Monthly Archives: July 2011

2011 ➤ Soho House purges suit-and-tie man while the Groucho laughs all the way to the bar

Soho House, Nick Jones,Richard Caring

The Soho House dress-code paradox: shirt-sleeved founder Nick Jones and his suited boss, multi-millionaire Richard Caring. (Jones pictured by Christopher Morris)

❚ “TOO SCHOOL FOR COOL”!!! This is the Soho House’s newly enforced verdict on the wearing of suits and ties by its 15,000 members at its achingly hipster hangouts across the world. One London member has now been banned from entering the Greek Street club and a second warned via text message that he was dressing too formally.

A year ago The Daily Telegraph reported New York’s Soho House purging members to regain its cool, and over the past two years about 1,000 of its 4,500 members have not had their annual $1,800 memberships renewed, mainly bankers, lawyers and anyone considered “too corporate”. Being aged over 27 didn’t go down too well either.

The paradox is that the 80% owner of the Soho House Group, the immaculately groomed restaurant tycoon Richard Caring (worth £700m on The Sunday Times Rich List) is never seen out of a suit and seldom without a tie. On the other hand, his open-collared Soho House chief executive Nick Jones, who founded the careerist club in 1995, favours the dress-down style of the creative industries, judging by most of his Google images. In 2005 he told the Independent: “Yes, I get Basil Fawlty moments. They usually revolve around suits. I don’t like packs of people in suits. I feel like giving these people some jeans and a T-shirt and saying, ‘Can you go and put these on, please?’ ”

Does this mean Basil would turn away his boss Richard Caring at the door?

Stephen Fry, Groucho Club

Groucho Club style: the corduroyed Stephen Fry

Style guru Peter York identifies what he calls Soho House’s implicit dress code as “knowing casual, rather than the smart casual people bang on about — Tod’s, dark linen, soft shirts with teeny open collars and all that expensively sub-fusc kit”. So loosen up, Mr Caring, if you expect to gain admission.

At the other end of London’s Old Compton Street, peels of laughter were tonight ricocheting round the distinctly more artsy and proudly louche Groucho Club (founded 1985) where broadcaster Stephen Fry has been known to murmur: “Ties are tolerated but not encouraged.” Matthew Hobbs, managing director of the Groucho, gave today’s Evening Standard the official line: “We have no dress code whatsoever.”

❏ Soho House members include: Kirsty Young, Michael Hill, Ashley Highfield, Spencer Matthews, Ollie Locke, Geri Halliwell, Nigella Lawson, Scarlett Johansson, Uma Thurman, Ed Westwick, Ellie Goulding, Davina McCall.

❏ Groucho Club members include: Stephen Fry, Sienna Miller, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, Jonathan Yeo, Alex James, Janet Street-Porter, Melvyn Bragg, Julie Burchill, Gary Kemp, Robert Elms, Liam Gallagher, Peter Saville.

➢ Club bans PR boss for wearing a tie — extract from tonight’s Evening Standard report:

A leading London businessman has attacked “Stalinist” rules that led to him being banned from Soho House for wearing a suit and tie. Peter Bingle, 51, has been told he is not welcome at the West End members’ club or any of its offshoots after “clearly disregarding” its casual dress code. The sanction comes after another member was told that his suit was “too school for cool”.

Mr Bingle, chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, said he had received a “yellow card” e-mail two weeks ago. It warned him Soho House “openly discourages the wearing of suits at the clubs as we are a club for the creating industries and like being a relaxed environment”. Yesterday he was given his marching orders in a letter from UK membership manager Tom Russell.

➢ The PR man Peter Bingle musing about being banned from Soho House for wearing a suit


➢ “As a member myself I go to Soho House wearing a tie because you are not allowed to” — Michael Hill, creative director of Drake’s, the Savile Row haberdasher, in the Evening Standard, July 28

Soho House, anti-suit, dress codes,

Culture Gestapo’s message

➢ Do suits indicate pretentious self-regard and lack of imagination? —, July 28

➢ Soho House gets it in the neck for telling members to remove ties — Evening Standard, July 29

➢ Peter York: The secret and changing life of the private members’ club — Independent, July 31

➢ New York’s Soho House purges members — Daily Telegraph, July 2010

➢ The Culture Gestapo is on the loose — Gawker, 2009



➤ Does chart-topper Adele really need to be on the Mercury shortlist?

