Soho Stories • Clayton Littlewood
Those lovely Polari boys have asked me if I would like to write a column for their online magazine.
‘We can be fairly flexible,’ they said, which I took to mean, there’d be no deadlines, no pressure on subject matter and no spotty teenage sub-editors hacking away at my prose.
‘Great!’ I said. ‘I’ll knock something out at the weekend.’
What I didn’t tell them was that my last column ended in tears. I was employed by The London Paper and the column was entitled ‘Soho Stories’. Oh what a heartless bunch they were. I’d send them 400 words and then on Monday morning, an hour before they went to print, I’d receive a three word email.
‘‘Too much dialogue!’
So I’d strip it all out and re-send it.
‘Too much description!’
So I’d remove the descriptive pieces.
‘Too rude about lesbians!’
And so it went on and on until, with minutes to spare, the piece that was left was so devoid of style and substance it wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Readers Digest letters section. Of course I wasn’t going to argue. I needed their grubby cash to pay my bills. Plus, I hate confrontations. I avoid them at all costs. This stems from an argument I once had with Maria Clutterbuck in 1976 when she accused me of stealing her David Cassidy pencil case.
Anyway, one Thursday I sent in my Soho column as normal and I didn’t get a response. What was going on? Had I finally written something that they liked? Alas, no. I’d been dumped! Except no one bothered to tell me. It finally dawned on me when, a month later, my weekly column still hadn’t appeared. Not that I cared. The worry I went through every Monday just wasn’t worth it. When I’m stressed I tend to put my hand in my pocket and pinch my right testicle. So by Monday afternoons it was the size of a honeydew melon. So no, I wasn’t worried about losing the column. But how was I going to pay the gas bill?
Anyway, writing this one will be very different. There’ll be no deadlines, no pressure (and no pay). So everyone should be happy. But what am I going to write about? When I spoke to Christopher at Polari I said, ‘I was thinking I’d sit by the window in a Soho coffee shop every week and just ramble on about whatever comes into my head.’
‘That works for me!’ he replied sweetly, like a 19 year old looking down at Iris Robinson’s naked body as she waves a cheque for fifty grand.
So this is my introductory column. A five minute ramble about nothing. I do hope it lasts. My testicle could sure do with a rest.
See you next week,