Posted on July 18, 2014
Bertolini’s restaurant was cheap, but charming: perfect for the creatures who roamed 19th-century London after the sun went down. On Tuesday nights, in Bertolini’s backroom, respected judges and doctors, esteemed lawyers, admired politicians and award-winning poets and writers drank heavily, smoked cigars and secretly discussed what they thought they knew of the British colonies, more specifically polygamy, bestiality, phallic worship, female circumcision, ritual murder, savage fetishes and island cannibalism. The gentlemen would trade in exotic pornography and tales of flogging and prostitution. If, by chance, a pious, God-fearing bloke were to accidentally stumble into the Fleet Street backroom on a Tuesday night, the tips of his Victorian moustache would’ve certainly stood on end.