Opium for Mass | High Street | A Patchwork Quill | Solomon’s Mines
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone
When King Lud plays chess… Until lately Clapham High Street was lookin’ a tad down at heel, a touch downmarket, a trifle unpalatable. The chattering classes first discovered it in the Nineties. Gnocchi was knocked back and dotcom bubbly guzzled in minimalist restaurants. Consuming consumé against an appreciation of a consummate command of line. That was, until they sniffed out Northcote Road and jumped one mile west and several notches north up the junction | property ladder. Clapham High Street went down the
two sewers tubes (both of them). The clattering bells of St Mary’s cloud splicing spire, the only constant. Yummy mummies and faddy daddies retreated to the ‘burbs, tossed with lilacs and red may, blind t’ the unflattering stare of charity façades. Meanwhile multimillionaires’ rows, they became chocca. Now the High Street is doin’ a Blur, having a comeback, a stationary tour. Waitrose? Yep. Byron. Yes. Protest free Foxtons? Yeah. The Dairy and its monosyllabically subtitled menu (Bespoke | Snacks | Garden | Sea | Land | Sweet | Cheese)? Yah.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come
Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Aspire to a cornucopian diet of multi layered Michelin starred musings. Rediscovered Clapham’s gone all Louboutin heel and Saturday farmers’ organic food market and sherry trifle on a plate. Yup. Even the gents have been gentrified. The WC conveniently next to Clapham Common Station’s been sanitised to become Wine & Charcuterie. North London’s got The Ampersand. South London’s got an ampersand. Thankfully there’s still a bit a’ danger lurking ‘neath the railway arches. We’re off to the hard launch of Fu Manchu for some moustachioed mischief and fiendish plotting with Lavender’s Blue new intern, blonde babelicious Bristolian Annabel P. “Life’s a beach. No make that a stage.” Quadruple doctorates aren’t a prerequisite. A lust for life is. We give good party. Fu Manchu attracts shady characters. Yep that’s us, we’re on our way. Time to play bridge and tunnel with our arch enemies in a deadly game of Cluedo. You don’t have to be in Who’s Who to know what’s what. But it helps.
The voice of the turtle is heard in our land
Calum Ducat’s Fu Manchu’s Events Manager. “It’s not a generic venue. When you enter Fu Manchu it’s like your own little world. Clapham’s secret. Las Vegas’ Tao Asian bistro and night club. In SW4.” A rim of light installations by Louisa Smurthwaite, beloved by Alison Goldfrapp and Grace Jones, periodically illuminates the exposed brickwork. In between it’s dark like the tents of Kedar. The tall, lean and feline waiter seductively suggests lovely steamed Tai Chi Bo Coy Gow (£5.80) and baked Wai Fa Chi Mar Har (£4.50) dim sum. What a devious mastermind. “That’s going to happen.” Duty bound we help ourselves to a portion or four. Pure evil. Immortally hypnotic cocktails infused with Chinese essence and Asian flavours as fragrant as Jeffrey Archer’s wife. The Kiss of Death’s (£9.50) liquid rejuvenation, elixir vitae. Pure genius. Mancho’s Mind Control’s (£10.00) peril incarnate. Pure fear. Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. DJ Andrew Galea takes to the decks. Time to play the Sax Rohmer. Yo. Let’s indulge in some insidious dancing; monopolise the floor, a game of risk, human Jenga, conscious coupling, connect two, crimes of passion and, eh, rumbustious rumblings (trains overhead anyone?), by the watchmen of the walls, under the unhaggard midnight sun. Pure lust.
O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved
From a Victorian opium den to an Edwardian five star. Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy dinner at the Rosewood Hotel. If it’s not on your radar you need to quickly recalibrate. The hotel’s Holborn Dining Room is where it’s all going on, a macédoine of next seasonness, fashion fastforwardness. A recipe for excess. Forget trays or envelopes or woe betide by hand; bills in books are just so now. Rosewood might be a chain, but more Tiffany than Travelodge. If you could perfume glamour, it’d come up smelling of Rosewood. Money can’t buy dinner with the Right Honourable David Lammy in the Regency Carlton House Terrace (truffle arrancini, kale Caesar salad, asparagus wrapped in grilled courgettes and summer pudding washed down with Laurent Perrier Champers, Châteauneuf du Pape 2005, Mâcon-Lugny Louis Latour 2011 and Château Raymond Lafon Sauternes 2010). Pure gold.
Arise, our love, our fair one, and come away