[Images: Nathan James Page]
AKA the Lesser Spotted Oligarch. Very little is known about the oil-rich denizens of Mayfair – are they as big and empty as their houses? Or as small and complicated as their tax bills? And what do they do when they’re not bankrolling unpopular football clubs or unpopular newspapers? Other than checking their champagne-flavoured vodka for polonium. Your only chance of catching a glimpse of these shadowy Ruskies is by hanging around the food hall at Harrods, where they sometimes nip in to buy exotic fruits in the shape of Vladimir Putin’s face.
2. Media types
Before the mass exodus to Broadcasting House by BBCers, west London was awash with meedja professionals. These days, like a failing terrestrial channel, their numbers are significantly lower. But spend any time in Shepherd’s Bush and you can still find a few gabbing about ‘Strictly’ over a liquid lunch. Two things to remember: 1) Media men are always called either Will or Tim, and media women are always called either Katie or Fi. It’s the law. 2) On no account get drunk with them or you’ll almost certainly wake up to find you’ve commissioned a terrifyingly dull six-part series for BBC Four called ‘Armchairs of the Plantaganets’.
West London’s rastas aren’t irie, they’re angry. Their main beef is with ‘Babylon system’ – ie the gentrification of once Caribbean-strong neighbourhoods around Portobello Road. And who can blame them? The beginning of the end came with the literal whitewashing of Notting Hill via romantic comedy. The only way to build community ties now is for Richard Curtis to write a sequel in which a floppy-haired bookseller falls in love with Snoop Lion.
4. Ageing rockers
In the ’60s, The Ealing Club pretty much invented British Blues. The Stones, The Yardbirds and The Animals all played there, and boy, do the locals like to remind you. Linger too long over the pub jukebox and a balding, long-haired man in a natty waistcoat and Marks & Spencers denim will tell you a (largely fabricated) story about how he taught Eric Clapton his first chord, and how he formed the Rolling Stones with Mick while Keith was in the toilet. If you’re really lucky he’ll give you a go on his mouth organ.
Young and dashing, pompous and rich, the Fauxhemians of Ladbroke Grove don’t play by the rules. Especially the one about paying rent to their parents. Their days are spent shuffling round the market and Notting Hill Music & Video Exchange, pretending to enjoy William Burroughs and picking the scabs on their latest tattoo. All to a soundtrack of their own listless guitar strumming. It’s the parents I feel sorry for: ‘Mum, Dad, I’m not going to uni, I’m going to concentrate on looking cool in a hat.’
By Michael Curle, who looks really cool in a hat.
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