High Buildings, Low Morals: Another Sideways Look at Twentieth Century London

High Buildings, Low Morals: Another Sideways Look at Twentieth Century London

by Rob Baker


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‘I don't know what London's coming to – the higher the buildings, the lower the morals.’ NOËL COWARD In the same vein as his best-selling Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics, Rob Baker’s High Buildings, Low Morals is a captivating and enticing insight into the strange and fabulous characters who inhabited an intoxicating, glamorous and sometimes dangerous London now lost forever. Coward himself appears now and then amongst the tales of West End showgirls, gangsters, dubious politicians, Soho porn-barons and beautiful Mayfair actresses and debutantes addicted to excess. Baker unearths the connection between the sexually voracious Duchess of Argyll, her headless polaroids and Mussolini; the sad death of Billie Carleton amongst the opium orgies and cocaine parties during the aftermath of the First World War; the hidden truth of the charming bisexual Lord Boothby and his friend Ronnie Kray; the scandal of the electrifying Tallulah Bankhead and the Eton schoolboys; the hilarious OZ trial, John Lennon and the downfall of the ‘Dirty Squad’; the link between U-boat 35, James Bond and the IRA Balcombe Street Gang; Soho, Italian fascists and the rise and fall of Jessie Matthews; and Graham Greene’s wartime search for food and love amongst shattered shards of glass during one extraordinary night of the Blitz.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781445666259
Publisher: Amberley Publishing
Publication date: 01/01/2018
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Rob Baker is a former TV producer and the writer of Another Nickel in the Machine, a popular blog revealing the most fascinating stories about London in the twentieth century. He also writes and edits for Flashbak.com.

Table of Contents

Author's Note 7

1 The Headless Polaroids, Mrs Sweeny, Mussolini and P. G. Wodehouse 9

2 Scott's Restaurant, the Balcombe Street Gang and the Second Blitz of London 35

3 The Trial of Schoolkids OZ, the Downfall of the 'Dirty Squad' 58

4 Captain Sears, the Nazi Wreath at the Cenotaph and the Hitler Paint-throwing Incident at Madame Tussaud's 82

5 The Charming Lord Boothby, His Friend Ronnie Kray and the Humble Woolton Pie 100

6 The Prince of Wales Theatre and the De-Mob Suit - Starring Sid Field and Featuring Dickie Henderson, Kay Kendall, Terry-Thomas and the Ross Sisters 121

7 A Hungry Graham Greene on the Night of 'The Wednesday', and the Death of Al Bowlly 151

8 When Tallulah Bankhead Met Gerald du Maurier, and the Eton Schoolboys Scandal 170

9 The House of 'Cyn', Jimmy Graves and the Rise and Fall of the Luncheon Voucher 188

10 Cocaine, the 'Yellow Peril' and the Death of Billie Carleton 201

11 Judy Garland, Johnnie Ray and the Talk of the Town at the Hippodrome 234

12 An Absolute Sirocco, Old Boy! Quo Vadis, Evelyn Laye, and the Story of Soho Girl Jessie Matthews 255

Selected Bibliography 288

Notes 292

Index 307

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