EXCLUSIVE Stephen Jones cards – now available at The Shop

Now available: A collection of exclusive greeting cards using archive illustrations from Stephen Jones, raising money for HIV i-Base, a London based advocacy and HIV information charity.

Featuring Macao Mercury from Miss World collection spring/summer ’94, Mirabelle from Legasty collection spring/summer ’95, Bloom from The Devil is a Woman collection spring/summer ’92, Musical from Norma Desmond Lives! collection autumn/winter ’92 and Soirée Scarabée from Xanadu collection autumn/winter ’93. Back of card includes Stephen Jones Millinery logo, design annotation, charity logo and text One of five greetings cards with archive illustrations from the Stephen Jones collections. Raising funds for i-Base. A London based HIV information service

The cards will be for sale from April 30th, 2012 at http://www.ibase-editions.co.uk for a donation of £10.00. In central London, the cards will be available at The Society Club (12 Ingestre Place, Soho W1F0JF).

HIV i-Base is a treatment activist group committed to providing timely HIV treatment information to HIV-positive people and to health care professionals. Working in the UK and internationally our central aim is quality of care and access to health for all people with HIV. Founded in 2000, we advocate for better and more affordable treatment We work to ensure that people living with HIV are well informed and actively engaged in their own treatment and medical care. We also work to ensure that people living with HIV are included in policy discussions about HIV treatment recommendations and access. Find out more at: http://i-base.info/home/


The London Bookshop Map

The new edition of The London Bookshop Map is available now online and at our Shop.  Stop by to pick-up your copy, it’s a wonderful reference to 96 independent bookshops in London.


96 independent bookshops

Independent bookshops fill the gaps in the high street, stocking thoughtful and idiosyncratic selections rather than market-driven choices of books. They sustain local interests and offer different ways for communities to participate in a range of cultural activities. They are crucial platforms for alternative publishing.


Chip Martin, author of A Journeyman in Bohemia, reading this Tuesday

Join us for a reading with Chip Martin, author of ‘A Journeyman In Bohemia’ Tuesday May 1st 6.30pm

Chip Martin is the author of a sequence of novellas transiting across spaces of Europe and America in the last third of the 20th century. Characters develop, disappear, reappear and find their destinies in different guises. His trilogy A School of London came out as a single volume last year.

A Journeyman in Bohemia, the first part of it, tells the tale of an artist who drops out of middle-class English life to learn his craft in a contemporary version of the grand tour, winning and losing three remarkable women en route. Of this book, Beryl Bainbridge wrote, ‘It is wonderful and precise and I fully believed in it. Also the structure is so good. It reminded me of a fantastic chap, a German or Swede – I’ll find his name sometime – who wrote in the ’30s about a journey. It didn’t really matter where he was going, just that his voice of that of the main character, was so bloody authoritative. You know how you read a novel and trip over things and have to go back? – Well, I never did once. I mean the narrative voice carried me on.’

Chip will read from A Journeyman in Bohemia and discuss its place in the larger trilogy. He will also comment on the history of ‘bohemia’ as an idea, about which he was written under his other identity, Stoddard Martin, as which he has for many years been a critic and lecturer.

Journeyman cover

Simon Van Booy, this Wednesday

The Society Club is honoured to host one of our favourite writers, Simon Van Booy, as he reads from his work on Wednesday, April 25th beginning at 6:30pm.
Van Booy won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2009 for his collection Love Begins in Winter. The Frank O’Connor award is one of the most prestigious awards given to story collections and previous winners have included Edna O’Brien and Haruki Murakami. The prize committee commented that ‘from the opening line he grabs the reader’s attention and maintains focus. His language is lyrical and sings off the page. His stories are full of the most exquisite insights, aphoristic without ever seeming like mere conveyances for ideas.’

Last year, Van Booy published his first novel, Everything Beautiful Began After to great acclaim. Andre Dubus III said “If F. Scott Fitzgerald and Marguerite Duras had had a son, he would be Simon Van Booy; this is a truly special writer who does things with abstract language that is so evocative and original your breath literally catches in your chest. This is a novel you simply must read.” The San Francisco Examiner wrote that ‘“Van Booy’s writing rings with the proverbial pithiness of Oscar Wilde, the elegance of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the clarity of Graham Greene and the wit of Evelyn Waugh, conjuring a strong voice full of poetic, timeless grace of which much of the contemporary literary scene is starved.” And Daily Candy noted that the ‘…exquisite prose and heartbreaking (but never hopeless) emotional honesty make it a worthy read.”

