The grandeur and romance of Mayfair were immortalised in the classic song A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.
But today, I fear, the nightingale would be drowned out by howls of outrage — and allegations of ‘abhorrent behaviour’ — emerging from the square’s north-eastern corner.
The cacophony has been provoked by plans to extend the Guinea Grill pub and restaurant into a neighbouring building in Bruton Place, which leads into Bruton Street, where the late Queen Elizabeth was born at the home of her maternal grandparents.
These days, the Guinea Grill is favoured not so much by ageing aristocrats as by top model David Gandy and buccaneering financiers, who nonchalantly fork out £49.50 for a 16oz sirloin steak — and, on occasion, £2,452 for a bottle of Chateau Latour 2005.
The cacophony has been provoked by plans to extend the Guinea Grill pub and restaurant into a neighbouring building in Bruton Place, which leads into Bruton Street
But the behaviour of the contemporary clientele allegedly leaves a bad taste, according to a Michelin-starred chef intent on opening his first solo restaurant directly opposite.
Objecting to the Guinea’s plans, lawyers for the Michelin chef — whose identity is not disclosed — say their client is concerned that the extension could lead to ‘an increase in public nuisance and crime and disorder’.
They add: ‘Our client has already witnessed and experienced the encroachment of customers from the Guinea’ — and, in a startling allegation, conclude by saying their client has additionally noted ‘nuisance caused by those using the external area, including defecation’.
I revealed a year ago that Gandy, 42, Britain’s best-paid male model, and a group of his friends were ordered to leave the Guinea for allegedly loutish behaviour. But there was absolutely no suggestion that he or his chums did anything unmentionable outside, and indeed one of the group denied they were rowdy.
A spokesman for Young’s, the Guinea’s owners, claims that ‘the allegations regarding abhorrent behaviour do not relate to our customers’.
These days, the Guinea Grill is favoured not so much by ageing aristocrats as by top model David Gandy and buccaneering financiers, who nonchalantly fork out £49.50 for a 16oz sirloin steak — and, on occasion, £2,452 for a bottle of Chateau Latour 2005
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is full of festive spirit already. ‘My husband bought me a whisky miniatures advent calendar,’ she says of Neil Murray, the doctor she married in 2001. ‘I’m concerned he might soon realise all the drawers are empty except December 24 — and that’ll be empty tonight.’ Merry Christmas!
Nancy’s dressed for high society
It has plunged below zero and the pavements are treacherous, yet Nancy Dell’Olio is doing her Christmas shopping in towering heels.
The former inamorata of theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn was spotted tottering in six-inch platform boots as she looked for presents in King’s Road, Chelsea, West London.
The Italian lawyer’s love of heels was a bone of contention when she competed on Strictly in 2011.
She was banned from wearing her favourite Christian Louboutin six-inch stilettos, as they were deemed too dangerous under BBC health and safety rules.
Dell’Olio, 61, eventually agreed to wear four-inch stilettos as a compromise.
It has plunged below zero and the pavements are treacherous, yet Nancy Dell’Olio is doing her Christmas shopping in towering heels
The former inamorata of theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn was spotted tottering in six-inch platform boots as she looked for presents in King’s Road, Chelsea, West London
Motorists stranded in cars, rail passengers confronted by abandoned trains . . . now Grayson Perry’s frocks are imperilled. ‘Burst water main,’ reports the cross-dressing Turner Prize winner, apparently the latest casualty of the icy weather. ‘Bedroom is underwater,’ says Grayson, 62, who’s posted footage on social media. His ceramic masterpieces appear to have been spared — but perhaps not his dresses. ‘Haven’t dared open the wardrobe yet,’ the artist adds.
We’re all under pressure to save energy, but that’s a rather bigger challenge if you live in a stately home.
I hear that Prince Philip’s confidante, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, is embarking on an eco-makeover at Broadlands, where both Queen Elizabeth and King Charles spent some of their honeymoons.
The Countess, Penny Knatchbull, has applied to Test Valley Borough Council for listed building consent to replace dozens of windows at the 60-room Hampshire pile. The work will cost a fortune.
‘These improvements are required to achieve better comfort levels as well as reducing energy consumption and providing a stable environment for the house interiors,’ says a document attached to the application.
How Chic! Rodgers rides to rescue of carol service
Disco legend Nile Rodgers and his band, Chic, jetted in from America to perform at Nordoff Robbins fundraising Christmas Carol service at St Luke’s Church in Chelsea, after Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who were unavailable.
‘It was like family helping out family,’ Rodgers (right) tells me. ‘I know in my heart, if the positions were changed, they would do the same.’
Give that man an honorary knighthood!
‘I would like to wear a suit of armour, coming with a horse and an Avalon sword,’ he says of any investiture at Buckingham Palace.
Sir Rod Stewart was convinced that more young women were attending his concerts — until the truth dawned on the 77-year-old singer. ‘We just did three months out in the U.S., and it was younger than I’ve ever seen,’ he says. ‘Unless the promoter pushed all the young girls down the front to keep me happy.’ Some guys have all the luck.
Many families boast unusual festive traditions, but TV presenter Mel Giedroyc says she left a boyfriend because of his.
‘I knew it was over when the whole family, before Christmas lunch, fired up some steaks and started eating them at half ten in the morning,’ the comedienne says.
‘I was, like, “What’s going on here?” And they said, “We always do this — we like to stretch our stomachs before Christmas lunch so we can eat more”.
‘I thought, “I’m out of here”.’
Anderson, defender of The Crown
Gillian Anderson, who played Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, is fed up with criticism of the hit Netflix drama about the Royal Family from distinguished figures such as Dame Judi Dench.
And The X-Files star, 54, warns that the series could have been far more damaging.
‘There’s a lot that has not been written about that could have been,’ she says. ‘And if you knew the difference in those, you’d see there is a great deal of kindness and restraint.’
Anderson even claims the Windsors should be grateful: ‘The whole family is more internationally loved, celebrated and understood in a way that they wouldn’t be, were it not for the show.’
Anderson, it should be pointed out, is a special friend of The Crown’s creator, Peter Morgan.