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128 Piccadilly...

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128 Piccadilly...

Old 30th Jun 2010, 19:31
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128 Piccadilly...

....as most RAF officers will know, is the address of the RAF Club.

Having stayed there a couple of times recently, I found a few things rather....surprising. For instance:

1. Hardly any of the staff have an acceptable grasp of English. If you go to a pub in Town, you can bet that Petra from Warsaw will have a better standard of English than many of the current Club staff. Having faced far more serious problems during their service time, many of the more elderly clientele are perhaps too tolerant to complain about this.

2. The Running Horse is supposed to have a last food order time of 2015. Which is absurdly early. However, last time I was there the staff began to close up at 2005; a couple who placed an order at 2007 were told "We no have chips" - what that really meant was "We can't be arsed to cook any as it's almost closing time".

3. I met a guest in the Running Horse, we placed our food order at 1930. Nothing came and the staff started to clear up at 2000... When we asked what had happened, we were told "Computer not work" - and the trainee had totally forgotten our order.

4. The main dining room is expensive and insists on an archaic evening dress code. I don't expect to wear a t-shirt and jeans in the dining room, but is a collared shirt and tie really essential in mid-June?? It is also very expensive - and there is no other option after 2015.

5. At breakfast, the staff are keen to make you sit at a 'Club table' - presumably to save them the effort of having to make up individual tables afterwards. If I'm paying, I think I'll sit where I want, thanks, not where the staff want.

6. I don't know what the 'Please swipe in' sign referred to - I ignored it.

However, the bedrooms - even the tiniest cells - are fine. Another plus point is that Fred is still the ever-efficient chap he's always been.

Am I just being a GOM? Or have other members similar views?
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 19:54
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Originally Posted by BEagle;57833921.
Hardly any of the staff have an acceptable grasp of English.
However one at least of the conceirge staff has a firm grasp of TfL and all about st Clement's Danes.

2. The Running Horse is supposed to have a last food order time of 2015. Which is absurdly early. However, last time I was there the staff began to close up at 2005; a couple who placed an order at 2007 were told "We no have chips" - what that really meant was "We can't be arsed to cook any as it's almost closing time".
Not had that problem but it could be better; much prefered the buttery.

5. At breakfast, the staff are keen to make you sit at a 'Club table' -
but you might get to meet interesting people. Last time I was there Paddy Hine was head of table.

6. I don't know what the 'Please swipe in' sign referred to - I ignored it.
I swipe but Mrs PN doesn't. How many sign in their guests?

Fred is still the ever-efficient chap he's always been.
and you forgot the charming lady behind the bar in the Cowdray Room.

While the charges for overseas guests brings in welcome revenue and a reduction in members' charges, Mrs PN does think we should be shown proper deference and priority. I look forward to my RAF Club "L" tie.



as they only have a XXV tie I shall have to wear two.

Last edited by Pontius Navigator; 30th Jun 2010 at 20:12.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:02
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Not had that problem but it could be better; much prefered the buttery.
As did I!

but you might get to meet interesting people. Last time I was there Paddy Hind was head of table
I presume you mean Paddy Hine? In any case, what's this 'Head of Table' thing? Share a table if you wish, but most people probably prefer privacy.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:11
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In my opinion the place is dying on its feet, it's just a matter of time....

The few times in my RAF career that I tried to book into the club there was no space available. The perception, amongst many junior officers, rightly or wrongly (that's the whole point about a perception, it might not be correct, but that doesn't stop it being held), is that all the rooms are booked months in advance by retired senior officers who the junior ranks just end up subsidising.

Anyway, given it used to be half a days pay to belong, after several years of not using the club, the money I had laid out would have easily paid for hotel costs on the rare occassions that I visted London. Terminating my membership was therefore an easy decision to make, and one I have never regretted.

By the way, what was an RAF officer doing ordering "chips" as part of his evening meal.......or was it a guest?
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:17
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I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
 
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Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
The few times in my RAF career that I tried to book into the club there was no space available. The perception, amongst many junior officers, rightly or wrongly (that's the whole point about a perception, it might not be correct, but that doesn't stop it being held), is that all the rooms are booked months in advance
Indeed you are right and that was my finding too until I cottoned on to the cancellation rules. Book early, cancel late.

Anyway, given it used to be half a days pay to belong, after several years of not using the club, the money I had laid out would have easily paid for hotel costs on the rare occassions that I visted London.
Equally true and it is the MiL who likes the club so much (she is 86) that I keep it up. But the club does offer a better chance of meeting people if you see what I mean. One I met was a WW2 Catalina pilot; last year it was a Hurricane pilot who had been on the Murmansk detachment. Wonderful.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:20
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Corrected.

Head of table was a figure of speech. He was in the window seat of a large circular table. Ben Laite had his back to the wall at another.

Another time I remember Sir Michael Beavis on a table for one; he managed to spin the lid off the marmalade and seemed to expect someone to pick it up and bring it back; they didn't.

Yes, sometimes, like breakfast, I prefer privacy.

Ever been to a pongo mess where you all sit next to each other on a long table?

