It’s been a while since I spent a night out of Lincolnshire, so it was a treat to spend last night at the Farmers Club. I gave an after dinner speech to their committee.
Yesterday’s work and the journey down were less than perfect so I arrived in a state of panic but the world seemed a better place after a couple of glasses of rather good wine (the committee appear to drink from a superior cellar).
Looking back through the archives I see that I haven’t told you about the Farmers Club before. Do you know about it?
It’s a private members club happily located between the West End and Westminster. The restaurant is good, the rooms are great value and they have all all the newspapers and magazines every day (OK, not stuff like the Express or the Mirror – I said NEWSpapers). Obviously every room gets a compulsory Telegraph and Farmers Weekly of their own.
The balcony in the bar overlooks the South Bank on the Thames. It is my second favourite view to drink gin and tonic to after Pu Dong from Bar Rouge on the Bund in Shanghai (pretentious, moi?). I’m sure that I would have enjoyed the days of the Empire.
I love everything about the Farmers Club; it’s brilliant. I’ve been a member for a few years and I stop down there three or four times a year.
The dress code is strict. Jackets and ties must be worn at at all times unless the temperature exceeds 80 degrees centigrade. I normally arrange to meet someone there and forget about these rules. I’ve turned up several times in an open shirt and been politely reminded of the house rules.
Luckily they always offer to lend you a jacket and tie. It’s always the same jacket and tie.
It’s a one size fits all tweed jacket which weighs about 75kg (a bullet wouldn’t penetrate its first layer) and it’s a 50″ chest with extra long arms (I’m a 40″ regular in case you work for the marketing department at Hackett and were thinking of sending me a present for Valentines day).
The tie is a red one with little paisley embellishments. It truly is “the outfit of shame” when you get those two beauties paired up together. I’ve done it twice and it’s one of farming’s rites of passage. When you see someone standing in the bar looking embarrassed and wearing that red tie, they don’t half look like a fresher.
Anyway. Last night I thought that I was a part of history. The youngest member of the committee removed his jacket after dinner. It was a Rosa Park moment. There was a fair bit of coughing and eventually he was rebuked by the Chairman. He stood firm for a moment. The air was thick with tension. It was like a classic movie stand off.
I wondered if it would set a new precedent, perhaps it was the beginning of a new suffrage movement. Sadly, although I’m normally quite progressive in my views, I didn’t show the poor chap any solidarity at all. I kept my whistle on throughout. I didn’t even loosen my tie. He capitulated and had to put his jacket back on. It wasn’t a good fit – he was only 5cm tall at this point, bless him.
I’m sure that at the rate that society is degenerating and that the philistines are returning to prominence (can you tell that I read my Telegraph yesterday?) that one day the Farmers Club will be forced to admit people in muscle vests and sawn off jeans. I hope it isn’t in my life time. In a time of change, the dranconian dress rules at the Farmers Club are a constant to cling to.