The obituary writers have gathered over the corpse of the country and members’ club for about as long as Lord Lucan has been off on extended leave. These male fortresses seemed to be stuck in a mouldy old Britain of starched collars and stuffed shirts, in a world where Berlington Berties would send paper darts whistling through the Pall Mall air while demanding afternoon “snifters” from liveried flunkies.
Today, gentlemen’s clubs are very different. For a start, very few members could be described as “gentlemen”, on grounds of sex as well as breeding. Women too are demanding to share the fun, while most men would prefer to drink with an interesting woman than listen to some crusty bore dribbling port down his club tie (yes in the more traditional clubs, these fossils call still be dug up). Successful, congenial people tend to make their way, not by the old school tie, but by new skool hard graft; and they, too, want places where they can meet, drink, eat, flirt, work, network, and sometimes simply escape.
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