When Daniel Farson became a television interviewer in 1956, the critics were inclined to accuse him of brutality: MR FARSON PULLS NO PUNCHES, as one newspaper headline put it mildly. In fact, the brutality is simply the appearance created by his honesty: a determination to tell the flat truth about any thing he discusses. This includes himself, as became clear from his autobiography Out of Step, which must be one of the frankest self portraits since Rousseau . The same honesty makes Soho in the Fifties a jarring but highly memorable book, with the readability of a gossip column and the realism of a John Grierson documentary.
George Melly points out in his introduction that the book is really about Farson's love affair with Soho. When he first came to Soho in 1951, just down from Cambridge, Farson was a kind of Candide in search of Murger's vie de Bohème. What he actually found , of course,