“In the 1960s,” begins a new and exquisite guidebook to London published by Fitzdares, “a gentleman couldn’t possibly exist without Sir Francis Chichester’s Guide to Good Living in London. It was a pocket-sized map of the West End and the City, supported by an indispensable index 0f his favourite haunts, many of which can be found within these pages.”
And what pages they are. A collected selection of some of London’s most renowned establishments — from bars to boutiques — this indispensable modern-day guide has been curated by Will Woodhams, the CEO of the world’s finest bookmakers, Fitzdares. Written by the distinguished-but-fictional ‘William Wolfe’, its leather-bound covers are chock-full of handy tips and tricks to navigate daily life in the city. Below, we’ve chosen five of the most pertinent pointers…
#1: There is more to London than Mayfair and St James’s
First up, Wolfe’s somewhat surprising championing of areas outside the traditionally ‘gentlemanly’ London regions of Mayfair and St James’s. Here at Gentleman’s Journal, we’re well-versed in the secrets and shops of these central districts — but Wolfe, within just a few pages, recommends that readers broaden their horizons.
Wolfe says: “Permit me to tender one final word of advice, as valuable to the seasoned Londoner as it is to the neophyte. While discernment is a quality to be commended, snobbery for the sake of snobbery is not. There’s infinitely more to London than Mayfair and St James’s. It’s my belief that the pukka and polished can only be properly savoured when they’re interleaved with the quotidian but characterful.”
#2: A good grooming brand can make you feel like a new man
It goes without saying that a good grooming routine is the cornerstone of any modern man’s day. Lay it correctly – from a wet shave to a good cologne — and you’ll be set up handsomely from morning to night. But Wolfe’s advice goes one fragrant, lathery step further — and gives us suggestions as to where to travel for treatments. It’s salient guidance; especially, as he mentions, on a hangover.
Wolfe says: “A wash and brush up at Trumper’s or Truefitt & Hill leaves me feeling like a new man. Should my hangover prove particularly recalcitrant, I drag my sorry bones to DR Harris. Originally concocted in the 1860s, Harris’s legendary ‘Morning Reviver’ is available to those in direst need. ‘Once the draught has been drunk,’ the marketing spiel informs us, ‘any signs of jadedness will dissipate, and all will be right with the world.’ I’ve tested it often. It’s yet to fail me.”
#3: Always line your stomach before a night on London
It’s another corker; and something lesser guides may deem too unsightly or unsavoury to mention. But Wolfe, ironically, is a man who has lived his fictional life to excess — and he knows exactly how to temper any morning-after maladies. The best way? Lining your stomach. And, from Elystan Street to Harry’s Bar to Bellamy’s to The Ivy, his culinary recommendations are second-to-none.
Wolfe says: “Not without reason, I’ve referred to the morning-after hangover. Although their recollection of how it was incurred might be patchy, I doubt there’s a Londoner alive who can’t describe to you, in excruciating detail, the symptoms of the worst one they ever had. My own story is a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of insufficiently lining one’s stomach.”
#4: A modern man’s wardrobe is built on quality shirting
Another page; another excellent piece of advice. Peppered throughout the guidebook are some of London’s best shirtmakers — many of which are based on the trimly-tailored Jermyn Street in St James’s. In a world of every loosening dress codes, Wolfe is at the vanguard of formal dressing — and persuades readers to follow suit (literally).
Wolfe says: “To stroll Jermyn Street of an afternoon is to run the gamut of English style at the most rarefied level. More than once, I’ve reflected that my progress through life has, quite literally, been measured by the calibre of the shirt on my back: from the ready-mades of Charles Tyrwhitt to the bespoke nirvana represented by Budd in the Piccadilly Arcade. Each of the staging posts between – Hawes & Curtis, Hilditch & Key, Turnbull & Asser – has coincided with a distinct chapter in my autobiography it would require more space than is available to me now to relate.”
#5: In an increasingly impersonal city, pursue the personal touch
A final pointer — and perhaps our favourite morsel of Wolfe’s advice in this book’s 131 recommendation-packed pages — is his ‘ceremonial approach’ to communication. In an increasingly impersonal city, the fictional Wolfe makes a point to talk to his fictional friends not through WhatsApp and Slack, but rather using notecards and letters. It’s a throwback, but a thoroughly gentlemanly practice.
Wolfe says: “In an age of incessant and frequently importunate communication, I advocate a ceremonial approach to life administration. Promptly penned notes, on cards or paper from Smythson or Mount Street Printers, keep my chimneypiece bristling with stiffies. Whether I’m thanking, romancing or apologising, I’m grateful to possess the number of a reliable florist. Make that two reliable florists. Occasionally it’s necessary to keep one’s orders, and their recipients, tactfully separate.”
William Wolfe’s Guide to Excellent Living in London
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