Opinions: Do You belong to a club?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
MAJOR NARINDER SAROOP (member of Beefsteak, Cavalry and Guards, Pratt's, Imperial Delhi Gymkhana, Royal Bombay Yacht, Royal Calcutta Golf): First club I joined was the Sirhind club when I was 18 and my regiment was stationed in India. My clubs are a homefrom home. I go there for the conviviality, as much for the courtesy of the staff as to see one's friends. Times have changed, clubs are not as exclusive as they once were, but we're not as fuddy-duddy as people believe, you know.

DAWN PRIMAROLO, MP: I'm not a member of any clubs at all; I don't feel deprived, though if I knew what was fixed and sorted out in them I might feel differently.

TIM RENTON, MP: I've been a member of the Garrick club for eight years. The food's good and it's full of entertaining people from Kingsley Amis to Robin Day - with not too many politicians. I have a Garrick bow tie which is salmon and cucumber I wear to outdo Robin Day. It has a marvellous collection of theatrical pictures and I'm told that the pictures in the Ladies toilets are wonderful.

TONY BLAIR's OFFICE: He is a member of the Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Working Men's, the Trimdon Village Working Men's and the Fishburn Working Men's.

WILL SELF, writer: I confess. I am a member of the Groucho club. It's embarrassing but I have been hanging out there recently. I know the staff, the bar's good and it's near my publishers. It's cosy and people want to feel they belong.

SARAH-JANE LOVETT, poet: Apparently I'm banned from the Academy Club [in Soho, owned by Auberon Waugh] which is very frightening - I'm obviously too attractive. Groucho's is very homely, despite its reputation, which is why I hold my club for fellow poets there.

PETER BOIZOT, chairman, Pizza Express: The Colony Room, which used to be a famous old club in Soho. In the old days it used to be full of very bohemian people. Gentlemen's clubs attract loners who want to have polite conversation about topical events. I wish I could say we talk about women but they are rarely mentioned. Sexism always raises its head in clubs and I think it should be up to the members who they let in and what sex they are.

MICHAEL WINNER, film director: I was once put up for a very posh private club, the name of which escapes me now, but I had to wear a tie at the interview. Halfway through the interview I thought how ridiculous the whole set-up was, informed them that I didn't actually want to be a member, and left. When I was at Cambridge I became a life member of both the Labour and Conservative parties. I wanted to keep my options open.

CARL SHAW, civil servant: I've been a season ticket holder of Leicester City Football Club for seven years.

DEBORAH HARWOOD, literary agent: I own a quarter of Peg's, which is a private dining club. I visit at least once a day, either for lunch or supper. I would absolutely miss not having a club to go to.

SIMON HUGHES MP: I'm a Gold Card member of the Ministry of Sound nightclub. I'm a regular Saturday-night goer.