London Calling: a review by Arifa Akbar


Friday 28 January 2011

It is apt for a feted London bohemian (who has written extensively on the Beatniks, music and the 1960s) to turn his sights to London’s post-war bohemia from which he arose as co-owner of the Indica Gallery (a famed haunt for the 1960’s avant garde).

Yet Miles’s countercultural history is only in part a personal cartography of the city. Its focus expands far beyond to cultural revolutionaries, big and small, from Nina Hamnett (Fitrovia’s “queen of Bohemia” in the ’40s) to Francis Bacon, Boy George and Damien Hirst, along with key meeting places – the French Pub, the Colony Room and the Gargoyle Club.

An illuminating story of the city, it’s conclusion is bleak: Thatcher, and globalisation, all but killed off London’s underground.