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Shindig didn’t know it but her reputation with the boys of Soho had been made that day.
It was one of those occasions when time had gone into free fall, everyone watched as he arced gracefully through the air and fell to the floor. He was quickly dispatched out into the courtyard. Sharks would discover him soon.
The Rendezvous Club is a squalid little gaff off a slippery courtyard. Here, you’ll always find a gathering of the ‘boys’ of Soho. These are men’s men; mostly one syllable names: Vic, Stan or Reg, and definitely not how you would expect gangsters to look – no Bogarts or Greenstreets here. From the ‘meat rack’ in the Dilly to Joe Lyons Corner House at Coventry Street or the Sunset Club on Carnaby Street, it is startling how these places fit in and complement deviant life and villainy. Soho, in the 1950s, was a centre for misfits and petty criminals. Surrounded by this unusual brew of characters, Shindig seems to fit right in. That is until things change for the bosses up west and the powers look to be shifting in Soho’s underworld…Jake Arnott meets Nell Dunn in this gritty accolade to Soho and to deviants of every ilk.
“Critical Mass” says: A fantastically gritty read – unputdownable!
A Blues For Shindig Review by Nick Churchill of Daily Echo
Just in case any teenager – or 20-, 30-, 40-, even 50-something for that matter – was damn foolish enough to contend it was their generation that invented sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Mo Foster’s A Blues For Shindig puts the needle on the record to set it straight.
In fact, the hep cats and hip chicks of the 1950s Soho she invokes were far too cool for the easy pleasures of rock ‘n’ roll – they were digging jazz, man… with a side order of blues for those comedown mornings.
The titular heroine Shindig makes her luck and earns her crust in the scruffy bars of W1. More likely to be serving Scotch and light ales to sweaty men in cheap suits than cocktails and canapés to coffee bar stars, she’s liked, almost respected even, by a certain type of gentleman who doesn’t appreciate being asked about his business.
When one of their less classy members oversteps the mark and Shindig lays him out, she is propelled on a journey that takes her high and low, very low, beneath the veneer of a capital city emerging from war-time austerity and flexing the muscles that would see it swinging wildly within a few years.
By then, of course, Shindig will be long gone, ahead of the game as usual – as much by luck than judgement – but no more comfortable in her own skin than before.
Shindig makes for a bold and brassy companion in this romp. At once pre-dating the ladettes and It-Girls who’ve since become tediously familiar, yet also touchingly old-fashioned enough to still recognise her own vulnerability, not play on it. Too much.
The milieu will be more than familiar to readers of Colin MacInnes, George Melly and Jake Arnott among many others, but its allure remains undiminished by this racier excursion into its flesh pots and pitfalls which only accentuates the sense that it was a world existing separate from, but adjacent to, what passed for real life outside.
Foster’s lack of linguistic artifice and obvious affection for her deviant subjects keeps the reader’s grubby finger turning the page, each new adventure and episode always well within reach. A Blues For Shindig is a fine testament to youth – yours, hers and mine.