Tag Archives: Scooby Doo

Soho Farmhouse

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Once upon a time, the privileged were lonely.

They were forced to huddle in their 80,000 square foot properties, looking at pictures of each other in Hello!

Now there is a place where they can go and ignore each other in the flesh.

That place is Soho Farmhouse, the not-in-Soho, not-so-country-bumpkin latest addition to Nick Jones’ brace of stylish leisure centres for non-hipsters with a party pulse.

Belonging here is serious business. It’s not uncommon for the Aspirational to kill founder members and wear their skin, in the way Hannibal Lector might if he once worked in media, but now lacked the clout for his application to be seconded by a Lord.

There’s a swell of anticipation on the approach, down roads only visible through Celine prescription sunglasses. Based on the feverish development underway, you glimpse a Soho Gloucestershire on the horizon; one field’s being prepared as an underground propolis city for Cowshed toe cream.

The car park would square up comfortably to a premiership footballer’s front drive, motoring prize poodles lined up cheek-to-jowl sporting ‘my other car’s a helicopter’ stickers. You’re not sure where best to slip in: apparently, a Maserati drops £20k in value every time a Honda stops alongside.

Ah, but when your feet first connect with that socially-rich soil, can it matter how you got there? If there’s no-one from security chasing you down at 5 mph in a sleek buggy, then you’re IN.

It feels rather special to gain access to a member’s-only fiefdom in a county where ordinary people get electrocuted for using the wrong paint colour- like being rubbed all over with insulating smug butter.

The mix of exclusivity with wholesome fresh air is so destabilising, for a moment you fear you might forget to ‘check in’ on your iPhone.

Regardless, it’s important to betray no elation while gliding around these grounds; smiling here indicates you are having a nervous breakdown and heading straight back to The Priory after your weekend release. Or, worse, that you are very, very grateful to have a friend to bring you along.

I stand on the path and drink it all in, feeling very, very grateful.

It’s a phenomenon less country club, more urbal settlement (that’s an odious little truncation of urban and rural).

There are wooden cabins and outhouses and gyms dotted all around, like a 3-D avatar village for aesthetes who eat artisan tempeh and remember Playschool.

There’s a small lake with boats and steam rising from a cool, heated outdoor pool; bicycles to borrow while the Bentley rests; outdoor sofas with cushions in faultlessly-nice colours; log pits burning; table tennis tables; snooker.

You can go ice-skating or film-watching or people spying and unless you pass a mirror you could up-end every nook and cranny, and you wouldn’t see one solitary unbeautiful object.

God week-ends here, occasionally riding around in an SF vintage-style trap pulled by one of the horses, trying to look like a feature film director.

And entertainment’s not the end of it.

There are stores that offer an opportunity to replicate this perfection at home- delicacies, and dinner jackets, and Elephant’s Breath plants.

Everywhere you look- every turn of the maze you take- tastefully-displayed premium quality wonder goods are available for purchase. The entire premises is, in fact, 100% bullet-proofed against naffness. (Note: Farmhousers don’t find naffness funny; they let their nephew get on with that in Dalston.)

Inside the main food hall, the honey-hued hum of success emits.

Whether gained through fame, hard graft, good looks, or good luck, money is talking.

These are people who live life in capital letters. Their hair is Hair. Their coat is a Coat.

They look at you a fraction too long, in order to conduct on your body a Terminator scan of social relevance.

When they see that not only are you not Amal Clooney, but you’re also not Kelly Hoppen, you have to absorb the disappointed-dismissive balancing essential oil mix that’s sweating from their newly-massaged bodies.

The food is amazing. The service is amazing. Everyone’s shoes are amazing.

There’s a woman with fluorescent teeth playing boules and a comedian having lunch as if he’s just a regular guy who needs to eat. Children in cashmere wellingtons are being chased around the courtyard by Cara Delevigne wearing a Scooby Doo onesie. What, will Angelina’s lips soon be booking themselves into the cinema room with copper mugs of Moscow Mule?

Where are all the real people? your head spins. ‘Take me back to Kansas.’

Then a teenaged member of staff with spots and a local accent asks if you left your antibiotics in the bathroom and- crypes- it’s really happening, after all.

Like squeezy honey or penicillin, Soho Farmhouse is so necessary you wonder why it hasn’t been invented before.

The answer may lie in the Soho Empire expansion strategy, which mirrors the life stages of an adman: Central London in his heyday (chop ’em up); stints in the States (can I powder prescriptions drugs?); wife and kids in Chiswick, with weekends at Bab house (did you bring the viagra?) whoah, still got it! in Shoreditch (mdma bombs): enjoying his career spoils in the countryside (how could you even suggest it? Oh go on then, rack me up a Cheeky); keeping it real/ feeling a bit shot, tbh, in the Bush (weak tea, 2 Candarels).