Mercury Music Prize 2011, shortlist,

Mercury Music Prize 2011 shortlist: 12 contenders for album of the year

Bring Me The Horizon, Mercury Prize, shortlist 2011, Guardian poll,music❚ BRING ME THE HORIZON (pictured), a British metalcore band from Sheffield, topped a Guardian reader poll (now closed) to predict contenders for this year’s Mercury Prize 2011 shortlist for albums of the year. Announced today, girls include Adele, Katy B and P J Harvey, with Elbow and Tinie Tempah among the boys, but not many bands. Amazingly the Guardianistas’ favourite metal band does not get a mention. Two months to wait for the awards themselves.

➢ View Guardian video verdicts on the
Mercury Music Prize nominees

Is the Mercury Prize there to reward commercial success? Guardian music supremo Caspar Llewellyn Smith says the shortlist calls into question what the prize is for: “If Adele’s on the Mercury shortlist, why don’t you have Take That as well?” — Caroline Sullivan, Tim Jonze and Smith review the runners for 2011.

➢ In the Telegraph, chief rock critic Neil McCormick believes this shortlist is the start of a new sound in pop

It is an interesting Mercury Prize list this year, that suggests to me a nation of adventurous musical talent, stirring a bubbling cauldron of musical possibilities, and starting to forge something new. This is the sound of pop at a crossroads, looking out towards new horizons. It’s interesting how well all these albums actually sit together, from the mainstream pop successes of Adele, Katy B and Tinie Tempah to the dreamy underground experimentation of James Blake and Ghostpoet; the intelligent, emotional songcraft of Elbow, PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins to the multifarious genre adventures of Everything Everything and Metronomy…

❏ FOOTNOTE Tell the Guardian how good or otherwise you thought their seven-day survey A History of Modern Music — in the course of which there isn’t one, NOT ONE direct reference to J-a-a-a-a-ames Brown, the father of funk.


1981–2011 ➤ Atlantis heads home — now space travel is down to Jeff Bezos and the marketplace

❚ THE US SHUTTLE ATLANTIS today undocked from the International Space Station and is heading home to Earth for the last time. This, the 37th shuttle mission to the ISS over 13 years, brings to a close Nasa’s 30-year reusable spaceplane programme.

➢ View Atlantis commander Chris Ferguson’s farewell
to the ISS — BBC News

US space shuttle, Atlantis ,International Space Station

US space shuttle Atlantis: last view from the International Space Station (Nasa)

➢ Reuters reports: An American flag that flew aboard Columbia on the first US shuttle mission in 1981 will remain affixed to the International Space Station’s air lock until the air lock swings open to admit astronauts in future years who ride to the station aboard a capsule built by US commercial companies. NASA is supporting efforts by four firms — Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Blue Origin, a space travel start-up backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — with technology development contracts worth $269m. NASA hopes the new vehicles will be ready to fly in about 2015.

The space shuttle Atlantis is the bookend of 134 previous shuttle missions that have deployed satellites and observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle’s crowning accomplishment, NASA says, was carrying to orbit and constructing the space station — a $100 billion project of 16 countries.

➢ 30-year history of Nasa’s space shuttle

➢ British astronaut Piers Sellers recalls that unique smell of space


2011 ➤ Telling the Truth: a TV doc with a message for the times we live in

Robert Redford ,Dustin Hoffman ,All the President’s Men

“Woodstein” the investigating double act: Robert Redford cast as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein in the colour-coded Washington Post newsroom built in Hollywood for the 1976 movie All the President’s Men

All the President’s Men, Jason Robards, Ben Bradlee

Fingertap. Clap hands. — Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee expressing his elation in All the President’s Men, after finally approving Woodward and Bernstein’s story of the century: “Run that baby!” [Exactly the same gesture that Charles Wintour would give at the London Evening Standard when elated]

◼ ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN should be compulsive viewing for everybody in public life in the UK right now. This, Robert Redford’s greatest achievement as producer, is also the greatest movie about how good journalism works. It examined the greatest crime in the history of American politics: the Watergate conspiracy that disgraced the White House in 1973. The scandal gave to our language the all-purpose suffix “-gate” for any corrupt activity in public life.

The film showed American journalism at the height of its power, and gave the language the team nickname “Woodstein”, derived from the two 30-year-old reporters who scooped the world, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their investigations would lead in 1975 to the takedown of the highest office in the land: the presidency of Richard Nixon.

