Albany Resident Edward de Bono speaks to Tyne O’Connell
Edward de Bono and Tyne O’Connell discuss humour in Lateral Thinking at Edward de Bono’s Set in Albany, Piccadilly over tea and cake on Maundy Thursday 2017.
One of my dearest and oldest friends, the iconic Mayfair Eccentric Edward de Bono, author and father of lateral thinking.
“Tell me what I’m thinking and I’ll tell you what you’re thinking!” Edward de Bono
In over twenty years of knowing him he never ceases to surprise me with his stories from his extraordinarily rich life. Both an Oxford and a Cambridge man he played polo, tennis and cricket as he travelled the world speaking at symposiums. He has always cut a line of his own and never lost that sweetness of character that is a signifier of eccentrics worldwide. Over tea and both smoked and wild salmon, in what was once the set of Gladstone, he regaled me with secrets, scandals and intrigues of his own life in Mayfair and the history of Albany which has retained a quintessential feel of the England of days of yore. Tolerance, eccentricity, literature, tea and champagne always flows at Albany.
Entering Albany’s fountained courtyard involves cabbing or strolling through a narrow nondescript passage – next door to the Royal Academy and opposite Fortnum and Mason’s – at the end of which, one is transported into Regency Mayfair in all its thrilling congeniality. The fountain no longer flows with champagne but the furniture, artworks and items of history such as a sedan chair in the entrance take one back to an age when women were transported about Mayfair and St James‘s to salons by handsome footmen.
As my own decrepitude looms, I yearn for a “folly of flashy footmen” and an exquisitely appointed sedan chair lined in purple damask and Ruby buttoned cushions – to whisk me around Mayfair. At present I rely on the strong arms of gentlemen such as Robin Dutt, Daniel Lismore and Pilate Princesses to lug me about like a 45 kilo sack of spuds.
We live in undignified times.
But not at the Albany where one is connected to the reassuring dignity of Regency Eccentricity. Built in 1770 as Melbourne House and transformed into 69 bachelors sets in 1802 for Chaps of consequence by Henry Holland its residents have included Lord Byron, Georgette Heyer, Aldous Huxley, Bryan Guinness and Oscar Wilde’s Ernest Raffles from The Importance of Being Ernest. Chapesses were not permitted at Albany until 1880 though of course as every girl knows, rules are made to be broken hence the secret underground passage at the concealed gate at the end of Albany Gardens which lead to Burlington Gardens and once provided access for “ladies” to visit chaps under the cloak of darkness.
As a girl in Mayfair obsessed by Oscar Wilde it was my dream to have an Albany Set. As yet I’ve only had the vicarious thrill provided by friends such as Edward and John Morgan of Debrett’s – a favourite memory of the 80’s & 90s is returning to Albany through Burlington Gardens gate following an evening at the Clermont or Annabel‘s
and whilst invisible to all those dashing along Piccadilly, Mayfair as it was when handsome footmen ruled the streets, still reigns.
From Regency lodgings to Conversation Fans…. why not read about the fascinating world of Regency Fans