the uncategorisable nature of the songs was an issue - even down to the question of which rack they sat in the shops (rock? folk? [un]easy listening?).  It was (and is) difficult to know where to place the songs, or to think of anyone else, even in the late 60s/early 70s doing anything remotely similar (not even Randy Newman, I don't think - David Ackles, maybe...but then he was hardly a rip-roaring commercial success either...).  I've always thought the closest parallel with what they were trying to do was Sondheim, and I've wondered sometimes whether Pete might have built on 'A&R' (which I recall was critically pretty well received) with another musical.  Just think, he might have saved us from all these years of Lloyd-Webber.  (Incidentally, did I dream that Pete mentioned the possibility of a tango-based musical a year or two back...?)  

Very positive review of 'North Face of Soho' in this week's New Stateman, along with a highly amusing old picture of Clive James and Russell Davies.  The reviewer suggests that Clive's modesty about his 1970s achievements is unjustified and that his endeavours during that period were an unalloyed success, which must be a bit of a surprise to Pete...

Mike

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Andrew_Curry on 08.10.06 at 14:27
At risk of being slightly controversial, I think that Clive James' comments on the lack of commercial success need to be placed also in the context of what - with the benefit of hindsight - was clearly for him a huge hunger for critical success to be matched by the pleasures of fame and wealth.

By the late seventies/early eighties his writing had given him a critical reputation. But only someone who was driven by a desire for celebrity would ever have fronted many of the shows he fronted for LWT (the TV extracts show, with its closet racism and cultural stereotyping, so far removed from the empathic qualities in some of his writing, stands out here for me).

Indeed there's something of a paradox here: it's usually the performer who has the hunger for fame and the writer or producer who is reclusive. In his (excellent) memoir 'White Bicycles' the producer Joe Boyd even says that his ambition was to become an eminence grise.

The other issue, of course, is that commercial success in the music industry is a vastly unpredictable outcome; we all know of bands and musicians who should have been successful and weren't, and of bands and musicians whose success was unexpected and difficult to explain.

As Steve rightly says, at least the way things turned out, the work and its creators preserved their integrity. Which is probably a large part of the reason why people like us are still discussing it thirty years on.

best

Andrew  


Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by David Morgan on 13.10.06 at 01:52
Further reviews in The Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,923-2390785.html) and The FT (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/99708d28-559f-11db-acba-0000779e2340.html). Opinions evidently can differ! Sadly, neither has picked up on Clive's musical exploits.

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by David Morgan on 12.10.06 at 19:52
The review links in the post above may be short-lived, as I don't think either newspaper keeps archives online. Brief summaries: The Times (Nicholas Clee) is pretty negative, largely because Clee sees Clive as a compulsive show-off in describing his career successes, and also feels that 'his prose, once so lively, is flat. Paragraphs meander; the stylistic tricks are laboured'. Meanwhile the FT's Francesca Segal laps it up: 'lucid, effortless prose', 'rare generosity of spirit', 'Intelligent, engrossing and often hilarious, James has added yet another triumph to his long list'.

You can't please all of the people all of the time!

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by David Morgan on 18.10.06 at 17:02
Review in The Sunday Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2102-2397783,00.html) - the opinion is about midway between the two cited above. Reviewer DJ Taylor remarks on 'larky collaborations with...composer chum Pete Atkin', which I guess is an original description of our heroes' labours.

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Andrew_Curry on 20.10.06 at 22:07
The reviewer's opinion may have been midway between that of the other two reviewers, but he still had a sharp sting in the tail. The final reference to Karl Miller was meant to suggest that he thought the book over-written and under-edited.

On the larkiness front: he must have heard Live Libel, then?

Andrew

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Kevin Cryan on 22.10.06 at 17:34
To a page wholly devoted to reviewing books by the two "Wizards of Oz" - Robert Hughes (Things I Didn't Know) and Clive - Tim Adams has contributed a very perceptive 4000 word piece on North Face of Soho which is published in today’s edition of Observer Review (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1928240,00.html).

He winds it up by saying:


Quote:
Clive James, as the New Yorker once had it, is a great bunch of guys;North Face of Soho introduces us to yet another Clive,while you guess that the man himself slips slightly further from view.


That fairly accurately sums up how I felt when I put the book down.



Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Kevin Cryan on 22.10.06 at 18:12
Writing about North Face of Soho in today’s edition of the Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2006/10/15/bojam207.xml&sSheet=/arts/2006/10/15/bomain.html), Selina Hastings says:


Quote:
One of the most rewarding aspects of this exuberant work is the writer's willingness to reveal the backstage mechanics of his professional life. Not only are we given the glamorous lunches with fashionable literati such as Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Martin Amis, but James shows, as it were, the engine-room in action. He takes the trouble to analyse exactly what it requires to be a television critic or write a book review, explains the necessity of precisely measuring the syllables in a line of poetry. With a shift of gear we witness the distressing experience of sharing a green room with the Sex Pistols ('the little shits were genuine, you could say that for them'). And he shows us, too, how not to conduct an interview, quoting his first experience, on television with the lyricist Johnny Mercer, which was such a disaster it had to be scrapped. 'I made the beginner's classic mistake', says James, 'of including the answer in the question. This left my puzzled guest with little to say beyond "yes" and "no".


Those parts of the book which tells us about Clive's learning how to get things done certainly had me riveted.    


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Keith Busby on 22.10.06 at 18:28
There's a review of North Face in yesterday's (i.e., Saturday's) Irish Times which mentions that the Atkin-James albums have recently been the object of "a miniature revival".  :o

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/weekend/2006/1021/1160606840617.html

You may need to register.

Greetings from Sunset Blvd., LA, a few yards from where O. J. Simpson didn't murder Nicole.

Keith

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by S J Birkill on 06.11.06 at 15:14
Here's a weird one:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14934-2430217.html

'So nothing, then, along the lines of: "Here I am in the heart of medialand. What's this? The Observer wants me to write genre-busting TV criticism. Crikey, now I'm a mover and shaker in TV itself, and blow me down but after hearing my poetry the talented but under-appreciated singer Pete Atkins only wants me to collaborate on a series of brilliant but under-appreciated 1970s albums. Is that the Sex Pistols in the next studio?" '

SJB

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Ian Chippett on 06.11.06 at 15:26
The music for the Clive BBC radio programme about his memoirs was apparently composed by the same Pete Atkins. Perhaps there really is one?

Ian Chipett/Chippet/ Chipet/Chippette/Chippett (I know how Pete feels...)

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Secret Drinker on 07.11.06 at 12:10

on 11/06/06 at 15:26:26, Ian Chippett wrote :
The music for the Clive BBC radio programme about his memoirs was apparently composed by the same Pete Atkins. Perhaps there really is one?

Ian Chipett/Chippet/ Chipet/Chippette/Chippett (I know how Pete feels...)


Chippette? Don't they sell those in McDonald's? They bissn't proper chips, I know that ;D

Chipet? I suppose the French would pronounce it Sheep-Hay or summat like that  :D

Well, I've had my own share or problems in the mistaken identity department. I regularly get filed under 'C'  >:(

(Oops! Sorry for getting off topic - I still haven't got the book, I'm waiting to see if anyone buys it for me for Christmas  ;) )

Cheers

Paul

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Cary on 07.11.06 at 20:57
Not forgetting Chipset - doesn't Steve have something to do with them?? ;D

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Kevin Cryan on 18.11.06 at 19:54
Christopher Hitchens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens) has contributed an interesting piece on Clive's North Face of Soho to this week's Times Literary Supplement (http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25336-2454503,00.html)

I presume that it's been made available on-line because Hitchens wrote it for free and did not insist on copyright, but that does not mean it will be available in perpituity. So, if you are interested, download it while you can.

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Keith Busby on 19.11.06 at 02:22
Kevin, when you say "interesting", do you mean "pretentious and impenetrable"?  ;)

Best,

Keith

PS: just bumped into Joni Mitchell in the grocery store. I kid you not. Honest. Ralph's on Wilshire and Bundy.

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Kevin Cryan on 19.11.06 at 22:16
Keith,

No, I was not kidding, being ironic or even cynical.  I really did mean interesting.

Hitchens is someone with whom I don’t always agree,  but there is a good deal to to what he has to say in this essay of his. He  reminds us at the very beginning of his piece that Clive, in North Face of Soho, admits not once, but twice, to Peter De Vries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_De_Vries)’s ambition of having a “mass audience large enough for his elite audience to despise”


Quote:
James’s strenuous test of the De Vriesian proposition was to try to demonstrate that one could be simultaneously cerebral and on television……with the implied wager that no diminution of standards would be required.


This, it seems to me, gets us the very heart of the problem Clive was creating for himself. In the same way as the thought he could be “cerebral and on television” he also thought that he could be cerebral and be in pop music business.  There were many wise heads to warn him – and Hitchens was no doubt one of them – of the dangers of this line of thinking.  They believed that Clive should have known better, and were pretty vociferous about it.