In 2006 a thorough and thrilling half-hour TV doc appeared titled Telling the Truth About Lies, reporting on the making of the 1976 feature film, All the President’s Men, directed by Alan J. Pakula and written by William Goldman. The doc directed by Gary Leva is as steeped in the integrity of the screenwriters and film-makers as much as the feature movie itself faithfully tries to honour the diligence and persistence and courage of everybody at the Washington Post, under the editorship of Ben Bradlee and the enlightened direction of its publisher Katharine Graham. Leva was of course finally able to report the identity of Deep Throat, Woodstein’s anonymous senior source in the FBI, which had remained a mystery for three decades.

Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post for three decades: here with reporters Carl Bernstein, left, and Bob Woodward in 1972. She put Ben Bradlee in charge and gave him “remarkable freedom in the newsroom”. (Copyright Mark Godfrey. Estate of Katharine Graham)

It was ATPM that inspired Nick Davies, the Guardian’s key reporter who has dug deep into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, to become an investigative journalist. Given the current climate of ineffectuality and guilt spreading through Britain’s parliament, police and press — as documented in this week’s Spectator under the claim that “The omertà of Britain’s press and politicians on phone-hacking amounts to complicity in crime” — All the President’s Men should be a reminder to everybody in the British press today of the campaigning John Pilger’s famous charge that the first duty of journalists is to be “tribunes of the people”.

All the President’s Men, Jason Robards ,Ben Bradlee

Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in All the President’s Men: click on image to run video clip

❏ Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee: “You guys are about to write a story that says the former attorney general, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in this country, is a crook. Just be sure you’re right.”

❏ ATPM on video — “We haven’t had any luck yet” — “Get some.”

❏ Producer and star Robert Redford who played reporter Bob Woodward: “I had to be extra diligent on being authentic. I spent so much time focussing on detail — the tiniest, tiniest details were important.”

All the President's Men, books, Woodward, Bernstein❏ Bob Woodward on writing the book on which the film was based: “Carl Bernstein and I were going to do a standard narrative about Watergate from the perspective of the Nixon White House” . . . Redford: “I said my interest is different, my interest is you guys and how you worked” . . . Bernstein: “Woodward came up to me one day and said he’d gotten a call from Robert Redford, and I said what the hell about? And he said, well, he thinks the story is really us. At the time we were still reporting the story and we sure didn’t think the story was really us.”

❏ Redford on the Woodstein team: “One guy was a Wasp, the other guy was a Jew. One was a Republican, the other guy was a radical liberal. They didn’t really care for each other but they had to work together. Now, that dynamic is character driven.” It is also so often the truth about working relationships in a newspaper office. You don’t have to like each other to produce first-class journalism.

❏ The Washington Post was sceptical about cooperating, Redford said, because the film could turn out to be “Hollywood crap”. Screenwriter William Goldman: “I was terrified because you knew that everybody who was going to talk about this film had at one time or another been in a newsroom. We knew if we Hollywooded it up we would be in terrible trouble.” The film nevertheless won four Oscars in 1976.


❏ ATPM on video — Ben Bradlee: “Nothing’s riding on this except the first amendment of the constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country.”


Allan Gregg In Conversation (above): Did you see a change in behaviour of politicians post-Watergate?

Ben Bradlee: “I thought I did for a few years afterwards. 1974 brought in a whole new young idealistic breed of congressman. For a while their ethics cast a shadow on the American political scene. It’s taken some years for them to work their way out of the system.

“But I don’t think I saw a fundamental change. I saw an increase in the fear of getting caught. I saw an increase in the quality of journalists joining the business – it attracted a lot of good young energetic people who were bright and dedicated. But, in long haul, I’m quite discouraged about the ethical content of American political life… Lying has become second nature to people; to fib first, and then lie.”

Coffee House, Economist
➢ Back to the coffee house: the internet is taking the news industry back to the conversational culture of the era before mass media — The Economist July 7 (above)

➢ News of the World fallout could change Britain’s media culture: “Do we want to replicate the media culture of countries such as France where three or four posh papers are read by a tiny proportion of the population?” — John Kampfner in today’s Guardian


2011 ➤ Open your wallet for a Vintage sting on London’s Southbank

Princess Julia, Chris Sullivan, deejays, Vintage 2011,Southbank Centre, clubbing

Vintage deejays at Vintage 2011: original Blitz Kids such as Princess Julia and Chris Sullivan will be spinning the vinyl to recreate legendary 80s club soundtracks from the Blitz to the Wag

❚ VINTAGE 2011 IS A MUSIC AND DRESS-UP festival indoors at London’s Southbank Centre (so without the mud), curated by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway. This three-day party from Friday July 29 celebrates seven decades of British cool from the 1920s to the 80s. Taking its lead from the Festival of Britain (1951), the blurb says there is no single creative focus, just hours of music, fashion, film, art, design and dance each day.

