Monday, 14 July 2008

The Bombing of Biba

I’m not quite sure what the correct etiquette/pose is supposed to be about getting reviews of one’s books. I have a suspicion that one is supposed to claim that one doesn’t read the things, but presumably we all do and, for those of us who aren’t household names (and never likely to be), they’re surely a source of deep joy.

Certainly they are for me. Someone I’ve never met has been paid to read my book and write about it. From the thousands of books that could have been chosen, they’ve chosen mine. Cool.

It helps, of course, if the comments that get printed are positive and – so far – things have been going pretty well for my latest book, Crisis? What Crisis? There have been the expected comments about things that I left out (inevitable in an attempt to discuss the whole of 1970s Britain in a single volume), but mostly it’s been encouraging.

In another world, since publication, I’ve also been posting extracts from the book on my website from time to time. And coincidentally I added a piece about the Angry Brigade’s bombing of the fashion legend, Biba, last week – just as Francis Beckett (a fine writer, by the way) was pointing out in a review in the Guardian that:

‘The author once wrote a book about the clothes store Biba, and Biba pops up in this account far more frequently than its influence justifies.’

Well, maybe he’s right. After all, he adds that my ‘wide-ranging selection of fact … is eclectic, not to say eccentric.’ Which is certainly true. I have hobby-horses that I like to ride. And I really like Biba: its story seems to me to encapsulate so much about the early-1970s.

Anyway this is the most significant passage about Biba – the story of how it was bombed by the Angry Brigade, and the curious fact that the anarchist terrorist group involved went on to inspire a trouser named the Angry Pants.

1 comment:

Phil Yerboutz said...

There is only one fashion store ever that has been targetted by the Angry Brigade and that was Biba. Not an over inclusion problem I think, in fact I would have liked more mention of the Biba phenomenon given that everyone who was anyone used the place at the time. The brigade did not have any problem with Bob Dylan's involvement with mass marketing or "selling out"however. selective these people eh?