Posts Tagged ‘French House’

When Brad Pitt celebrated his wedding in Soho’s French House pub

March 14, 2017
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Allied

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Allied

Watched the film Allied on the jet from Sydney to Hong Kong the other day in which the Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard characters get married and celebrate in the York Minster pub. She’s French (in the film as well as in real life) and it’s in London. I thought, can that be Soho? Sure enough it was the York Minister in Dean Street, as became clear from the interior scenes – though it’s amazing how they made it look so big!


The French House in Soho 

The York Minister was the meeting house for the Free French in London during the Second World War but had gained the nickname ‘The French House‘ because of Gaston Berlemont, the landlord (though he was, in fact, Belgian). De Gaulle is supposed to have written his famous BBC rallying speech there. In 1984, it changed its name to the nickname.

John Taylor, founder of Man About Town magazine drank in the French House, York Minster, in Soho

John Taylor, founder of Man About Town

The Minster was always popular with writers and artists. Also, among the many pictures that cover the walls is supposed to be a photograph of John Taylor, the founder of Man About Town magazine and editor of Tailor & Cutter, the world’s most influential style magazine for much of the past century. I’ve never spotted it though.

I was in The French House a few weeks ago with a couple of friends. Highly recommended is a bottle of the house red and a plate of bread and cheese with homemade chutney. Lunch for three for £30!

It was also The French House that gave me my favourite piece of graffiti, on a theme that has been much in evidence since the US presidential election.

I peed on my shoes laughing before Pravda landed on the streets of Thatcher’s Britain

October 8, 2015
The first issue of Pravda monthly in English in 1986

The first issue of Pravda monthly in English in 1986

It’s 29 years ago and the latest monthly magazine to hit the news-stands is an English-language version of Pravda – the newspaper of the Communist party of the Soviet Union. The 44-page, A4 magazine proudly boasts it was founded by Lenin in 1911, on the 5th of May to be precise, and announces its battle cry ‘Workers of the world unite’.

This was still the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s prime minister and Mikhail Gorbachev was the Russian president facing up to Ronald Reagan in the US. A headline inside, ‘How Star Wars flouts the law’,  attacks the US strategic defence initiative with its bluster about energy weapons mounted on satellite systems. BBC Radio 4 is presently serialising Thatcher’s official biography by arch Tory Charles Moore, a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Spectator magazine, where he writes the weekly Notes column.

Besides Star Wars weapons and the Chernobyl fallout (also the subject of a recent Radio 4 series), it was the era of my favourite piece of grafitti, seen on the wall of the otherwise spotless men’s loo of the French House pub, underneath the pavement in Soho’s Dean Street. In 1984, in the run-up to the election battle against Walter Mondale, someone had scrawled: ‘Lee Harvey Oswald, where are you, when your country needs you most?’ Not a Reagan fan then, but the former actor won by a landslide. I peed on my shoes laughing.

Badges from the Pravda title

Badges from the Pravda title

The Pravda masthead shows two Lenin badges and the hammer and sickle in front of what I take to be the battleship Potemkin –  scene of the failed mutiny of 1905 made famous by Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 film.

Nowadays, you can read Pravda on the web.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design