Still in London. Love going into the bookstores here and browsing unfamiliar books and familiar books with unfamiliar covers. Couldn’t resist picking up Gordon Ramsey’s autobiography, skimming the first chapters over coffee. Yet another ferociously driven, successful man who suffered an asshole for a father. I’m hardly saying that all uber-successful people have brutal parent(s), or that the child of a brutal parent will grow up to be successful, but in my experience, especially among the last few years — among people I know and people I know of — there seems to be an uncommonly common link.
I was talking to a man whose Significant Other has either a brother or cousin — can’t remember — who is, he says, “the Brent Bolthouse of London”. Bolthouse, for those of you who don’t know and don’t care — yet I am going to tell you anyway — is the topdog promoter who rules the Los Angeles elite club scene. (The social power lies not with the club owners, but the promoters; the scene itself moves from club to club, depending on which weeknight it is.) He controls The List, which is not all that different from, say, the list of ‘The 400’ in late nineteenth-century New York deemed worthy enough to attend the ultraglam ball held at the Astors at the climax of every social season.* The Astors put you on the list — or not — according to their judgment of your birthright and breeding (wealth in and of itself was never enough); Bolthouse puts you on the list — or not** — according to how famous you are (wealth in and of itself is never enough).
So this British counterpart to Bolthouse opened some kind of pub that was actually supposed to be the antidote to the elite, posh clubs he’d been dealing with — this pub was relaxed, kitschy, open to one and all, a place to hang out and kick back. Except he couldn’t escape the aura of his own reputation and so once people found out that this was his new joint, they descended in swarms. Including Prince William. Then it all went to hell. The prince broke up with his girlfriend, and went with his buddies to this particular pub to mourn the relationship/celebrate his freedom. The papparazi took photos of a rather sloshed prince stumbling out. The pictures went round the world the next day, and now the place is anything but relaxed — the paps hover round, knowing the prince is still a regular, and try to cajole and bribe their way inside*** to snap a photo of him close-up, going so far as to offer the manager/owner “bonds worth thirty or forty thousand American dollars”. He said no.
*Mr and Mrs Astor considered themselves the top of New York society and decided that the perfect party had 400 people. This gave rise to the ‘list of the 400’, or ‘The 400’, which everyone aspiring to be part of ‘fashionable New York’ wanted to be on — at least until Mrs Astor became regarded as dull, stuffy, and overexposed, and fashionable New York passed her by. Legend has it that the number got whittled down to 400 because that was all the Astors could fit into their ballroom, but that was just clever PR.
** Mostly not.
*** you could say they want on the list