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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 31 July 2009

Cameron: age question
Younger set go for club scene

EMPIRE and elitism are two timeless staples of the gentleman’s club.
But now it’s time to step aside gin-soaked colonels and ruddy-cheeked brigadiers because all that is changing as Boodles goes all Boujis to entice a younger crowd onto its imposing Chesterfields.
Diary hears that young men and women are banging on the doors of some of the most prestigious clubs in St James’s and Mayfair to take advantage of relaxed membership rules, cheaper rates and in some cases cheap beer.
One club Diary won’t be getting into is the Carlton.
Founded in 1832, and demanding Tory membership as a prerequisite (elitism not quite dead then), the St James’s club has seen a 50 per cent spike in applications from under-35s.
Maybe David Cameron’s claims that young voters will turn to his party aren’t as ridiculous as they sound.
At the Savile Club in Brook Street, a one-time haunt of Rudyard Kipling, the price of a pint has been cut to £2.50 and opening hours extended to 1am. It won’t be long before “hooray Henry, it’s happy hour”.

School friend’s fond memories of Aeronwy Thomas

THE death of Aeronwy Thomas-Ellis, the daughter of Welsh poet Dylan and Caitlin Macnamara, brought back memories to her old school friend Fiona Green of their days together at the famous Dartington boarding school.
Fiona, who lives in Fitzrovia, met Aeronwy at the school in Devon when they were both 15, though the daughter of the hell-raising Welsh lyricist was taken away after just a year, as her parents thought the regime there too progressive.
Instead, she was packed off to Italy to be taught by nuns.
For a brief time, Dylan lived in a caravan at the bottom of a garden in Delancey Street, Camden Town, and Aeronwy, who passed away last week at 66, would sometimes visit.
Aeronwy was born in London during the war and spent her childhood between London, Oxford – where the Thomases would often stay with the historian AJP Taylor – and Laugharne, Wales.
Later in life she would tour America and lecture on her father’s work, as well as becoming involved in the Dylan Thomas Society and working to preserve his legacy.
And Diary hears she was an accomplished poet herself – something we believe will become better known when her memoirs are published in the next few months.

Spanner in the fountains’ works

IT seems just like the other week council leader Colin Barrow was rhapsodising about the Marble Arch fountains.
“I make no apologies for investing in Marble Arch. This is an iconic space and all the residents and businesses I have come across have been extremely supportive of our efforts to put Marble Arch back on the map,” he said when unveiling the £1.5million revamped fountains.
Well now the fountains have stopped spurting, and the plumbers have had to be called in.
Diary has a theory that the besieged toilet beneath the landmark could be getting its revenge. Rumours are afoot that the council wants to close the toilet because it is seen to attract the “wrong kind” of people. Is the plumbing connected? Some sort of public loo bad karma at work perhaps?
Or maybe Marble Arch is just one of those unfortunate spots that is simply just beyond salvation.

Greening Root and branch makeovers

WE'VE heard of rampant weed outbreak but it looks like this tower block got sprayed with industrial quantities of fertiliser.
The proper explanation is rather more interesting.
The root-and-branch makeover is part of an environmental drive by Westminster City Council to get more residents and developers living a bit greener.
This particular building is the world famous Athenaeum hotel in Piccadilly, designed by the botanist and designer Patrick Blanc.
The council is trying to encourage more people to get into urban gardening, although last time Diary checked, City Hall was still a brutalist block of concrete with no living walls or green roofs to speak of.
Are they going to lead by example?

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