Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Peter Boizot’

Charles Dickens at the NLC

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 15th February, 2016

Jeremy ClarkeDickens groupiesCharles Dickens is often thought of as the quintessential Victorian novelist, though his career began before the young Victoria ascended the throne and he died in 1870. There was thus no way that he could ever have visited that most stylish of late Victorian edifices, Alfred Waterhouse’s National Liberal Club (NLC), which was founded in 1882 (though its magnificent premises on the north bank of the River Thames were not completed until five years later)  and to a degree remains a shrine to William Gladstone. However, the Kettner Lunch club — founded by Peter Boizot 42 years ago, originally at Kettner’s in Soho but latterly at the NLC –.has often doffed its cap in the direction of Dickens, but today it offered a special treat in terms of an illustrated lecture on My Boyhood’s Home: Dickens and North Kent by Dr Jeremy Clarke of the Dickens Museum in Rochester. It must be 20 years since I went down to Rochester specifically to see the Dickens collection at the Guildhall Museum and was pleased to know it is going great guns. Even better news was the revelation that Gad’s Hill, Dickens’s rather grand home at Higham, which has for some time been used as a school, may revert wholly to being a place for Dickens fans to make a pilgrimage. Though my own great literary love, Oscar Wilde, had a poor view of Dickens — thinking him old fashioned and at times mawkish — in fact the two of them were the real godfathers of modernism, at least insofar as we now see literature as much about the writer as about the text. Moreover, both were phenomenal self-promoters who also engaged directly with their public. No wonder Oscar was a little jealous of Charles, though I have to day that one’s admiration is somewhat dimmed by the fact that Dickens treated his wife even more shamefully than Wilde did his.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Kettner Lunch AGM

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 18th August, 2011

For 38 years, the Kettner Lunch has been attracting guest speakers from politics, industry and the Arts on an almost monthly basis, originally under the sponsorship of Peter Boizot, founder of Pizza Express and then owner of Kettner’s restaurant in Soho. These days, the Club meets in the National Liberal Club in Whitehall Place, Westminster, under the chairmanship of retired probation officer, Peter Whyte. Memorable lunches so far this year have included an address by the pollster Sir Robert Worcester, the author Colin Dexter and junior Transport Minister Norman Baker. Coming up are the Vice President of the European Parliament, Edward Macmillan-Scott (22 September), the eminent legal authority Lord Carlile of Berriew (18 October), a speaker from the Dollis Hill House Trust (16 November) and the Chairman of the Royal Mail, Donald Boydon (5 December). Membership of the Club is open to people sympathetic to its liberal educational aims at a very modest cost. It was moreover decided at the AGM at the NLC today that the Kettner Lunch club will apply for charitable status in the near future.

Link: http://kettner-lunch.co.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Kettner Lunch

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 22nd August, 2008

Yesterday I attended the AGM of the Kettner Lunch (of which I am a Vice-Chairman), at the National Liberal Club on the Embankment. This venerable lunchtime institution, as its name suggests, used to meet at Kettner’s Restaurant in Soho — which had been the scene of many of Oscar Wilde’s intimate suppers with his dangerous ‘panthers’, but was relaunched in the late 20th century by the Pizza Express and Peterborough magnate Peter Boizot (a generous donor to the Liberal Party and its successor). The luncheon club (what a deliciously outmoded yet splendidly ongoing concept) transferred to the NLC after another Peter, Peter Whyte took over — and it has flourished ever since. Even in 2008, there are not only ‘ladies who lunch’ but gentlemen too. Lord (Alan) Watson of Richmond has agreed to be its new President.

I think a major reason for the ongoing success of the group has been Peter Whyte’s decision to move outside the box of Liberal Democrat speakers to include a wide range of prominent people in public life and service. This has provided eclectic entertainment and indeed instruction — which is why it will be entirely appropriate if the Kettner’s Lunch now transmogirifies itself into a charitable enterpise, as is intended. Events to look forward to in the autumn include talks by Susan Kramer, LibDem MP for Richmond Park, and General Nick Parker.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »