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West End Extra - by JAMIE WELHAM
Published: 7 November 2008
Clayton Littlewood: 'I didn't censor myself and pretty much told it how it was'
Clayton Littlewood: ‘I didn’t censor myself and pretty much told it how it was’
Chronicler’s warts-and-all exposé of the Soho village

Clayton’s characters are so bizarre they couldn’t be invented

HOW should you act when a transsexual wants to show you her latest post-op?
Is it appropriate to talk to a celebrity when they’re buying underwear?
What do you do if water starts leaking into your shop from the upstairs brothel? These are some of the questions answered by Clayton Littlewood – the Soho diarist who has been chronicling life in the “village” from behind the looking glass of his shop – Dirty White Boy.
It might sound like Alice in Wonderland, but the characters who occupy his mind and musings are so bizarre they couldn’t possibly be made up.
The 48-year-old’s eponymous blog, which has just been turned into a book, follows a jaunty cast of real-life eccentrics, from “Pam the Fag Lady” to Chico “the campest Queen in Old Compton Street”.
You won’t find them in the Colony Club or the shiny media haunts of Golden Square.
Sex shops, soup kitchens and Somerfield – these are their landmarks.
It was this honest portrayal of hurly burly Soho that gained Dirty White Boy cult status, with readers from as far away as America logging in to find out every next twist in what became a mini-soap opera.
“Business wasn’t good and I’d just stare out the window,” said Clayton.
“In fact business was so slow the store was forced to close in July, one of many independent shops in Soho fallen victim to the credit crunch.
“It got to the point where Harley Street doctors couldn’t even afford our clothes. I would see a lot of different people come past the shop and I just started writing down my thoughts on my laptop,” he said.
But with so much white noise on the blogosphere, what separates Clayton’s offerings from any of the other self-styled Pepys’s? Well, for one, there’s no mention of Peaches Geldof’s latest night on the tiles.
Instead we hear original anecdotes and real life stories told with a Hogarthian incisiveness – a sort of unofficial tourist guide evoking a vivid portrait of an area that is like no other.
“I think the reason it became popular was because I tried to be as true to life as possible. I didn’t censor myself, and pretty much told it how it was. I think people liked the honesty. We even had one grandma from Wales getting her son to print off the pieces and reading them out to special book clubs over afternoon tea. As we became better known people would just come into the shop for a counselling session or to try get written about.”
Among the highlights, the warts’n’all guide on how not to visit a brothel (Clayton’s shop was situated beneath one – giving him a privileged position to comment on such things), the time he feared ending up in a body-bag when the heavies turned up after complaining about a leak from upstairs and what happened when Clayton discovered that one of his protagonists – a man he had come to call a friend – was done for rape.
Jumping between laugh-out-loud to tear-jerking melancholia, Dirty White Boy can’t be accused of sensationalism.
The phenomenal success of the book is some consolation for losing the shop, but Clayton is not resting on his laurels. He’s already started on his second installation.
“If I tried out to try and write a book it wouldn’t happen. It’s been pretty well received and fingers crossed there might be a second book in it.”
If you want to find out what might be in it, see the blog www.myspace.com/dwbsoho
Dirty White Boy: Tales of Soho is published
by Cleiss, £8.99.

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Your comments:

Through his blog, first, and then via the book, I have found a no-holds-barred approach to London's underbelly and the denizens of Soho. I would instantly recognize any of the players in his little stories even though few have had their pics published. Clayton weaves a wonderful tapestry of durable threads.
N. Gowdy

The minute I started reading Clay's blogs i just knew he had something going for him. Clay's ability to write is totally natural & the beauty is, he just tells it like it is..... The humour is awesome, cracks me up no end & then he slaps you in the face with something that makes you cry. I'm so glad he's getting the recognition he deserves. This is just the beginning, he's got it all to come, tv series, movie etc.....just see!!
Maggie K


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