In the 1960s wonderful places where you could sit and have a coffee or tea, a cigarette and a chat – the working men’s cafes – became popular with the middle classes. They'd always been there, of course, but now they were infiltrated by artists, writers and students - even more so than in the 1930s.
It was great to come out of a club in Covent Garden in the early hours of the morning and then go into one of the cafes where the market porters were having their breakfast and have a massive fry up and a huge mug of tea. Happy days!
In winter the windows steamed up and in summer the doors opened onto the street. Builders and postal workers, City gents, gutter press hacks and ladies of the night all mingled.
A fug of smoke hung in the air and students and CND supporters imagined they were in Paris conversing with Existentialist poets. Writers spread out their notebooks, and ordered a coffee that lasted all day.
They observed the cast of bizarre characters whose unwitting performances would fuel their literary imaginations.
Authors like Quentin Crisp, Colin Wilson, Nell Dunn and Ian Sinclair have all captured the democratic spirit of the old ‘greasy spoon’.