Soho Beachhut’s planned in for Bournemouth 2030: ermine-trimmed zimmers and a Soho Font ‘Bowling Alley’ sign re-housed from another location, with the ‘alley’ blacked out.

I wallow in the glow. I never want to leave. Life at Soho Farmhouse is too damn good.

But I falter. Do I belong? With my fake Hermes bag, and unmanicured nails, and my hair that is just hair.

Then it dawns on me. If there’s one thing that fabulous needs more than fabulous, it’s an audience.

So I complete this daydream on a gorgeous sofa in front of the fire with my own (more quietly) fabulous friends.

Drinking jasmine tea, and wondering whose skin would fit me best.

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Sleeping

Sleeping is at once a necessity and a luxury. Being a restorative, unconscious kind of activity makes the lack of it more newsworthy than the doing of it.

It divides people into two camps: those who need a lot of it and those who don’t approve of it.

People who think they love sleeping are really saying they are monsters without it. They relish it for the reason that they find it exhausting to be ‘on’ for too long.

It is only a good idea to hang out with them if they are at a stage of their lives when they are able to drive in 12 hours every night. If they are about to get stressed or have a baby, run from them like the wind.

People who say they don’t like sleeping are generally boasting about their energy reserves, like a diver telling everyone how little oxygen they use. They feel guilty if they are caught with their eyes closed and lie copiously to cover their tracks if they have accidentally snoozed.

They are liable to be found slumped in a chair with a book on their chest, a foreign-language C.D on repeat and chicken stock burning dry on the stove.

When the two species get married they spend their lives blaming each other for being inconsiderate/lazy until they reach 70 and neither of them ever leave the bedroom unless to fetch a digestive biscuit from the kitchen.

Insomniacs get more sleep than everybody, spending large swathes of time in bed for fear they may miss the 3 minutes they believe they grab randomly. They see nothing suspicious in the large amounts of saliva that have dripped from their gaping, snoring mouths during their 12-hour sleepathon.

Bad sleeping habits can break a new relationship, from snoring, bed hogging and restlessness to sleep-talking, sleep-walking and recurrent nightmares.

No matter how much your date nodded enthusiastically when you talked about your favourite hobby, you might have to kick them out of bed for farting, quite literally.

There are as many different qualities of tiredness as grains of sand on the beach. At one end of the spectrum you feel like a weary cat ready to curl up next to the fire. At the other, you get a strange taste in your mouth and hallucinate about wiping out your family with a pick-axe.

Whether it’s the heavy-headed fogginess of a broken night or the neurotic, unclear thinking that results from workaholicism it is an advantage to be able to describe imaginatively the resulting misery, in order to distinguish it from that of pretenders who are clearly perkier than you:

‘I was so tired last week I lay down under the grapefruit section in Tesco in nothing but my pyjama bottoms’ will impress other Mums and get you more sympathy at an NCT meeting.

New mothers pretend that adrenalin and love for their baby override their desperate lack of shut-eye when actually it’s just the basic biology that their hearts are still beating. If they thought they could find an easy way to turn these off they’d fling the baby out the window immediately.

Like baking, sleeping is a precisely calibrated pursuit, involving the right temperature and correct measures of a pleasant environment and calmness. Mess with them and it all comes undone, at least partly explaining the other-worldly look of shift-workers and cabin crew.

Sustained body-clock tweaking ends at Sleep Aid City, where lives pills, potions, whale music and tapes that take you in elevators down, down, to the bottom of your consciousness. Getting out of bed and finishing a bar of Lindt chocolate is equally ineffective but immeasurably more enjoyable.

There is a point in most people’s lives when they realise their bed could be hotel quality if they went out and spent seven thousand pounds correctly equipping it. They order million thread count sheets, revise scientific tables of duvet tog values and press pillows stuffed with the hair of eskimo boy babies, failing to realise that a large part of the attraction of hotel slumber is to do with the fact that a young maiden whisks the sheets away to be laundered daily.

Should this epiphany persuade them to start ironing their own Extra King-Sized sheets and decorative European pillow covers, try to be their friend until they re-discover the plot.

A dream is your head careering around in a Scooby Doo van with its eyes closed. Of course it’s going to be ‘weird’ and deeply uninteresting to anyone who isn’t living in your brain. It is the embodiment of matter over mind, helpfully unraveling all the laborious work you have done during the day to try to forget painful things.

Many people are staggeringly unversed in the basics of dream symbology and will tell you quite happily in detail the next day how they killed you with a machete, as if it didn’t originate from their own evil brains.

Not being able to get off to sleep and oversleeping bring equal misfortune. The former leads your soul down dark paths via sheep while the latter leads others down it, carrying with it a whiff of impropriety, if not alcohol (and possibly sheep).

Ultimately, a decent night’s sleep is often all that divides the agony from the ecstasy in waking life, yielding one golden rule: if you stop a person from getting it or wake them out of one, it should only be for a very good reason.

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