Vintage 2011 , SBC, RFH,Wayne Hemingway,London, Southbank Centre , music, fashion, festivalAll levels of the Royal Festival Hall are transformed into a multi-venue playground, with ten vintage nightclubs such as The Soul Casino, Let it Rock, The Torch Club and The Leisure Lounge. New this year are The Studio, Prohibition Room, The Bunker Club and the North South Divide. In total there’ll be 70 live performances, 150 deejays, exclusive catwalk shows with Jo Wood and Pearl and Daisy Lowe; decade specific make-overs; vintage food and cocktails and 250 sellers at the vintage marketplace. Each day sees a major Revue in the main auitorium: Heaven 17, Alan Wilder and Thomas Dolby, for example, in Friday’s Electronic Revue… Percy Sledge in Saturday’s Soul Revue… David McAlmont, Sandie Shaw and more in Sunday’s Hit Parade.

Sue Tilley, Leigh Bowery, biographer

Sue Tilley: catwalk show celebrating 80s nightlife

Now take a deep breath. On the Friday at 6pm Cavalcade of the 80s is a catwalk fashion show presented by Sue Tilley, Leigh Bowery’s biographer and Lucian Freud model. Sue says: “Bodymap are showing about six outfits with models including Barry Kamen and Les Child… There is going to be an Antony Price dress… Kim Jones is lending some Leigh Bowery originals… Rachel Auburn is recreating one of her outfits. And there’s the second performance this year after 28 years of the 80s club sensations The Trindys.” The models will include friends from the 80s plus new club kids Daniel Lismore and Felicity Hayward. [“My idea of the 80s” — Sue Tilley interviewed at Dazed Digital]

On Saturday the RFH Penthouse venue goes “back to the futurists” and the New Romantic Blitz Club era with 80s three genuine Blitz Kid super-deejays Princess Julia, Jeffrey Hinton and Mark Moore.

At her blog The World of Princess Julia, the doyenne of clubland deejays gives a quick rundown on how she graduated from the Blitz Club cloakroom to the wheels of steel and says of Vintage: “I think I’ll play a mixture of music that has played a part in my deejay career. It will range from post-punk electronica, disco, retro pop, dance and anything else I find at the bottom of my handbag.”

➢ View slideshow of previously unseen 80s pix by Shapersofthe80s at ClashMusic

Classic Album Sundays and Bowers & Wilkins present the Best British Albums at Vintage in four two-hour listening sessions each day in the St Paul’s Pavilion. At 7.30 on Saturday Mark Moore will be introducing Joy Division’s Closer album and the record will be played in its entirety (from vinyl of course) over fab B&W audio kit.

Chris Hill, Robbie Vincent, clubbing,funk, soul DJs, dance music,

Funk royalty: Chris Hill (left) plays the Vintage festival, but what about Robbie Vincent?

For Sunday night in the Penthouse Chris Sullivan — the original Wag Club host for 19 years and Uber-Shaper of the 80s — recreates the funkier, post-Romantic spirit of Le Beat Route (1980–83, zoot suits) and the Wag (1982+ ripped jeans and Celebrity Squares) along with other gods among dance deejays Paul Murphy and Jay Strongman (who also plays Warehouse on Friday and Let It Rock, Saturday).

Over in the Soul Casino the funk legend that is Chris Hill joins the legends who are Norman Jay and Colin Curtis. Tsssss! Have the Hemingways got any inkling of exactly how many galaxies of star quality they have booked?

In all likelihood, Sullivan says: “There might well be a bit of dancing.” When asked what he’s going to play first to get feet kicking, he responded: “Might well be one of THE great recordings, Eddie Kendricks – Keep on Truckin. Lyrically it’s just there. What a Bobby dazzler!”

Ticket prices are frankly a sting, starting at £60 (wince!), since you are the star turn at this DIY event, but dedicated followers of fashion not yet squeezed by the recession aren’t likely to complain.

➢ Ticket without evening show £60, with Vintage Revue from £75 upwards, Fri–Sun July 29–31, full details at the Southbank Centre

➢ July 22 update: We should celebrate Britain’s role in clubbing — Wayne Hemingway in the Independent, sadly getting his London club memories muddled