Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sohemian Society

I'm grateful to the Sohemian Society (http://www.sohemians.com/) for putting on a talk about our mysterious Roland Camberton/Henry Cohen last night for several reasons. The first reason was to finally meet Iain Sinclair who wrote the introduction to this edition, who was the speaker. Iain looks remarkably like the man on the cover of Scamp, though presciently painted by John Minton some decades ago. His talk was of great interest, particularly in referring to the cover of Rain on the Pavements where, in the original you can see a group of political demonstrators heading down towards the source of local power, the Hackney Town Hall, but during the recent riots the rioters went up that road to the phone and sports good shops. How times change. Iain also talked about the connections between, the drift from, the East End to Soho by working class Jews leaving their origins in search of something more exciting, citing Bernard Kops in The World is a Wedding and Camberton, who, unusually, returned home to Hackney for his second book. Camberton only published two books but there is evidence of a third completed novel which vanished, as did the author himself.

The second reason is that the Sohemians meet in the Wheatsheaf pub on Rathbone Place, the "Corney Arms" of Scamp where "Angus Sternforth Simms" (in reality the writer Julian MacLaren Ross) held forth and "Panjitawarelam" (in reality the poet and publisher Tambimuttu) looked mystical. Both characters from Scamp were wonderfully brought to life by the actor Terence Frisch, who gave a reading from the book. The Sohemians have a very good lecture programme, and I was keen to meet their organiser David Fogarty and the others. There are further Five Leaves/New London Editions events planned there.

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