Last edited by Pontius Navigator; 30th Jun 2010 at 20:43.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:21
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4. The main dining room is expensive and insists on an archaic evening dress code. I don't expect to wear a t-shirt and jeans in the dining room, but is a collared shirt and tie really essential in mid-June?? It is also very expensive - and there is no other option after 2015.
For God's sake man - the club is in Central London; there is an abundance of choice, even after 2015.

Let it go!
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:33
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I agree with quite a few of the opinions above. The place is far too stuffy - and I speak as someone who doesn't mind putting a tie on to go into the Mess bar, even when I was 'living in' over the years.

For example, I stayed in London a couple of years ago to watch some rugby and invited our US exchange officer to come along. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and the history of the place, until he innocently made a very discreet, quiet call on his mobile phone in the foyer. No-one else was anywhere within earshot. The staff reacted as if he had exposed his private parts and abused the Queen whilst dancing around the dining room. I completely understand how mobiles can be a pain, but in this case it was a totally unnecessary fuss about nothing that showed us in a bad light. The dress code is also far too restrictive at weekends.

Other similar clubs are not nearly as retentive. The Marine Memorial Club for example, in San Francisco, is far more welcoming, even to 'foreigners' like us. The RAF Club could be a great place to stay but, as Spike Milligan would have said, it is like an inverted cemetary - the stiffs are above the ground. Last time I stayed, my wife refused to take breakfast in the Club because of the intimidating atmosphere. I have thought about quitting but I am probably too stubborn.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:43
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You need to put these comments on the clubs web site 'discussion area'. The replies from management are equally as 'last century'....

I agree will all of the above Beagle. The grasp of the language and the lack of 'urgency' to PAYING MEMBERS piss**s me off!
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:45
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Originally Posted by Inspector Dreyfuss View Post
The dress code is also far too restrictive at weekends.
Pray do tell?

What would you prefer?
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 20:47
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Chips for dinner and lids on marmalade. Whatever next. Use the Union Jack Club, better class of people.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 21:10
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I suspect that 'chips' was easier for the staff to understand than 'french fried potatoes'... And yes, it was a guest.

Ever been to a pongo mess where you all sit next to each other on a long table?
No, but for ultimate efficiency, I recall when the Wardroom at RNEC Manadon fed and watered several dozen JMC attendees in record time at breakfast. "Would you sit here, please sir? Which of these 2 choices would you like?" - meanwhile about 6 places to the left the choices were being delivered. Incredible efficiency - and yet polite and well-mannered at the same time.

mgd, when you've spent all day working in London trussed up in a suit and tie and have returned to the Club at 1900 for a quick shower before dinner, the urge to go out to find somewhere to eat is often lacking. As is the desire to wear a tie for dinner. Although I accept that it might, perhaps, be different for tourists.

Unfortunately the nearby Greek restaurant which was excellent is now a tapas bar.....
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 06:44
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Although still a member of The Club, whenever visiting the Big Smoke, the Hush Clan tend to stay at the Victory Services Club, just round the corner from Marble Arch. As a serving member of HM Forces, one is automatically a member. The fabric of the club may not be upto the same standard of the RAF Club but is still perfectly acceptable. What makes the VSC stand out though is the staff; they are superb and make every stay enjoyable. They all speak English as well!
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 07:12
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Beags, if you mean the tapas bar in Down Street (towards Piccadilly Circus), I have found it to be a very fine tapas bar!
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 08:20
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Victory Services Club


And there’s a nice proper Lebanese kebab shop just down the road for a midnight snack to soak up the Gin.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 08:22
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I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
 
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If you have not stayed recently you need to book 2 nights. The first night to switch the TV on, the second day to figure out how it works. They are all singing TV/Internet computers - at a cost - although there is still free-wifi and free internet in the study.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 08:30
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All bedrooms now have free Wifi connectivity.

The TV system might be complex - I don't know. I just pressed 'TV' then hunted for a digital channel which actually worked without pict r br ak p or inte mi t nt sou d..... Really, terrestrial digital is pretty dire still - whereas cable or satellite actually work.

I don't know what the little keypad thing is for - has anyone used it? I just used the TV remote.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 09:10
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Ever been to a pongo mess where you all sit next to each other on a long table?
I liked that system when I used to eat lunch regularly in an army mess in HK. You sat in order of arrival so you might find yourself with the colonel on one side and the newest subaltern on the other - great idea, and prevented cliques forming. No choice offered, but as I recall the food was pretty good.

Getting back to the club, Im finding it expensive now and I limit my stays to one long weekend a year with Mrs TTN, which, factoring in the ever increasing membership fees, is not cheap. However sitting in the Cowdray with a Bombay Sapphire and tonic, overlooking Green Park just about makes it worth it. (I concur with PN about the excellent lady behind the bar there)
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 09:26
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London

Many years ago when i was in the RAF. I used to try and book in to the U.J.
But that was nearly always full.
So by a chance i found the Victory Services Club in Marble Arch,
Much Better now the refurbishment has been completed.
It is about 7 years since i was last in the UK.
but i still hold a membership for the Victory Club.
For me it is a lot better and easier in and out of London town.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 09:55
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I have stayed there on occasion, colonial air forces are [allegedly] welcome, although I didn't end up staying the last time I tried to book, in 2006. They didn't bother replying either to my e-mail or letter, so I took the hint and gave it a miss.
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