Never mind that he disagreed with almost everyone about the several talents of David Hare, Harold Pinter, and famously, Samuel Beckett (Waiting For Godot "tries to lift superficiality to significance through obscurity"). He's done his bit for the British stage. Theatre Critic of the Year back in 1966, he's also been film critic for Vogue, book critic for the Sunday Express and arts columnist for the Standard. And he's still on the board of his baby, the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
His wife Drusilla Beyfus can justifiably hold claim to be the politest woman in journalism; as author of the etiquette guide Modern Manners, Beyfus pops up on an amazingly regular basis in the press and on the radio advising readers on how best to handle fish knives and godmothers. As well as lecturing and having contributed to over 60 different magazine titles she's written a books covering vital issues such as parties, courtship, marriage and the art of giving.
Yet Beyfus has hardly encouraged her offspring to hold back politely. While one daughter, Nicola, has been a feature writer and is now the Marchioness of Normanby, her other daughter, Alexandra, 40, is at the helm of British Vogue following a fairly relentless rise through the ranks of society magazines. Alexandra's writing career began at the age of seven when she managed an essay of only eight lines for the entrance examination to St Paul's School. "I still think you can tell the story of the universe in a hundred words," she has said. She got in, of course, and that's the way it's been ever since. This year she won Editor of the Year for pushing British Vogue's circulation over the 200,000 mark and making it more "approachable". All this has been achieved while having baby Sam; but having been raised by such prolifically working parents, what else should one expect?
Of course all well-mannered households must have their more uncouth side; the Shulman's case the nasty business is left to Alexandra's husband Paul Spike, who within a week of taking over the reins at Punch had given old "Unlucky" Worsthorne's column the push. Sir Peregrine was wittily pragmatic. "Spike is rejigging the magazine," he said. "He's got the right name for the job, after all."
Meanwhile the third and youngest Shulman, Jason, has also been ploughing his way through the glossies. He went from Harpers & Queen, where he was art director, to Harvey Nichols' magazine and the Sunday Telegraph magazine and is now to help launch Arena's new style mag for girls. If proof of grasp of etiquette be required, look no further than the time at Harpers when he allegedly stuck to his guns (keep it in) over the issue of Miranda Richardson's armpit hair. And his taste in girlfriends is flawless. The gorgeous actress Rachel Weisz preceded the lovely health and beauty writer Susan Irvine, now his new bride. Big sister observed the lack of dress code at the wedding in her Daily Telegraph column, and the fact that almost nobody wore a hat. "Yes, my mother wore one to top off ankle- length Jill Sander," Alexandra wrote, "but she was in the minority." Trust Drusilla to keep up appearances.
The writer is the BBC's arts correspondentReuse content