Gentleman’s clubs by their very name do not exist for the likes of me. Daddy and his generation all belonged to one. It defined your politics and status in life but was not the preserve of ladies let alone those of the Daffers stiletto heel brigade!!! This might be a reason why in some cases they had to have a rethink. A younger generation preferred the gym club and not to have to observe dress codes. Even today a tie and jacket is de rigeur in most. They still had advantages of cachet and accommodation for the out of towner. There was one which I always wanted to visit, and that which bears the name of the great actor David Garrick and where many great actors foregather still, the Garrick. Yesterday for the first time I was invited there.
Situated in Covent Garden in a street of the same name, it is a grand building and its stately interiors house a fine picture collection, drawing and dining rooms.
I had potted shrimps and lamb but they could not serve this with roast but only new potatoes. It was perfectly acceptable but lacked a touch of imagination. On the club table I recognised as a political figure of the moment Lord Adonis and another character actor with a large head who often played dishonest civil servants in Bernardette Angell’s beloved The Professionals. I felt the whole experience lay more in the gracious milieu than in the cuisine.
Bob Tickler always struck me as a well-polished sort of club man. To my surprise he rather prefers a cool hotel in the West End for his London visits. He told me that the porters and management would disprove of his “popsies” and these days he does not like to wear any tie let alone the club one. Nonetheless after yesterday at the Garrick I do believe that much would be lost if clubs in their traditional form became redundant and I doubt if they ever will.