Books

Have I Joined the Establishment?

11 Jan 2013 at 12:16

Earlier this year I got a letter from A & C Black, the publishers of Who’s Who to say they wanted to include me in their 2013 edition. To be honest I had mixed feelings about it. Why? because there’s an assumption that if you’re in Who’s Who, you’re definitely part of the establishment. And I’ve never seen myself in that way. I remember taking the letter to show my mother, who was ill in hospital, hoping it would cheer her up, and I knew it would make her very proud. Today I was sent the book, and there I am on page 550. I feel rather sad because I would love to have shown it to my Mum, who would in turn have loved telling all her friends and family about it.

I have, however, maintained a slightly rebellious streak. This is the final part of the entry…

Clubs: West Ham United

Makes a change from all the other entries who list their clubs as ’White’s’ or ‘The Garrick’. I always feel slightly uncomfortable in these places.. Whenever I have lunch with someone in one of them I usually think I am going to do something my mother would frown at. You can take the boy out of Essex, but you can’t take the Essex out of the boy. A few months ago I had lunch a St James’s club with a Biteback author. It was a very nice lunch, but half way through I noticed that there wasn’t a single woman in the room. I blurted out…

This isn’t one of those awful places that bans women, is it?

‘Oh, yes, came the reply, and a good thing too.’ After a few seconds of shock I informed my lunch companion that it was a good job he hadn’t told me women weren’t allowed otherwise I’d have insisted on a change of venue. That may sound a bit pious, but I spent many years refusing to go to the Carlton Club for the same reason. OK, they’re private clubs so in theory I suppose they can do what they like. Assuming they want to stay in the 19th century, that is…

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