Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Laura Imami's Christmas Presents.

A friend’s mother has Macular Degeneration, and because it can be hereditary, has taken the precaution of having yearly and thorough NHS eye tests at Schuller's boutique optician (based in St Johns Wood and Holborn. E-info@schulleropticians.com).

For months, my friend has been telling me his unique handmade frames have been designed by Laura Imami. When she isn't travelling the globe launching her eyewear, she is based at Schuller’s (at 33 St John's Wood High St, and also at 44 Lambs Conduit Street in Holborn) looking after her adoring clients.
Laura Imami 
This might sound like a sycophantic press release, but it's true: all of Laura's clients do adore her due to her gregarious personality and her natural talent at designing genius eyewear.

My friend offered to take me to Laura's recent London eyewear launch at Schuller's boutique optician in St Johns Wood. At the champagne fuelled launch, the pulsating throng including heavy metal musician fans of Laura's were uniformly sporting her iconoclastic designs. Chrissie Hyde is a huge fan, and I also know Tom Ford is an admirer of Imami’s original eyewear.

I loved the sophisticated designs of Laura’s hand-made frames displayed at the launch so much, I rushed home and promptly threw all my ancient and battered National Health frames in the bin.

The following day, I returned to see Laura at Schuller’s and invested in three pairs for Computer, Reading and Vision. She also organised the lenses for my new frames, enthusing that unlike my pre-historic NHS lenses, these would be anti-reflective glasses.

 Each pair of Laura Imami’s frames are so irresistible that I found it impossible to choose from her countless designs. Luckily, I left it all to her. She instantly picked out the frames she judged the most suitable for the shape of my face, proving she’s definitely got an eye for Eye Wear.

According to Laura, all her frames are hand-made in a small, beautiful village in Northern Italy. The work is done by master craftsmen with centuries-old tradition of frame making. Using the renowned Mazzucchelli acetate and immaculate 1940s German hinges for durable, sleek and stylish frames, the manufacturing process is overseen by Laura until her designs come to life in their perfect shape.

‘I draw inspiration from everything around me – people, art, music, architecture, nature itself. I am a nocturnal creature and all my designs are born at night. Sometimes I’m accompanied by a specific soundtrack, while at other times I draw in complete silence. It all depends on the mood I’m in, but I’m always excited when I feel the inspiration coming. During that process my designs go through various transformations – they have their own organic flow, their own rhythm, until they come to life,’ she says.

I have never had the need to wear glasses out in public, but when Laura suggested I wear my Fabulous new tortoise shell specs for Vision in the street, everything appeared so much clearer. And not only that. Suddenly, I was visible! Who said that Men don’t Make Passes at Dames in Glasses?!

Friday, December 22, 2017


Michael Armstrong, the controversial screenwriter and director used to live round the corner from me in London at the tail end of the last century.

I often used to run over to his flat in the middle of the night to binge watch videos alongside British actors with household names, all of whom went to RADA with Michael.

At drama school, Michael quickly realised he wanted to be a writer instead of an actor and went on to write and direct films like the controversial Mark of the Devil, and The Haunted House of Horror.
(Quentin Tarrantino owns a private copy of the latter film and selected it for his Austin Festival, as one of the most significant films depicting the Sixties in Britain).

 I was honoured when Michael asked me to write the Forward to A Star Is Dead, his latest screen play book about the Sex Pistols.

I saw them perform only once: their second gig at the artist Andrew Logan’s studio in Butler’s Wharf. None of us had heard anything like them before and minutes after they started playing everyone walked out en masse.

The reason why Michael’s A Star Is Dead script with the exploitation director Pete Walker attached (and to star the Sex Pistols) didn’t get made was because the Pistols disbanded shortly after Michael’s final draft.

It was a tragedy, as the band's manger Malcom McClaren loved the script, as Armstrong’s laugh out loud funny script was more outrageous than the Pistols themselves.

 Michael‘s prolific series of screenplay books (available from Amazon) include the House Of the Long Shadows, The Image, a short starring David Bowie in his first screen role and Eskimo Nell, a classic spoof of the old school British Film Industry, which Armstrong wrote and acted in.

 Although I have attended screenwriting classes over the years, the only useful thing I learned in all of them was chatting to fellow participants at the bar during the intervals. But after reading Michael Armstrong’s published screen play books I finally understand the craft of screenwriting.

 Each of Armstrong’s screen play  books include a History of  his screenplay, with various drafts of his screenplays followed with a Glossary of Terms and advice on how to read a script.

