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David Pibworth | The Blog

Actor, Writer, Producer, Director

A Day Of Tea And Protestation In Soho

Down with this sort of thing ...



I don't go on many protests, mainly because they're usually political and although I do follow politics, I just don't get involved having found over the years that political activists are, by and large, mind-numbingly boring ...

I had a jolly nice time drinking tea and doing magic tricks in Soho.

I had a jolly nice time drinking tea and doing magic tricks in Soho.

Also I find Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn about as politically astute as one another and Mr Cable even worse, doddering about with a face like a slapped arse over leaving the EU.

"But on Saturday I went on a fun protest."

I was in Soho to protest at Westminster Council and other large organisations who are closing off roads and doing work without warning or care over the small businesses which are the soul of Soho.

I love Soho as I have working connections there, plus the protest was taking place outside the Coach and Horses in Greek Street which was something of a favourite watering hole of mine in my drinking days, some 35 years ago.

So I stood outside the pub most of the day doing magic tricks, in the company of other people I knew and liked and vaguely irritated the establishment by waving banners and chanting, which is a pretty damn fine way to spend a day off in my opinion.

"The police even popped along to see
if we were all ok."

The pub, which once boasted the rudest landlord in London, Norman Balon, now has an equally notable landlord, Alistair Choad, who is engaging and chatty. That's an accusation that could never be levelled at Norman who retired about 11 years ago, but still turns up there at the age of 90 to play cards and swear at people.

Other than the menu now being vegetarian and vegan, the place hasn't changed much. I don't think it ever will. When I used to go there, it was full of wayward actors and journalists drinking vast quantities of booze and smoking and as far as I can see it's much the same although they stand outside to smoke.

There is still the slight talk of, "Oh, it's not what it used to be" in the same way as when I was around there in the 80's, Jeffrey Bernard and Co would be saying "Oh, it's not the same as it was 30 years ago ... I remember Dylan Thomas drinking 18 large brandies" and other ramblings.

Soho has been dying for 100 years or so in the minds of those who live there, but the characters won't ever die. They will merely be superceded by other eccentric characters who appear to have no idea that in 20 years people will be talking nostalgically about them.

And that's what I'm fighting for: the chance to take my daughter to the Coach and Horses when she's 18 to have a sing-a-long with the pianist on Wednesday nights and to walk around Soho and get a coffee in a small busy cafe with a fun Italian waiter. To take her up to Soho's Secret Tea Room on the first floor of the Coach and Horses by having to walk behind the bar and tell her that this very room was where Private Eye used to invite prominent people up, get them pissed and extract scandalous information from them.

"I'm not fighting to bring society to its knees, I'm fighting to keep it standing."

I don't normally do photos of myself, but the image above is one of me drinking a cup of tea outside the Coach and Horses on Saturday. Now there's something you wouldn't have put money on 35 years ago.

Until next time ...


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More about David Pibworth ...

David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions who provides entertainment for theatre and corporate events. This ties in very well with The Arches Theatre, an outside venue that David owns underneath a disused railway line, equidistant from Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes. This was one of the few venues that could operate with social distancing in place during the summer of 2020 and where they ran everything from Shakespeare to Richard Digance through the summer months.

David has been involved in light entertainment for many years, even going back as far as working on a production with Norman Wisdom in London. He has a knack of keeping in touch with everyone he's worked with and would bring such people as Chas and Dave, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk round to play locally when the chance arose.

His company also represent the stage rights for Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, the writers of Steptoe and Son and Hancock's Half Hour. He has recently negotiated permission with Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais to produce Porridge on stage although this is all hampered by the current situation and the availability of theatres.

Next year, at the Arches Theatre, he will produce Ripping Yarns, written by Michael Palin and Terry Jones. This will be an interesting production as not only does one episode involve playing a football match, but also with the agreement of Michael Palin and the wife of the late Terry Jones, it has been decided that all the profits on this production will go to a dementia charity as Terry Jones died as a result of dementia, as did David's father and uncle.