John Broadley's London
To celebrate the release of his latest screen print 'Soho', John Broadley talks about his favourite London haunts...
New Piccadilly Cafe - Situated behind Piccadilly Circus station - its interior decor remained in the 1950s, until its closure sometime in the 2010s, with the waiters still in all white uniforms right until the end; specials paper-clipped to the menus in laminated pieces of pastel-coloured card. My favourite meal was escallop with spaghetti in tomato sauce & chips.
Ray’s Jazz Shop - One of the first places I went when I arrived in London. John Coltrane’s ‘My Favourite Things' was on my Walkman a lot while treading the pavements and I went to get a copy on vinyl. I ended up buying the only Coltrane record they had there which I could afford, ‘Expression’, which was a bit too difficult for me at the time. Rays moved into Foyles at some point this century and was, initially, still like a separate unit within the main bookshop, but nowadays is more or less a couple of shelves with just the name on the wall.
The Vintage Magazine Company - Now closed but still trading online, this was a big red shop on Brewer Street with the ground floor trading in tourist tat like Marilyn Monroe fridge magnets and James Dean posters, but downstairs it was like a museum. Everything was expensive and sealed in plastic bags. One day I went in and there were dozens of blank video cassettes each with type-written labels, all containing material recorded from the television by some film buff. Each cassette had an index card inserted with the review of the film cut out of the TV or Radio Times. I think they were a fiver each and I bought loads; stuff like Edgar Kennedy and Leon Errol shorts, classic black and white films that used to be shown in the afternoons. A bonus was that the ITV recordings had the old adverts still included.
Record and Tape Exchange - There are lots of record shops which have disappeared from Berwick St over the years. Luckily, Reckless Records, Sounds of the Universe and Sister Ray survive. Record and Tape still have a branch in Notting Hill. I think it might be called Music & Video Exchange. There used to be many branches situated around London. At one time, there was a row of them in Notting Hill, divided into musical genres. The principle of the shop is a sticker on the record and a price which goes down the longer it takes for the item to sell, usually £1 a time would be knocked off - a succession of different coloured biro numbers until it ended up in the bargain bin for a quid.
Rough Trade - Rough Trade in Covent Garden was located downstairs from a skate shop off Neal Street. When Rough Trade East opened, this branch was closed, which was a real shame. The entrance was down a spiral staircase and everything was crammed in. I was buying bootleg vinyl records in the early 2000s and you could only buy them from a few shops, plus when you went to the counter, you’d invariably get handed something you hadn’t heard of which I’d usually just buy on spec of it being recommended to me.
Coach & Horses Greek St. - Along with The French House, the C&H is one of those pubs which have the reputation of attracting London's most dedicated imbibers. The walls are filled with framed drawings by Michael Heath from his comic strip ‘The Regulars’ which feature characters from the pub, including the self-styled ‘London’s Rudest Landlord’, Norman Balon. Also included is Jeffrey Bernard, the Spectator writer who would arrive at opening time each day before heading over to one of Soho’s private clubs when serving was paused at 3 pm. The play ‘Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell’, penned by Keith Waterhouse, takes place entirely within the pub.