Monday, September 11, 2006

Ever feel like you've been Cheated?

The Red Lion, Great Windmill Street, Soho is closing. Tonight. Forever. They're turning it into offices. Now I've been compering comedy in the upstairs room there for about three years on and off and there's been comedy in that room for more than five years. More importantly it's the room in which Karl Marx was commissioned to write and wrote the first draft of the Communist Manifesto. That's a pretty major occurrence in modern history. Without it things might have been very different indeed.

Now National Heritage-type issues are really not my bag. I'm all in favour of them but I just don't consider them "my" causes. I do womens issues and secularism (although Marx had some very interseting points to make on both). Still I am utterly furious that it's being closed down without so much as a wimper. I only found out myself a few days ago. I called English Heritage and they told me it's not grade 2 starred listed - only grade two, so it's nothing to do with them, I have to speak to Westminster Council. The latter hasn't answered it's phone or returned my call since. We're having one last comedy night there tonight. Aaron Barshack (the comedy terrorist guy) is coming along and has contact a few other people of the activist type to see if there is any interest in making a fuss.

Karl Marx is audibly turning in his grave.

4 comments:

Melinda Casino said...

That's a shame. I'm surprised it's so little valued as a historic site.

Braganza said...

The Intrepid Fox is being sold into a similar fate.
Dreadful what they're doing to historic Soho boozers.

On the other hand: I thought the Communist Manifesto is more famously remembered as having written in the British Library Reading Room? If we're to slap a preservation order on every building in London in which a famous writer did a bit of work on on a famous text, surely we'd be erecting blue plaques everywhere?

It's a shame to hear about it all the same.

Cruella said...

Well glad to have some good news to share - apparently I'm not the only one who's been alert to this issue and apparently the council have refused permission to change the use of the building so it's going to re-open as a pub. No doubt the Cru-blog media spot-light was the key factor!

Marx wrote Das Kapital in the British Library.

Braganza said...

Nice diversion, but I didn't make any assertion about Das Kapital.

Marx described his rooms in Soho as 'a hovel'.
http://www.infed.org/walking/wa-marx.htm

He spent decades writing and reading at his desk in the marvellous surroundings of the British Museum Reading Room
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jvdc/82173095

Not even if the British Library was a lending library and Marx had been given extra tickets, would he have preferred to write in a room above a Soho boozer. Even if the Red Lion landlady had wiped a table down and opened a window.

He gave a few lectures and was commissioned to write the thing there, yes. But there's a difference between being given a commission and the producing the finished article. Days, months, years of thought, work, research, academic zeal, flashes of genius - you know what I mean.

Marx wrote the Communist Manifestoi in the British Museum Reading Room, the same place he wrote Das Kapital.

But hey, don't worry about little things like accuracy or truth when you're ranting away.

"More importantly it's the room in which Karl Marx was commissioned to write and wrote the first draft of the Communist Manifesto