LESLEY KEATING: My trip down Soho's memory lane as an Old Romantic

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? Well, the other night I was transported right back to the 1980s!

Friday, 4th May 2018, 1:55 pm
Updated Friday, 4th May 2018, 1:57 pm
Steve Strange in his Visage days

Mike and I had stayed in Soho to watch daughter Eloise perform with her band, in a pub that was a former haunt of The Sex Pistols.

As we crossed the network of streets to get there we suddenly found ourselves in Greek Street passing what used to be Le Beat Route, once the definitive New Romantics’ stronghold. It’s now an inconspicuous cocktail bar next door to the exclusive Condé Nast School of Fashion.

A mere street away had been a dingy basement club called Billy’s, hosting New Romantic nights frequented by doyennes of the era like Steve Strange, Rusty Egan and Spandau Ballet.

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A short stroll away in Covent Garden was a club called Blitz, where a very young Boy George had been cloakroom attendant and the weird and wonderful of London, including me, used to congregate to be seen and dance to Bowie, Kraftwerk and Roxy Music.

Although I wasn’t bedecked in Army surplus trousers this time – with stilettos, just one chandelier earring, black satin gloves and black lipstick, my face china-doll-white with Biba foundation and hair backcombed into an elaborate bird’s nest – it almost felt like I was.

Once again, I was treading the same streets where 35 years before I’d endured a nightly barrage of insults like ‘poser’ shouted by less adventurous clubbers queueing for tamer establishments.

When we finally left the pub, the streets of Soho had exploded into life. There were people everywhere, music thumping from doorways. It all felt exactly the same, such an unexpected shot of nostalgia.

We later perched on stools in the window at Café Nero on the corner of Frith Street with toasted sandwiches and coffee, attempting to soak up the alcohol. Everything around us was dirty, noisy and raw, buzzing with life.

We were normally in bed at this time so Mike couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel. But I loved it.

As they say: ‘You can take a girl out of the ’80s...’


Getting on for 300 women may have died needlessly because they were not called for their breast cancer screening by the NHS.

As many as 450,000 women failed to get letters inviting them to a screening because of what Jeremy Hunt has described as a ‘computer error’.

What a trite reason for something so devastating. Computers don’t make errors on their own. They’re programmed and monitored by human beings.

We can put a man on the moon, transplant living organs and clone animals.

The entire world can connect socially at the push of a button and genetic engineering advances may eventually lead to ‘designer’ embryos.

But health officials can’t send out a potentially lifesaving letter on time or ensure those responsible for it are on the ball enough to realise?

‘Computer error’?



I have no idea why we’re putting ourselves through this again, but, just a few months after our Big Renovation, here we are again with workmen tramping all over the house.

This time, we’re having a wooden floor in our conservatory to match the rest of the house.

This has involved copious quantities of evil-smelling screed being laid to a non-stop sound-track of excitable barking dog, and now, said workmen are in again, sawing large planks of oak floorboard.

I’m trying my best to work diligently on my Mac from the quietest corner of the house I can find – which isn’t easy – while in a heightened state of alert for the regular clarion-call of ‘any chance of a cuppa?’.

I’ll be a nervous wreck when all this is over…