THE WAY THINGS WERE

The weather must have been very cold at the end of November 1989. The girls at Goodge Street began complaining to the Evening Standard that they were freezing because of Quartet’s lack of central heating. The paper was quick to make a story out of it, though it got the location wrong, saying that ‘Antarctica’ was at Poland Street rather than Goodge Street. The trio who led the protest against their Spartan work conditions were Anna Pasternak, Jubby Ingrams and Nina Train. They went so far as to claim they had resorted to thermal underwear in their efforts to keep warm. The Standard went on to embroider the piece:

But Attallah, who once spent six months as a steeplejack in the south of England, is deaf to their heart-rending entreaties. ‘My girls will stay slim and beautiful operating in the cold,’ he told me wisely. ‘And carting books up and down stairs will certainly add to their fitness.’

That was one of the most endearing aspects of the place, the way it was viewed by many as a nest of left-wing idealists and blue-blooded socialites who loved the frisson of perversity.

Quartet was many different things to many different people. It was a paradox that challenged conventional analysis and the unpredictability of its publishing programme won it a high share of public attention.

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