29 August 2018, The Tablet

God may be discerned amid life’s hard knocks, which in Soho could be extremely hard

Christopher Howse's Notebook


THREE SMELLS remind me of Oliver Bernard: the strong tobacco he would tamp into his curved pipe; the aniseed of Ricard, his preferred drink; the woodsmoke from the fire at his one-room cottage in Norfolk.

He was the eldest brother of Jeffrey Bernard, the Spectator’s Low Life columnist. “Don’t mess with those Bernard brothers,” I had been strongly advised by the drunkest man in the Coach and Horses, Soho. But I did, with all three – Jeffrey, Bruce and Oliver – and I recount the consequences in a book published next week, Soho in the Eighties.

Soho’s image is drunken and sleazy, but my memoir is, if read aright, a moral tale.

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