Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Is Soho losing its character?

Soho is 'losing its character' says chef Aldo Zilli.

What do you think?

Originally inspired by my experience of the August riots last year.

In the midst of hearing about the fracas kicking off around London and the rest of the country, I observed this community’s camaraderie as I rushed up the road to charge my phone at The Pix Bar (We also had a powercut in Soho, the second one that week).

I heard the story of several hooded youths getting baseball bats out of the boot of their car on Dean Street, but they were scared off by some locals.  You felt quite protected here, cordoned off by The Four Highways (Oxford St, Charing Cross Rd, Regent St and Shaftesbury Avenue).  

After the phone had enough power to check the riots spreading in Google Maps, I couldn’t help but notice how we were all safe here in Soho as one more location after another popped up with a little ‘Riot’ symbol on the web.

Whilst interviewing Trisha Bergonzi of The New Evaristo Club for my book ‘ Soho Heroes ’, I couldn’t help but cling on to something she said: “Soho gets a bad reputation sometimes, but the troubles here are never home grown”. Every establishment in Soho is a theatre of sorts.  

Michelle Wade puts on one show at Maison Bertaux , the staff at Bar Italia put on another.  It’s the same with every single place in the area, tailors, restaurateurs, pub landlords (and ladies), barbers, optical designers, silversmiths and even some beggars, they all raise the curtain at the start of the day before final encores at closing.

Manners On The Manor is about giving respect to those people (or performers), and giving those sometime hecklers who visit Soho a friendly reminder to enjoy themselves, but behave . Debauched Soho is necessary as well to a certain degree, and that also must be protected, but as the song says, there’s no excuse for lack of etiquette.


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