No tie? Sorry, sir, get out

TRUE GRIPES Dress codes at the Ritz and Soho bars are absurd
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At best, I resemble a floppy-haired mongrel; I can looked groomed when I make a supreme Cruftian attempt at sartorial elegance. So, when I was ejected from the Palm Court of the Ritz for wearing white jeans (whiter than white from Gap) I felt shabbily treated, if not shaken like the dry martini cocktail I was hoping to drink.

This was two years ago. I have never been back to the Ritz since. A fit of pique? Sure, I was breaking the no-denim rule. But, pique, no. White jeans apart, I was wearing a tailored blazer, silk waistcoat, white cotton shirt, silk tie and brogues. The three men sitting at the next table were not asked to leave. They sported natty two-button polyester- nylon whistles in pale grey and pale blue, grey shoes, calf-revealing socks, colour-matched drip-dry shirts and ties, and Velcro-fastened Cornish pasty shoes. They belched, farted and told jokes.Out I went. They remained.

What do you expect, I hear you ask: silly, poncy aesthete. Should have known that dress codes in grand old hotels are there to keep the likes of you out, and farting, belching businessmen in. Still, I cannot help thinking the Ritz is out of step with the times. Call it snobbishness, but I don't want to drink in that soiled atmosphere any more.

Nor does an American friend who, tieless on entry, was encouraged to wear one of those fluorescent kipper ties that snooty hotels and dusty restaurants reserve for the open-collar tendency. While debatingwhether to contaminate his Ralph Lauren shirt, a stubbly, Amazonian transvestite teetered into the Palm Court on spiked heels. "Does he have to wear a tie?" my friend demanded.

Cut to the hip-hop, baseball-cap-on-backwards Riki-Tik bar in Soho. Here, the same perverse dress code applies, except in reverse. Men are turned away if they turn up in a suit. The ideais to keep belching, farting, expletive repleted businessmen at bay. Their place is in the Palm Court of the Ritz, not among those posing in white Levi's jackets and swept- back hair-dos. Turn up here in a Tommy Nutter three-piece, an arty-smartysilk Japanese number or a four-buttoned whistle from a tailor at the cutting- edge of couture, and you will be turned away.

Both policies are perverse. As for me, I know my place. It's the communal drinking bowl at Battersea Dogs Home where tail-happy local wags never judge a fellow drinker by the cut of their jib.