How excited Barry Miles must have been when the news reached him that his new book London Calling: A Counter-Cultural History of London since 1945 was to be a full-page review in a popular Sunday newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, and by a blue-chip reviewer, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Sadly for Barry, it was a classic ego-review – that is, an opportunity for a celebrity to earn some pocket money by sounding off about a favourite subject while pretending to review a book.
Boris would rather have liked to be a hippy: that was the burden of these 1000 words. The book over which Barry Miles has been researching and writing, probably for years, deserved not a single mention. Indeed, it is tempting to assume that the reviewer only opened the book in order to lift a few stories and facts that he could present in the article as his own.
Here is the only mention of the author in the piece,
“London today has nothing like the Indica Bookshop (after cannabis indica, nudge nudge), set up in 1965 by the author of this book, Barry Miles.”
Yup. That’s it – as near to a judgement on his book as Barry Miles is going to get from the mayor.
Johnson’s view of the counter-culture, in case you’re interested, is that it was “stifled in the lilac-scented bosom of the Establishment.”
That is something he should know about.