Coach to Brighton
Cambridge Circus I take my life in my hands. This city is now being terrorised by mechanised louts. They come at you on their motorbikes on the wrong side of the road and even on the pavement. The cyclists are as bad too. Are the police asleep? I want their protection and the only time I get that is when I am locked up In a cell for having taken a few piddling bets in the pub. I ask myself is it time to have another try at living in the boring Country? There must be a village some- where in England with a good food shop and a pub that is not packed solid with retired colonels, gamekeepers and horsy women. If you know of one please tell me. Apart from the motorbike menace I have noticed that more and more London pigeons — my brother calls them flying rats — are diseased. We are surrounded by dangers, either violent or just plain dirty. It is even spreading to this little study of mine. There was HP sauce on the typewri- ter this morning and I didn't even know I had any. The only decent new thing that has come about in Soho is the accommoda- tion the Groucho Club have installed. I believe they now have eight bedrooms on the top floor, which must have cost a fortune to build. Anyway, they invited me as their guest to try one out last week and it was excellent. I only wish I had a 'compan- ion' with me as restaurant writers always do.
If I could afford it I wouldn't mind throwing my possessions to the winds and moving in there for keeps. A lovely bed, a good bathroom, a telephone, a fridge well stocked and a television strictly for the news and cricketing disasters which we promote so brilliantly. And I have yet to see a motorbike in the club. Yes, I am getting frightened to go out in the morning. About three months ago I saw a man get knocked down in Old Compton Street. He was stretched out on the pavement and I think he was dead. The police coped and I walked on feeling a little sick. Poor sod.
Talking of feeling sick, Keith Water- house's title for the play, Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, must be the understatement of the year. The producer sent me some copies of
the playbill this week and I think they look very good. Peter O'Toole is photographed sitting on a barstool and he is surrounded by some funny cartoons of pub life drawn by our own Heath. And now some of the denizens of the Coach and Horses are threatening to come to the first night of the pre-West End run at Brighton next month. I hope to God that they behave. I will. I shall go to bed for the afternoon after lunch, take afternoon tea and then a stroll along the beach to take in some oxygen. It really is awful that such an event as this has to be planned. About four years ago I had to go into training for a Royal Academy dinner — road work around Soho Square — and even then I didn't last until the pudding.
But it is going to be one hell of a thrash because coincidentally there is racing at Brighton the following afternoon and I shall stay for that after lunch. Brighton race-track is a bit of a dump but it can be fun, especially if you know the bar staff. And there's another coincidence. There used to be a wonderful barmaid who ran the members' bar at whatever the main meeting was that day and I haven't seen her for years. Last week she came into the Coach to look me up and where is she working now? Behind the front-of-house bar at the Apollo Theatre. We might just have the one on that first night.