 Michael is currently writing books on all his screenplays and as he’s written a vast body of work over the years, this task should take him quite a while to complete. I'm already making space on my bookshelves for them.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

The British Underground of the Sixties Goes To Press

I hope this doesn't read like a well-deserved press release: but If you’re fascinated by Sixties memorabilia, for the first time in living history the covers of every 1960s underground paper and magazine have just been gathered in one publication: The British Underground Press Of the Sixties by James Birch and Barry Miles.

To accompany this mind-boggling event, James Birch, the international art dealer and curator, and prolific author Barry Miles are hosting a major exhibition of the covers and artwork of the underground press in an exhibition at James’ gallery: A22 Gallery, 22 Laystall Street, London EC1R 4PA. From 28 September-4 November.
James Birch and Barry Miles/British Underground Press on YouTube
 I predict this unique show will be a historical humdinger, especially as Barry Miles (commonly known as Miles) is a walking encyclopedia of all knowledge relating to the Sixties ‘counterculture.'

One of his late twentieth century credentials includes being the creator (with John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins) of the infamous International Times in 1966: the first British underground newspaper, which according to The British Underground Press started the news media revolution.

Even though I have no more space left on my bookshelves, I shan't be able to resist purchasing the exhibition's covetable catalogue.

Start wallowing in nostalgia: IT, Oz, Friends, Gandalf’s Garden, Black Dwarf and Ink etc. According to the British Underground Press of the Sixties site, the catalogue also includes the comic books that grew out of the papers, and various examples of the graphics, ads, posters and flyers produced by each publication.

Also, there will be 100 limited edition Groovy Deluxe sets of the catalogue housed in a box each one with an original 1960s issue of IT, OZ and Friends, an original OZ Janis Joplin poster (sob!) and is also signed and numbered by the authors.

(More The British Underground Press of the Sixties by James Birch and Barry Miles. Published October 2017 by rocket88books The British Underground Press).

If only I had kept all the magazines in the late Sixties (when I was in nappies!) instead of discarding it all, I would now be rich!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Sale For Book Fiends

Book Hounds, myself included won’t be able to resist this tempting sounding Book sale:

Presented by Iphgenia Baal, James Birch, the illustrious Art Curator and Art Dealer, Carla Borel and Barry Miles , it will be held at the A22 Gallery in Clerkenwell (at 22 Laystall Street London, EC1R 4PA) on the following dates: Friday 2nd December Saturday 3rd December Sunday 4th December Noon – 6pm each day.
(Peter York), James Birch and Barry Miles
at James's Christine Keeler exhibition at the Mayor Gallery, Cork Street.
I have run out of storage space but because in case I do discover some gems at the sale, I can always syphon off some of my old gems to Oxfam. And then when I realise I can't live without them, I can always go and buy them back like I have done on numerous occasions in the past.

One precious book I shall not be banishing to make way for new titles is my signed edition of Barry Miles’ most recent biography William S. Burroughs: A Life. It's a classic.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Andrew Logan in his crash helmet creation
(Paddy Whitaker in the background)
Photo by Keir Malem

Fancy a lecture on Art Philosophy at the Victoria & Albert? The artist Andrew Logan,  creator of some of the globe's most original sculptures will be sprouting forth about his unique brand of Art at the The Lydia  &  Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre on Friday 16th September at the Victoria & Albert museum.

Andrew Logan’s lecture promises to be a humdinger as according to the V & A, Mr Logan’s enlightening talk will be an exploration and deep discussion of his philosophy.

“Art can be discovered anywhere,” Mr Logan proclaims.

 Friday 16 September 19.00-20.00 p.m. Tickets: £10.  Call the Victoria & Albert on 020 7942 2000 for mass bookings.
Andrew Logan signing his book at the V & A

Monday, September 05, 2016


I was walking through Selfridges’glossy magazine section when I was stopped in my tracks by The Keep's magazine quirky cover.

 When I flicked through this first edition I noticed the Commissioning Editor is Iain Finlayson, which compelled me to buy it.
Iain Finlayson

 Mr Finlayson, an author who moonlights as a book reviewer has written several books including the sublime Tangier: City of the dream.

And when I saw The Keep’s contributors include the interesting writer Duncan Fallowell and GQ editor Dylan Jones OBE, trustee of the Hay Festival I was intrigued.

The Keep, a stronghold of ambitious thinking and artistic excellence; a treasury of new writing, iconic images, exciting ideas and creative imagination is published by Hay & Wye CIC, and intends to be a biannual magazine published in the deep winter and late spring of each year.

It could also just be described as Hay-on-Wye’s new literary magazine, as there are substantial extracts from some of the festival’s Hay based authors’ new books which enticed me to buy them: namely Under the Tump by Oliver Balch and Tom Bullough’s Addlands.