However, there were also a great many people around – people, like myself, who had eagerly devoured almost everything Clive wrote - who believed that  being cerebral and producing popular cultural artefacts, such as television programmes and pop songs, need not be separate activities. If anybody could bridge the gap, Clive could, or so we hoped. The appearance of the first James/Atkin albums, and Clive’s contributions to  TV shows such as So it Goes and New Faces, together with the essays he’d written for various music magazines, suggested that he knew enough about pop and popular culture to be able to bring to television and popular song-writing the touches of class they conspicuously lacked.

Peter Porter, reviewing Other Passports: Poems 1958- 1985 in January 1987 for the London Review of Books, wrote:


Quote:
Literary critics have not taken kindly to the several albums of songs he wrote with Pete Atkin, and I don’t feel able to access them myself. But this indifference has been largely an averting of eyes from what we understand only partly and turning our gaze to the many other departments of art James excels in.  One critic, reviewing a James/Atkin album excoriated James for thinking that neat movement quatrains could possibly be appropriate to the kind of music Atkin writes. He might have done better to recognise that James’s craftsmanship is positively evangelical in the field of Pop. Let it be better made, as the lyrics were in the days of Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart and Ira Gershwin, is his belief.


That Clive was trying to get things “better made” at a time when in Pop, with a few outstanding exceptions, the poorly made was getting more airtime than it deserved probably had a lot to do with the lack of success.  I think you can hear the penny dropping with Clive – as it dropped with me - when, on the 9th of October 1977, he included in his Observer TV column a comment about a recent Cliff Richard appearance on television:


Quote:
A guest on Parkinson (BBC1), Cliff Richard sang a song of his own composition. ‘There is nothing between we two’ he warbled thinly. Us were in luck.

Writing, Cliff told his host, was important to him. ‘Why hasn’t that special woman entered your life?’ asked a puzzled Parky. Cliff said, as he has been saying for the past twelve years, that there is no point in getting married for the sake of it. His argument gained force from the consideration that a decade or so of celibacy can do wonders for your creative powers. Vital, ageless and now an important writer, Cliff is a shining example to all of we.


What was the craftsman trying to make it better  to do when the popular singer, who’d  by then had two decades of success in the recording industry behind him, could not even recognise that a line – his own - was not written in proper English? The time for trying to make it better, Clive must have had to concede, had not come – at least not in England.  

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Mike Walters on 19.11.06 at 22:56
Presumably all the more irritating since Clive had already written this line in a grammatically perfect form...?

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Kevin Cryan on 20.11.06 at 00:05
You know, Mike, that had not occurred to me. But, yes, it's probably true.


Kevin

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Keith Busby on 20.11.06 at 00:40
Hmm. I may have fallen into a trap I warn my students against, i.e., not to associate a person's writings with his personality. I was at Oxford at the same time as Hitchens and he was not, shall we say, universally loved. I have not followed his career, but was shocked to see him interviewed by Charlie Rose on American public television not all that long ago and to learn that he was "slightly" in favour of Bush and supported certain American neo-conservatives, such as Paul Wolfowitz. Now, while many of us have become disillusioned with the left, such a U-turn is inexplicable to me. I'll forego further political comment . . . The other reasons for my negative response to his essay are that he appears to do a lot of name-dropping (of which Clive has been accused, of course), and that he ends up talking about himself as much as the book he is reviewing. When this happens in my racket, it is frowned upon, but I suppose Hitchens is not an academic and the context is quite different.

Keith

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Jan on 21.11.06 at 21:28
As far as I remember no one else has mentioned going to see Clive on his current tour.
I saw him last night at Keswick. Dreadful weather, wind, pouring rain and an absolutely packed house. Fortuitously there were a couple of late arrivals whose seats had been taken - in the front row!! It was a gift to Clive who got off to a great start organising the seating.
I hadn't seen him do a performance like this where he read very little from his works, I don't think he read more than one passage from the book and there were no poems. He offered observations and anecdotes on a range of topics: clothes, smoking, addiction, the Lake Poets, Australia and so on displaying his considerable skills as a raconteur. It was a good evening.

Jan

Title: Re: North Face of Soho
Post by Secret Drinker on 15.01.07 at 09:28
My patience and optimism were rewarded - my heavy hints were acted upon and I received a copy for Christmas. As usual, it was "unputdownable" and I read it in next to no time (being in the wet and windy Lake District over New Year helped in that respect!)

I sincerely hope Clive isn't going to wait another 30 years before we get the next instalment?!

Cheers

Paul



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