W1 Denizen Guy Shepherd ponders on the ebb and flow of life around Shepherd Market
Article by Guy Shepherd
The ramblings of your jeweller, both literary and literal, stick to the issue of security. Last time, I touched on the heroism of our forefathers in The Great War but I now muse on the present.
I am a lucky fellow. I work in an industry I adore, in an area that enchants, with family who inspire and friends that charm. Reading or watching the news only reinforces this feeling of good fortune. Strolling through Mayfair’s Shepherd Market is always inspiring because it is a place that, as a microcosm, epitomises the polarity of our world. Within seconds of walking past a sensational restaurant like Le Boudin Blanc, one can see the garish pink or yellow hallways that entice another clientele with daubed felt tip signs boasting “Mayfair Magic” or more simply “Beautiful Girls Upstairs”. In the same way, bastions of the establishment slink into 5 Hertford Street whilst, around the next corner, the gutter is awash with the unaccounted begging for their next hit.
In normal circumstances, provided that the philanthropic nature of Londoners continues to shine through, both ends of the spectrum seem to coexist in relative peace. Incredibly rarely, they don’t. I remember just one incident on a beautiful summer’s day when a beggar had clearly had more than enough. I ascertained this because she was lying in the alley outside my elegant shop, her forearms awash with blood, her hand gripping a whisky bottle, drifting in and out of consciousness. Her dealer would sporadically skip back to check that she was still alive. Business was not good that afternoon at GUY&MAX.
The girls in the gift shop next to me were particularly distressed by our new heroin loving neighbour. The situation reached a climax when she broke the grog bottle and began to lick the brown liquid off the pavement, lacerating her tongue. One of the ‘blessings’ of world conflict and politics is that a number of diplomatic locations and personnel are protected by the small minority of British police who are armed to the teeth. The Saudi embassy is on Curzon Street just opposite my beloved Shepherd Market. I ran around to the nearby embassy and hastily explained the situation to the two flack jacketed gentlemen on guard. Within seconds an ambulance had been alerted and one of the policeman accompanied me to the scene. As we hurried along, he very coolly showed me and asked me to verify that the various pieces of artillery that he was carrying were being decommissioned, so in effect he was just a normal Bobby. A minute later, the girl and her transactional friend had disappeared. Business improved again.
Once again I think about how lucky I am; not just because I don’t live in a squat with needles hanging out of my arm but because we have this incredible security system on our very doorstep. These police are highly trained experts in the prevention of terrorism. Luckily for us Londoners, they are excellent at their jobs. When called on beyond their own specific duties, they clearly take pride in our protection. Their regular patrols of Shepherd Market make our shops, clubs and restaurants about the safest in the world. Thankfully, Heckler & Koch machine guns seem to scare the wrong people away.
Not so long ago on a Saturday evening, I was carrying some high value jewellery in a tray to put in our time safe. As I was walking along the inside of the shop, the aforementioned two man police patrol was walking down the alley outside in the opposite direction. We exchanged the obligatory nods and continued on our relative missions. Thinking to myself that I had never thanked them for their local presence, I put my jewellery tray down and raced back to the front door, opened it and honoured them.
“Hi, Chaps. Have you got a second?” They nodded. “Jewellers are particularly vulnerable to crime. I know that you have a far more important remit than this, guarding our Arab brothers and sisters around the corner, but I just wanted to say an enormous thank you because I have never felt so reassured and secure as when you walked past me just now. Thank you.”
One of them smiled slightly, began to raise his machine gun towards me and uttered the immortal words, “Hand over your fucking jewellery.” I never found out from my local dry cleaner whether it was the initial poo from fear or secondary pee from laughter which cost the most to remove from my trousers. Keep up the good work, Chaps! Shepherd Market is a safer, more humorous place and can remain the hidden gem of Mayfair, thanks to you.
Guy Shepherd is a Director at GUY&MAX