 Hay resident Soma Ghosh wrote the sizzling Death of an Idol:My Strangest Relationship article after Prince’s death on the Keep’s website. In the printed first edition, she interviews Hay based, fellow ex-Soho clubber Nina Lyon at length about her new book Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man.
The Keep isn’t purely a promotional vehicle for Hay based authors’ new books though. The magazine is illustrated with photographs of prize-winning quality, which should make the National Portrait Gallery drool; all of which definitely helps make this first issue a collector’s item. Grab it while you can. (Also available from The Shop on the Keep Magazine website).
Soma Ghosh

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Eggs Over Easy Retrospective

(I should rename this blog "There Is Nothing Wrong With Nepotism!").

My illustrious brother-in-law is Austin de Lone, who is routinely described as 'Legendary'.

'Well, I guess if you stick around long enough, good thing happen,' he tells me.

He is one of the originators of Eggs Over Easy, the scintillating American country rock band who undisputedly started Pub Rock in the early Seventies. For non-afficianados of this prolific band which was made up of Austin (keyboard, guitar and vocals) Jack O'Hara (guitar, bass and vocals) and the late Brien Hopkins, (keyboards, bass, guitar & vocals), read their created detailed entry on Wikipedia!
Austin, Jack and Brien 

This ain't a parochial music column, but I must state here the band, who undisputedly paved the way for the Punk movement had a compelling repertoire of over hundred songs, fifty originals and covers, and during the early Seventies regularly wowed their packed out audiences at the late and lamented Tally Ho club in Kentish Town.

Awed disciples, which included future musical stalwarts like Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Loudoun Wainwright III and the West Coast spawned Huey Lewis worshipped at their musical shrine.
Nick Lowe

Unfortunately, I didn't get my hands on their Good 'n' Cheap vinyl at the time, but now, miraculously on June 24th,Yep records is due to release the entire restored and remastered Good'N'Cheap catalogue.
Elvis Costello
Elvis and Eggs Over Easy

Eggs Over Easy, the criminally overlooked American band that invented pub rock, influenced the careers of artists on both sides of the Atlantic — from Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, to Loudon Wainwright III and Huey Lewis — and laid the groundwork for a grass-roots movement that would spawn UK punk, is finally getting its due with Good ‘n’ Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story, a definitive 3xLP/2xCD set to be released June 24 via Yep Roc. 
Huey Lewis 
Loudoun Wainwright III
Additionally, founding band members Jack O’Hara and Austin de Lone have just played a special reunion show at NYC’s Rockwood Stage 3 which reportedly drove their fans old and new mental with enthusiasm. For the first time ever, the entire Eggs Over Easy catalog, lovingly restored and remastered, is available as a deluxe set. 

Included in this collection is the band’s debut album Good ‘n’ Cheap, produced by Link Wray and originally released on A&M Records in 1972; their rarely-heard second LP, Fear of Frying, originally (if barely) released on Lee Michaels’ Squish Records in 1980; two songs from the band’s lone single released on Buffalo Records; and the previously unreleased London ’71 sessions recorded at Olympic Studios, and produced by Animals bassist and Jimi Hendrix producer Chas Chandler. 

The 2xCD package includes a 24-page booklet, and the 3xLP set features an 8-page insert, with extremely rare photos, show flyers, press clippings, musician and writer credits, plus the definitive story of the band by acclaimed music writer Gene Sculatti, who called Good ‘n’ Cheap a “near-masterpiece” when he originally reviewed it for Creem Magazine in 1972. 

Dave Robinson
With roots stretching back to late 1960s Berkeley, CA, the three principals in the Eggs – songwriters Jack O’Hara, Austin de Lone, and Brien Hopkins – were lured to London in 1970 by Chandler with the promise of a record deal and sessions at Olympic. When said deal proved apparitional, the Eggs “did what any American band would do,” recalls Stiff Records co-founder and original Eggs fan Dave Robinson, “They went to the nearest bar and said, ‘Give us your worst night.'” 
Chas Chandler

Which is how Eggs Over Easy leapt onto the pages of pop music history. Their humble Monday night gigs at a former Kentish Town jazz club called the Tally Ho – pub rock ground zero – would become the hub for a new network of artists, venues, and music biz makers and herald a sea change in the direction of underground and eventually popular music. 

“There were hippies there, skinheads, Rastafarians. I remember, most especially, a Sikh bus driver with a turban on and his bus driver uniform dancing away. It was an unbelievable scene with people hanging off the ceilings. There was this fantastic feeling that you were in on something extraordinary.” – Nick Lowe on Eggs Over Easy at The Tally Ho

 I haven't delved into iTunes for a while but after viewing this 'criminally overlooked' band's explanatory documentary on YouTube, I have pre-ordered the entire Eggs Over Easy catalogue from:
Yep Roc Store Pre-Order: Yep Roc Store

Digital Order from iTunes. (Available from June 24th).

