Our prickly epistolarian sniffs out stories of sudden wealth, green revolution, and ill-gotten gains. Edited by Alec Marsh
Any mystification that greeted the decision by Tilney Smith & Williamson to rebrand itself ‘Evelyn Partners’ this summer was quickly put to rest by the firm’s accompanying announcement: the name refers to Evelyn Gardens in South Kensington, where the founder Andrew Williamson happened to live in the 1890s – at a pivotal time of expansion in the Bishopsgate-based firm’s history.
‘While rooted in heritage,’ the wealth manager added, ‘Evelyn is timeless, contemporary, and easy to remember. Both a surname and a first name, and gender-neutral, it reflects the versatility of our offering, and our commitment to delivering a personalised service to all.’
Alternatively, it is, mutters one industry insider, ‘the world’s worst rebrand – a big dose of wokery’.
In The Spectator, Martin Vander Weyer, the author of Smith & Williamson’s corporate history no less, suggested that the firm could have looked back further into its past and drawn equally gender-neutral inspiration from the source of wealth of its first UHNW client – a Queensland goldmine named ‘Mount Morgan’.
For now, it seems, staff may have their work cut out adjusting to the new nomenclature. ‘You try spelling “Evelyn” on a crackly telephone line to someone whose first language isn’t English,’ declares one wag. We hear you.
Ditch the Tesla. British carmaker Mini Moke has introduced the ultimate four-wheeled plaything for HNWs with a green flavour: the all-new, fully electric Mini Moke.
The chic little runaround, based on Mini creator Sir Alec Issigonis’s design from the Sixties, has a range of up to 89 miles – perfect for nipping around the estate or the beach island getaway – and recharges in four hours. Prices start at a little over £29,000 (making a Mini Moke a mini expense).
If you want to try before you buy, the Beaverbrook Hotel in Leatherhead has a brace of Mokes in Union Jack livery for the Jubilee summer. ‘The idea is you take them out for trip in the Surrey Hills with a picnic and enjoy the surrounding area,’ says an eager Beaver. What’s not to like?
Nepotism has been rife in football for some time, according to top agent Dr Erkut Sögüt, whose clients include the German football star Mesut Özil. ‘A manager can come to a club and say, “I want to sign these three players, my cousin as a scout, and my son as a coach,”’ says the agent. ‘It can affect people who want to progress based on talent.’
Now the boot is on the other foot, as Sögüt has written his debut novel – a thriller, Deadline, which tackles the issue of nepotism head-on. It is, he promises, the start of a series exploring the uglier side of the beautiful game. Another book in the pipeline will draw on cases of child trafficking, where children from Africa are taken to Europe with false promises of becoming football stars. The industry was the subject of a recent Spear’s investigation
‘I have seen shocking things in all my years working in football,’ says Sögüt. ‘I want to share my knowledge with the world.’
The topic of ‘sudden wealth syndrome’ fell under the spotlight at Weatherbys Private Bank’s Psychology of Wealth seminar. One panellist, Financial Times journalist Rhymer Rigby, told the cautionary tale of Michael Carroll, a Norfolk binman who bagged £9.7 million in the National Lottery in 2002 and then ‘did absolutely everything you would expect – parties, orgies, drugs’, Rigby said. ‘It was just terrible, and he burned his way through it incredibly quickly.’
Wealthy families also run the risk of exposing their children to ‘sudden wealth syndrome’ upon inheritance, Rigby added, with scions often holding ‘a belief that they’ve done nothing to work for their wealth’, leading to self-destructive behaviours.
‘Where it hasn’t gone so well is where there hasn’t been a lead-up,’ noted Peter Shand, a partner at Murray Beith Murray, or where a family has somehow tried to ‘keep schtum’ about their wealth to their kids. According to Rigby, handing a 12-year-old £10,000 to donate to charity can be ‘enormously constructive’ in allowing them to make sense of their family wealth. You first.
To Darby’s, chef Robin Gill’s modish Irish-American restaurant at Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms, where Dolly Alderton had come to entertain a crowd of American Express Gold cardholders with tales of her frivolous and raucous youth. As Amex’s finest enjoyed Maison Mirabeau rosé and fillet steaks, Alderton joked that the stories in her memoir Everything I Know About Love, which have been turned into a new BBC One comedy drama of the same name, might not strike such a chord with a room-full of credit-worthy people who clearly ‘have their lives together’.
When Hedgehog went to say hello, Alderton remembered us fondly from her younger days as a jobbing writer: ‘Oh, I know Spear’s – you paid such good rates to freelancers.’ If only all things were as immune to the effects of inflation…
As well as dishes, the double Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc also serves up a good anecdote at Mark’s Club’s chef dinner series – including one about the time the Queen Mother and her entourage came to lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire.
Asked by the Queen Mother what his greatest achievement was, Blanc opined that it was to have got 150 Brits on their feet, fists on chests, singing the French national anthem. He then went on to explain the meaning of the song – namely ‘the right of men and women to be equal in front of God’.
‘Then there was this icy moment,’ recalls Blanc, ‘there was this silence, and then the Queen Mum stood up, put her fist on her heart, and she sang La Marseillaise in perfect French. I nearly became a royalist on that day.’ He was surely lucky to keep his head after that example of regal mansplaining.
Not all recent associations with Windsor Great Park, the current home of Prince Andrew, are positive. But top divorce lawyer Joanne Edwards has fond memories of the Family Law Bar Association conference, which takes place just a stone’s throw from the Duke of York’s £30 million home, Royal Lodge.
The Forsters partner tells one of my hoglets: ‘On the Sunday morning, if you choose, you can go to the chapel where the Queen worships when she’s there.’ After the service one year, Edwards came face-to-face with Her Majesty. ‘I just started talking to her,’ says Edwards, noting that in the heat of the moment she somehow forgot the protocol of staying schtum until the Monarch initiates a conversation.
Edwards moved to introduce William Tyler, a barrister friend of hers who had taken silk only that week. ‘I tried saying to the Queen, “This is William Tyler, and he’s just become a QC.” But midway through that sentence, I thought, “How does one say that to the Queen?” Do you say “QC”? Do you say “Your Counsel”?’
Edwards needn’t have worried. ‘I tripped over my words a bit, but bless her. She totally understood, offered her congratulations and nodded at him.