Civilise the City

London, October 2004

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A large band of tweedy revolutionaries toasted Mr. Beau Brummell with their hip flasks at his memorial on Jermyn Street, SW1, before proceeding northwards, with a pause to admire the fine wares in the windows of Jermyn Street's stores. Reaching the Oxford Street, they sought to draw attention to the appalling lack of gentlemanly services available on Britain's high streets. Several operatives entered the premises of Mr. R. McDonald, where they requested devilled kidneys, kedgeree and vintage champagne. Needless to say, they left empty-bladdered.

Other flashpoints were Starbucks (where pots of oolong and china cups were not forthcoming); Specsavers (no monocles); All Bar One (cocktails off the menu); the final straw was when an operative entered an emporium named Carphone Warehouse, and found that it was neither a warehouse nor did it sell telephones for cars. Even a simple request for a walnut encasement for the telephone in an Alvis Speed Twenty was met with a blank stare.

The band of protesters then sauntered down Regent Street, where their spontaneous hat doffing and jovial greetings to all and sundry were much appreciated. The only exception were the constabulary, who for some reason saw several dozen polite, immaculately dressed Chaps and Chapettes as a threat, and by the time the party had reached Piccadilly Circus, the number of officers outnumbered the protesters.

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At tea time, Piccadilly Circus was declared a Doffing Zone. Anyone entering hatless or sporting unsuitable headwear was gently offered doffing instruction; curious tourists wearing baseball caps were offered more dapper alternatives such as trilby, fedora and homburg. Afternoon tea was served in delightful china cups on the steps of the statue of Eros, while more advanced techniques, such as moustache growing, were demonstrated to curious members of the constabulary, who failed to see the connection between hirsute constables and a happy citizenry.

The very foundations of vulgar society and homogenized chainstore Britain were not brought to their knees, and Parliament did not call an emergency meeting to deal with the situation. However, the Chaps all had a jolly good time, no-one was hurt, and, who knows, perhaps the likes of Mr. Starbucks really will consider putting some loose leaf teas on his menu, purely to entice a more civilised customer in future.