A rare medium, well done: The enduring brilliance of The Wolseley

You half expected to see a mountain of flowers blockading Piccadilly, or at the very least a skywriter in full Mach-5 mourning. The first Tweets and Instagram stories went out before breakfast. And by lunchtime, the panic was in full voice. Movie stars, restaurateurs, food critics, minor royals, influencers, socialites, millionaires, supermodels, hacks — everyone was falling over themselves to show their adoration for Jeremy King and their beloved Wolseley, which was under, it was rapidly becoming clear, some grave but vague threat.

My father texted me around elevenses. “The Wolseley’s in trouble. What are you doing about it?” He meant this in an editorial way (and has often tried to claim commission on my article ideas). But the call to action was universal. Where were you when the time came to stand up and be counted? What did you do to help? Your favourite corner table; your beloved veal holstein; your weekly dose of Billy Nighy. All were now endangered by the corrupting forces of corporate capitalism. And as the weeks have rolled on and the financial wranglings continue, London’s Café Society remains up in arms — voting, where it can, with its stomach and its tweets. Some things we can let slip. Governmental dishonesty. Skyrocketing energy prices. The return of Sex in the City. But the future of the Wolseley? Now that is a hill worth dying on.

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