Monday, May 02, 2016

A Vintage Designer Dress Gets Handed Down Through The Generations

I grabbed this divine Ossie Clark/Celia Birtwell dress from the rails at the defunct Radley showroom during the late Seventies. After I wore it to death at bashes like the Playboy parties at Stocks House in Hertfordshire, I passed it on to my sister Lesley. She lived in it when she was pregnant with her daughter Caroline de Lone.

Now twenty four years later, I'm thrilled to see chanteuse/songwriter Caroline (Austin de Lone’s daughter) wore it last night when she stormed the stage at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, paving the way for country singer Carlene Carter's spectacular appearance.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Barry Miles Catapults William Burroughs Into the Stratosphere

My most treasured collection consists of a shelf of autographed first edition books. The Executioner’s Song, Norman Mailer’s arguably best book used to be sandwiched between Evelyn Waugh’s Basil Seal Rides Again and Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives!

I’ve since had to rearrange my bookshelf after I bumped into Barry Miles, the acclaimed counterculture writer and biographer at Marylebone market last Sunday.
Barry Miles

When I espied Barry Miles , commonly known as Miles by the fish stall I knew there must be a God. As fate would have it, I had a copy of his latest book William S. Burroughs: A Life stuffed in my shopping bag. I asked Miles to sign it, and he agreed.

Published in 2014 one hundred years after Burrough's death, it is the definitive biography on William Burroughs, the controversial writer who inspired and motivated a conglomerate of artists to worship at his avant-garde shrine.

William Burroughs
Miles' gripping William Burroughs biography, which left me reeling with awe offers the reader everything and more there is to know about the fascinating/controversial writer, and his iconoclastic literature/writing.

For intricate details of Burroughs' complete Bibliography, including the formation of his earlier works: Junky,  Naked Lunch, Queer  etc. devour the book.

Fortunately, Miles had the full support of the Burroughs estate while writing the bio. He also had the advantage of having being a friend of Burroughs since the mid Sixties, plus knowing other  historical Beat personalities like the influential Allen Ginsberg.
Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs

Miles has had least eighty glowing international reviews including a humdinger from The New York Times and deservedly so.

Miles with Burroughs.
Now, William S. Burroughs: A Life is stacked against Norman Mailer on my bookshelf. All I can say is that Miles’ inscription is the most intriguing of my entire collection.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Peter Schlesinger's Photographic Memories

When the sculpturist and painter Peter Schlesinger took a photo of me wearing a silver metallic jump suit, hanging onto the light fittings at my house during the early Seventies, little did I suspect his impromptu snap would one day appear in one of his books.

Peter’s new photographic book, the long awaited sequel to his Checkered Past visual diary is titled Peter Schlesinger A Photographic Memory 1968-1989. It’s an appropriate title because all the nostalgic photos in Peter’s fascinating new book are of his old friends from the orbits of fashion, art, showbiz and society, preserved in their prime of youth.

Extraordinary private pictures of David Hockney, his muse Celia Birtwell, Paloma Picasso, Cecil Beaton and Amanda Lear are just some of the exquisite subjects whom Peter took impromptu snaps of with his natural gift for composition and originality.
Amanda Lear. Photo by Peter Schlesinger
Peter’s partner, the multi-talented Swedish photographer and writer Eric Boman features heavily in the book, which is just as well as he was regarded as being the most beautiful boy on the block.
Amanda Lear with Eric Boman. Photo by Peter Schlesinger

One of the cinema verity styled photos of him and Manolo Blahnik looking slightly anxious in the crowded Notting Hill Gate’s carnival made me laugh.

The photographs are all multi-dimensional works of art, which necessitates one viewing them again and again. Schlesinger’s photographs, which have a film still quality will never go stale.

Cecil Beaton and David Hockney. Photo by Peter Schlesinger

People who didn’t personally know Peter’s international group of friends including the likes of the artist R.B. Kitaj, Christopher Isherwood, Bryan Ferry and Andy Warhol should none the less appreciate this fascinating book.

Viewing Schlesinger's photographs is like being rewarded with an intimate glimpse into his carefree life during the late Twentieth century. For example, It’s hard to imagine now driving along a deserted Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica which Peter's snap captured.

Peter Schlesinger's sculptures

Peter Schlesinger, whose sculptures are incidentally totally original has produced an unique book which effortlessly records the joi de vivre of his glamorous and individual friends in a less congested world.