This week’s ‘London Shoes’ trek out, was a little bit different from the ‘norm’ – as it was all about having ‘lunch’ at an excusive world renowned private members club, deep in the heart of London’s Soho district – a far cry from the ‘Egg, Bacon, Beans & a Fried Slice’ that London Shoes usually has, when out-on-the-road.
So – this week’s ‘London Shoes’ topic is all about the exclusive “Groucho Club” situated in Dean Street-Soho-London W1, where I went to meet up with and enjoy a lunch appointment with my old mate Mick Finch, who I’ve been pal’s with since we were both pupils at Mayfield Boys Secondary Modern School-Goodmayes, over 47 years ago.
This lunch arrangement was not just for the purposes of an enjoyable afternoon’s catch-up over a few beers – it was also to celebrate Mick’s recent appointment as ‘Professor of Visual Art Practice’ at London’s prestigious “Central St. Martins College of Arts & Design” (formerly known as The Saint Martins School of Art) – some achievement, bearing in mind we went to a school where almost every lesson was geared towards pupils working for the ‘Ford Motor Company’ or its ancillary industries-in nearby Dagenham.
However, young Mick had other aspirations and went on to college then university, to study art – which (to cut a long story very short) has seen him progress considerably to the extent that he has taught art to a high level, in places as far flung as the ‘Ohio State University’ in the USA, and prestigious university establishments in Paris.
Throughout his extensive and extremely successful career ‘journey’ young Michael has consistently exhibited his own highly acclaimed art works and creations, gaining many high level awards and commendations – and has also written many ‘papers’ and research project outputs, as well as contributions to many books on numerous aspects of art & design – in other words, he is a renowned top ‘face’ throughout the entire art world.
Anyway – to celebrate him recently becoming a ‘Professor’, Mick had booked us a table at the world famous ‘Groucho Club’ – where young Michael is a ‘life-member’ – and what an experience that was for me and my ‘Shoes’.
The ‘Groucho Club’ was opened in 1985 by a group of top players in the Arts, Publishing, Media and Entertainment worlds – who wanted to run their own ‘private members’ club, away from the snobby vibes of other gentlemen’s clubs scattered across London.
This new club was named the ‘Groucho’ in reference to a classic quote from the iconic comedian & actor ‘Groucho Marx’, who once famously said “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.
The Groucho in Dean Street consists of 3 bars, 2 restaurants, a snooker room, 4 rooms for private hire and 20 bedrooms for members who may want to stay overnight.
Membership is very expensive, and any new applicant has to firstly be nominated by 2 existing members.
On display throughout the Groucho Club, are ‘works’ from some of the world’s most renowned artists, such as Damien Hirst, Sir Peter Blake & Grayson Perry, to name just a few.
Within the Groucho Club’s wall you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with celebs from the entertainment world, such as Noel Gallagher, Lord Melvyn Bragg, Grayson Perry, Stephen Fry, Janet Street Porter, Sheridan Smith, Damien Lewis, Noel Fielding, Nick Grimshaw, and the Reverend Richard Coles plus many more.
The only down-side to London Shoes visit was that there is no photography allowed inside the Groucho, as the members are extremely sensitive and protective about their privacy, and there are often ‘paps’ hanging around outside trying to invade the privacy of the celebs by taking snaps of them. So unfortunately, I was unable to furnish this article with photos of the Club’s interior and it’s artistic fixtures & features – but we were given permission to snap a quick one as we left the building following our meal.
However, for lunch, me & Mick selected food from the Groucho’s ‘Bernie’s Restaurant’ menu – and tucked into such delights as ‘charcoal taglionin with girolle, peas and board beans-confit tuna campers with red onion-taggiasa Olive pizzette-pork chops with carrot and fennel’ – now, I haven’t got a bloody clue what all that was about, but it was extremely tasty – and in any case, it was all washed down with copious amounts of some deliciously chilled Czech lager.
So – all in all, visiting the world famous Groucho Club was an extremely enjoyable experience for London Shoes – which now enables me to nonchalantly say ‘Been There’.
Hope you enjoyed this little ‘Shoes’ story, and the limited number of photos that accompany it.