And so our friend Oliver is moving to the wilds of Acton. Having spent the past two decades leading a thoroughly metropolitan existence, he is leaving his beloved Bayswater and taking his wife, his kids and his collection of shop-soiled snowstorms all the way down the M40 to the wilds of W3. His friends, obviously, have not taken too kindly to this.
We think he's making a grave mistake. In order to try to make him change his mind we have been relentless: reassuring him that he'll still be able to pop up to town every now and then, and telling him we know it only takes eight minutes to reach his new house from the West End (if you travel by personal helicopter, that is). We have also taken to slipping the word "Acton" into as many pop songs as possible (favourites currently include "Love Acton", "Chain Re-Acton" and "Acton Baby"). Needless to say, Oliver doesn't find any of this remotely amusing.
Soho House bigwig Nick Jones is also moving west this week, to Chiswick of all places. Jones has already made something of a splash in Soho and Notting Hill, and has created hostelries as far afield as New York, the West Country (Babbington House) and Balham. The success of this south London venture encouraged Jones to explore the hitherto uncharted suburban waters of Chiswick, and his High Road House opens this week.
Now I like Nick Jones, he's one of the good guys, and I admire the way he's attempting to bring a little glitz and glamour to some of the less brazen London postcodes. But is Chiswick really the right place to do it? Personally, I've only been there twice in my life, once to interview Peter Blake, and once to eat the world's worst Chinese meal.
Well, I think it might be OK. There is nothing remotely like it in the area, and Jones reckons there are enough record companies and publishing houses in the region to fill it up on a regular basis. HRH (as I have just cleverly rechristened it) has a basement bar, a ground floor brasserie for civilians (non-members), an upstairs restaurant for those who are prepared to pay for membership, and hotel rooms on the top floor for those punters for whom the Belvedere and the Barolo have proved too much.
The food has none of the "Admire me!" attitude you find in most new restaurants in the capital, and more importantly, there's lots of it (I gather people who live in the area demand a lot of bang for their buck). Frankly I can't see a lot of people venturing across town just to eat here, but seeing that Jones will soon have a Soho House-type venture in every London postcode, they won't need to. As I was leaving HRH, I overheard one of the guests, a television presenter of note, whisper conspiratorially to his friend: "You what? I actually like this place. It's just like Soho. Only in suburbia."
Oliver's going to love it.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'Reuse content