Cissy’s Christmas present to us was scanning all the family photos, so she has about half a dozen of the albums at her place. We were there yesterday afternoon for tea and McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits! – a wonderful treat – and shuffled through some of the photos.
Stefan came home inspired to make this
I love it, even if it did make me cry just a bit. We loved living in Soho – Berwick Street market still had four or five delicatessens who made their own pickles and olives in big barrels, and at Fratelli Camisa they would feed the children little scraps of smoked salmon and freshly sliced paper-thin prosciuttio from a huge spinning, singing blade, dropping it into their mouths like baby birds. We had a favorite butcher and fishmonger and of course the iconic market, where I was such a good customer I never had to carry anything home, they would send it over with a lad. Our dog Clancy was a big hit with the ‘girls’, who were always rushing from one strip club to another to give the impression of a cornucopia of flesh. When I was feeling lazy I would sometimes take the children to Pizza Pizza on Soho Square for their tea- pizza was a new concept then! – and the waiters would give me a glass of wine in a coffee cup to get around the licensing laws.
St James’ Park was closest, and I would take children and dog through Golden Square and Piccadilly Circus down Haymarket to the park to see the pelicans and, if we were very lucky, the famous birdman, a civil servant who had only to appear to have all sorts of birds sit on his shoulders, head and hands. Other times we would go to Regent’s Park (we moved there when we left Soho, couldn’t bear to go too far) to the zoo, or the open air Shakespeare where Will climbed a railing in a fit of exuberance and missed the whole performance because he had to get stitches.
The local toyshop was Hamleys, and I had those kids so bamboozled it was years before they worked out it wasn’t some kind of museum, and they could have bought stuff there. Museums were easy too, and art galleries, all on our doorstep.
Clancy was stolen from our doorstep one night – I was sitting in reception and heard him yip in surprise but thought nothing of it – we had a party that night, and a lot of people going in and out. Ten minutes later I went to call him, but he was gone. I have always wondered if someone thought he was lost, not just outside his own home in an unlikely place.
There were great advantages to living ‘over the shop’ no commute for one thing, and sensitive meetings and lunches could be held in utter privacy. It meant that I could stay in touch with the business while the children were at kinder in Covent Garden, just across Long Acre.
The silly thing? I had no idea how trendy we were back then.