Town mouse visits Notting Hill

Over the centuries, poets have dreamt of a Golden Age, where everyone is young and beautiful. Readers, I’ve been there. It’s called Notting Hill. The table on the pavement next to us was occupied by creatures of another world: hair immaculate, teeth perfect, a general level of presentation that did not suggest much familiarity with the Oxfam shop. And that was just the men.

The sunny afternoon was interrupted by a sudden shower-rain does fall, even in Arcadia and we went inside. There, the young mothers might have come from the brush of Raphael. The blazers of their little sons were spotless.

There was a time, not so long ago, when, on the Lord Emsworth principle, the smartest people were the shabbiest. I don’t think anyone in gardening corduroys and scuffed brogues dare venture into this world of chic.

It may be that, in this age of austerity, people feel they have to keep their guard up: not to appear perfectly groomed would indicate that a previously unsuspected canker had penetrated the financial rose. Or perhaps some gilded people are simply immune from economic woe. One watches them like fish in an aquarium, colourful and exotic, wondering if the tank will ever crack.