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Friday 16 July On Wednesday night, in a private Mayfair gambling club called Aspinalls, a group of society faces from the past 30 or so years were gathered together for dinner, and had fallen to remembering old times. They met 25 years ago, in another Mayfair gambling den, the Clermont Club, which had been founded and patronised by men who thought they were going to transform Britain, rousing it back to colonial greatness from its post-war socialist torpor.
They would gamble wildly in gracious rooms and plan business schemes to bring them the wealth and power they imagined they deserved. The old Clermont crowd that was gathered in Aspinalls this week did not look a great deal like the pioneers the club had dreamed of in those days. Among them was Dai Llewellyn, court jester of the Nigel Dempster column, Victor Lownes, a ex-Playboy supremo, with his former centrefold wife, and moving august online mother of a Tatler babe who has just married the son of Jimmy Goldsmith.
They weren't even dining at the Clermont, and they very seldom do any more; the Clermont is owned by a large, anonymous corporation, and favoured by oil-rich Arabs. The Mayfair casino landscape has changed out of all recognition since ; the high-rollers at the tables are almost exclusively foreigners, and the directors on the boards are now men whose names nobody can remember. A Clermont member confided that he had been in the club recently and seen a croupier reduced to tears by an offensive gambler; the staff had shrugged, and said: We whore, whore, whore - it's the name of the game.
If they'd said it when John Aspinall owned the place, they wouldn't have been chucked out for saying it. It's nothing like that now. John Aspinall is in the last stages of terminal cancer, and his presence in the corner of the dining room on Wednesday night cast an ashen, morbid gloom over the party. What has roulette winner software to his beloved club, founded with such aristocratic exuberance, is a measure of how far the social and economic landscape of the country has changed.
Ironically, the very changes which have taken place were largely the outcome of the actions of the Clermont's own bucaneering early members. The Mayfair Set, a BBC documentary series starting this Sunday explores how Goldsmith, Slater, Rowland and Sterling were all instrumental in transferring power from old British industrialists, politicians and mandarins to the giant global financial markets dominated by shareholders, corporate conglomerates, and oil money.
All came unstuck one way and another, confirming the establishment's suspicion that they were pirates who lacked respect for British tradition. Nevertheless they successfully defined what we now know as modern global economics - the very economics which have transformed the Clermont. The rules men like Slater decided to break, when he took charge of old family businesses, were replaced by business rules more powerful than indivuals like Slater could ever again be.
If the original Clermont set were defined by one quality, it was a reckless taste for taking risks. John Aspinall, its founder, opened the Clermont Club in A fast-living set, betting extravagantly with inherited money, now hard a permanent and lavish home at 44 Berkeley Square. He lost the money in two nights. He sold his farm and paid up.
According to a young socialite of the day, Una Mary Parker, the Clermont was acquiring a reputation as a fast and louche "alternative court" where young tycoons and old aristocrats were gathering. More importantly, members like David Sterling and Tiny Rowland had found a home of like-minded right wing ideas.
Byhowever, the business was losing money. The aristocracy's old money was running out, but Aspinall refused to entertain new money, in particular the new money of the Middle East. Lownes lives in a spacious house of Belgrave Square and is every inch the former Playboy man. Antique furniture is lined with books about erotic art, and as he rumples through mahogany drawers looking for a book about the Clermont, he comes across some old photos.
She has legs up to the moon and a startled smile. We made them feel very welcome, and we were delighted to have them, whoever they were. We'd paid for the club within six months. But when Lord Lucan went missing inand the feverish attentions of the press descended upon clermont club, it became an increasingly inhospitable environment for the old Aspinall crowd. A friend of Lucan's talked to the press and was promptly blackballed by Clermont members such as Jimmy Goldsmith, whereupon he killed himself.
But the Pokies secrets set was being blackballed in public minds, identified as the symbol of a no longer acceptable world where an upper crust criminal like Lord Lucan could be defended by wealthy friends, clermont gambling regarded breeding as above justice.
The Playboy era was then fully established, and the Seventies era of Clermont became a Hefner-esque flourish of bunnies and parties and celebrities. The roll call of famous names gambling at its tables was a fairly accurate register of every star who passed through London, and Lownes' country house parties became the stuff of Playboy legend. No, more than ! Wednesday's dinner followed the leaving party of a Clermont manager who had worked there since Playboy took over. A gatecrasher would not have guessed they were among casino land's elite; the men wore cufflinks, the women wore well-preserved blondeness, but it could just as easily have been a jewellers' get together.
Everyone spoke wistfully of the good old Playboy days - "Oh, the stories we could tell! Unfortunately, the Playboy era was also a period of vicious battles involving Ladbrokes and the Gaming Board. Ladbrokes posted spies outside the Clermont, who would pass the number plate details of customers to police insiders who kindly give their addresses in return; the customers then received elaborate incentives to transfer their custom. Lownes pointed this out to clovis nm gambling Gaming Board, and Ladbrokes casinos lost their licence, but then Lownes himself became the subject of an investigation, and Hugh Hefner - in a panic about Playboy's licence - promptly sacked him.
This didn't save the Playboy licence, and in it was removed. The Trident corporation bought the club, but in time it didn't suit their portfolio, and in it was sold to Best way to make money in roulette Leisure plc.
The accountants take over, and it becomes a bit corporate. That's the way the Gaming Board likes it - anonymous. Eventually, a Rank Leisure spokeswoman confirmed that they had bought the club inbut refused to say another thing. The club needed window dressing - aristocracy or famous names, so that the people with the big money feel that they are somewhere really exclusive.
Clubs these download pokies games don't seem to be able to afford window dressing any more. On the very odd night, you can go in the Clermont and there'll be a few lords, and it's like the old days. A club founded on the aristocratic idea that British gentlemen could do whatever they wanted - and indeed, should do whatever they wanted, in the spirit of Britishness - has become instead a symbol of how little power they now have.
When I roulette machines not random the Clermont, it had the cool hush of an operation controlled extremely efficiently by large computers behind screens. The building is achingly beautiful, but it is not easy to conjure up the picture of a baby chimpanzee at reception. I'm telling you, six women in one night at least! That was nothing, believe me.
Some nights Sex and gambling politicians have 15 or Do you remember so-and-so? Oh yes, she had an affair with such-and-such. Wasn't she married to him? No, that was her sister! But I thought she was dead.This was John Aspinall's Clermont Club in Everyone knows that gambling is a dodgy business and that the bookie always wins, yet for. With a rich history stemming from the earliest days of casino gaming in London, the Clermont Club continues to be one of the most sought after. The Clermont Club is one of Britain's finest private gaming clubs. Its discreet yet opulent home in Berkeley Square offers a refined, intimate haven where.