September 15 2010
I got beaten very badly at squash by my weekly adversary and good friend, Matthew, who is as competitive as I am. Among other things, he is the CEO of the Groucho Club in Soho and is very charming and funny, even at half past seven in the morning. We have the extraordinary pleasure of playing squash at Lord’s, the cathedral of cricket grounds.
When we arrive, the place is almost eerily empty, haunted by some of the greatest historical memories; when we leave, shattered by trying to beat the hell out of each other, it bustles as teams of groundsmen nurture the hallowed turf. Only two weeks ago this was the scene of what was allegedly the saddest sporting crime of the year. When you take in the enormity of the venue, its historical significance, and when you think of the prospects of the brilliant young fast bowler, Mohammed Amir, potentially the most successful sporting star of his generation, it seems totally unbelievable. He is the face of Pepsi in Pakistan and a pin-up in the Imran Khan mould. The world is at his feet. I really hope the trio are not the cheats the world believes they are.
After yesterday’s furore on a cycle, it was an aggressive cyclist who took offence to Matthew’s expert handling of his scooter and I was surprised that we arrived on time and in one piece in Soho.
Most of my day was taken up with meetings about our social enterprise, Quintessentially Soho at the House of St Barnabas (www.quintessentiallysoho.com), at 1 Greek Street. It started last year as a three-month pop up, and is now a year old with everyone planning for a long future. If you have not yet, please come and see it – what we are doing is training some of London’s homeless, in the guise of a working private members’ club, to get back on their feet, where we can. Such an incredible team and spirit, a delicious menu and even a garden to drink in.
This is the site where Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities and where Sir Joseph Bazalgette planned the Victorian sewers of London. It has been as romantic a journey as the former, and we are determined not to end up in the latter.