Trust us, this is an evening you won’t want to miss. Simon is a superb reader and his story collection Love Begins in Winter along with his novel Everything Beautiful Began After have been shop bestsellers from the very first day we opened our doors.

Limited tickets available in advance and at the door, £5
Wednesday, April 25th at 6:30pm

Books will be available on the night for purchase and signing

Remember, cash and cheque only

Simon Van Booy / Photo by Rowland Harris

Laura Ashley and Us.

Our new friends over at the Laura Ashley blog popped-in for a visit.  It was nice showing her all our favourite books and assorted dogs.  Even though they were totally lazy and napped the whole time.   Except for Fred, who clearly needed to go ‘outside’ for a few moments.

Read their post about the visit here.



Chrissie Hynde, Soho 1990.

Chrissie Hynde, Soho, 1990. © Derek Ridgers.

In the late ’70s I was working in an ad agency that was slap bang in the middle of Soho and through the first floor windows of said agency, we had a front seat view of the rich pageant of Soho life only a few feet below.

The agency was only about 50 yards away from the passage next to Raymond’s Review Bar and we were able to observe the prostitutes, armed policemen, con men, clip girls, drunks, junkies, glue sniffers and all manner of street people. These types were very thick on the ground in the Soho of the ’70s.

One got very used to seeing some of them. There was one guy I used to see a lot.  A dyed-black haired, lanky twerp, normally dressed from head to toe in leather, who obviously thought of himself as some sort of covert rock star. He also wore eye-liner. He always looked totally messed up, emaciated and completely out of it.

It was not always an appealing sight. I remember being particularly appalled by seeing the lanky twerp walking through Soho market with his scrotum hanging out of a hole in his trousers. He seemed totally oblivious to this.

Working right in the middle of Soho did have it’s advantages though. My office was a 45 second jog away from the best second hand record shop in the country – Cheapo Cheapo – and every Wednesday morning, at about 11.00 o’clock, the new review copies would arrive and be put straight out into the racks.

I was, by this time a voracious reader of both Sounds and NME and my heroes were Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Kent and Danny Baker.  I pretty much bought everything they gave a decent review too.

So, every Wednesday at exactly 10.55, I’d make an excuse at work and run down to Cheapo Cheapo to buy, at about half the RRP, some of the records that had been favourably reviewed in the previous weeks rock papers.  I didn’t realise it at the time but there was every likelihood these were exactly the same copies that had been so reviewed.

I’d often see the lanky twerp hanging about Cheapo Cheapo at about the same time as me and I assumed he’d worked out what time the review copies arrived too. I always tried to make sure I got to the best records before he did and, for some strange reason, I always seemed to.

I’d been doing this for a few years during the late ‘70s.  Until eventually I got the sack from the agency, became a photographer and I met the NME writer Cynthia Rose.  Through her, I got a crack at working for NME myself.

One day when we were both hanging about Virgin Records, in Oxford Street, she introduced me to my hero, the writer Nick Kent.  And I recognised him as the lanky twerp. The very same lanky twerp that I’d seen rather too much of once before.

(And so it dawned on me that he hadn’t been hanging about Cheapo Cheapo waiting to buy the records but rather selling them the ones I’d subsequently been buying).

The above story is just an excuse to recommend Nick Kent’s fantastic book ‘Apathy For the Devil’ which is a ’70s memoir of his time as a rock writer and it has some absolutely fantastic stuff about the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and the Sex Pistols.  It’s just about my favourite rock book since his last one ‘The Dark Stuff.’

I don’t have a photograph of Nick Kent.  But his book has quite a lot about the time when he lived with Chrissie Hynde and so I’ve used a photograph (detail) of her.

Coincidentally it was taken almost right outside Cheapo Cheapo.

And if you should ever read this Nick, I apologise for once calling you a twerp.

DEREK RIDGERS UN/SEEN – Now showing at The Society Club through May