We had a day up in London on Sunday to celebrate my good news, although the driving was a nightmare - blocked roads and one way streets making a maze out of a city I used to know like the back of my hand.
We were headed for Soho for coffee and cakes at Maison Bertaux;
A Soho institution from the days when this was 'The French Quartier';
It's fair to say that the coffee is better at Caffé Nero, the cakes are nicer elsewhere too and more or less anywhere would be cheaper but this is Maison Bertaux on a sunny Soho Sunday morning;
There's nothing quite like a Sunday morning in Soho.
Maison Bertaux opened in 1871, the year The Paris Commune was drowned in blood - the first time socialism was established in Europe.
When the right-wing dictatorship took back control of the city, thousands were killed and some 100,000 refugees fled to Britain.
Many came to live in Soho and brought their distinctive businesses, language and style to the district.
While Soho became the centre for Gangsters, Pornography and Prostitution, the French flavour of the district lived on well into my day.
When we finished, we wandered around the 'Three Streets' of Soho, just strolling and enjoying the buskers;
We checked out some of the little shops - like this one which has every kind of tea and coffee (including Kopi Luwak which is the one that's passed through the tummy of a wild cat first, left side, third row down);
I loved Soho when it was wild and dangerous and now it's respectable and safe with it's advertising Agencies, the Film industry and the Music bizz.
It's not the same.
There is still some graffiti;
But it's a bit deceptive - this graffiti was at a production unit and was designed to discourage anyone else 'Tagging' the wall;
There was a whole wall dedicated to The Krays, 1960's gangsters who fought with the rival Richardson family for control of the clubs of Soho;
They liked their cups of tea, did the Krays and the Flamingos are a nod to the club of that name.
We both know where the cream cake came from, don't we?
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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