Style | Diary of a Somebody

Ben Elliot

A strange and stimulating lunch enlivens a busy day for the founder of Quintessentially

Ben Elliot

September 16 2010
Ben Elliot

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Wednesdays always seem the busiest day – and this one was even busier as I spent the morning dealing with some Malaysians and the afternoon with some Russians. The latter came with an army of translators that always make the meeting twice as long.

However, my lunch meeting was possibly the oddest moment of my day.

I should have predicted it. Simon Hammerstein, my friend from New York, has relocated to Soho, London, in order to open a sister site to his extraordinary cabaret theatre, The Box, which has been so successful in downtown Manhattan. He is opening in six weeks on the premises that for more than 30 years was deemed to be the naughtiest and most risqué spot in post-war London, the Raymond Revue Bar. Simon will do what Paul Raymond did in the 1960s – I promise you that.

Three years ago Simon and I brought The Box to London for one night only during the Frieze Art Fair and put on a night that anyone who was there will always remember. His shows and act linger long in the memory and take you to places other shows only dream of. We proudly took over Wilton’s Music Hall in the East End – a magnificent theatre that was a favourite of Charlie Chaplin and is now one of the most treasured theatrical monuments in the land.

Simon is an amazing man, full of energy and references, and we spent most of lunch not discussing the club (which looks great) or the acts he felt I should hire for my father’s 70th birthday next week, but our mutual love of the playwright, the late Simon Gray, who introduced Simon’s parents to each other. Often an hour out of a busy day to wallow in other less commercial references can be the charge one needs after lunch. Churchill used to have a nap and I am waiting for this habit to become de rigueur once again.

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