Erik Satie may have worn chestnut-coloured velvet suits, eaten thirty-egg omelettes and founded the Church of Jesus Christ the Conductor, but this was just bohemian decoration. He also walked 12 miles into and out of Paris every day, composing all the way. In his introduction to this wonderfully entertaining little book, Mason Currey quotes V S Pritchett: ‘Sooner or later, the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.’
It should come as no surprise, perhaps, that most high-achieving creative people who have given something permanent to the world are not really in the slightest bit bohemian. They discover for themselves Flaubert’s famous advice that one should live like a bourgeois and put one’s bohemianism into one’s work.