Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In darkest London

Last night by sheer good fortune I managed to catch the second episode of the TV dramatisation of Patrick Hamilton's 20,000 Streets Under the Sky. I watched the first episode when it was first broadcast last year. But a combination of council duties and inability to set a video machine in advance meant that I missed the other two. This is always happening to me.

Hamilton is nowhere near as well-known a writer as he ought to be. His best novels portray a particular stratum of inter-war London society – seedy characters who are on the margins of respectable life. They feature lots of scenes set in pubs and involving drunkenness. But where Hamilton really excels in portraying the internal battles go through to overcome their demons – drink, prostitution or an inappropriate relationship and the impulses that keep pulling them back. My favourite of his novels is the very powerful Hangover Square (great title as well).

If I remember, I may yet get to see the concluding part of 20,000 Streets next week,

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