Nicky Haslam is my top role model. A silver fox at 84, whose handsome face has mysteriously aged backwards over the past decade, Nicky has never been ashamed of facelifts, hair dye or leather trousers. This forthright style guru is totally convinced he’s right about everything. In Nicky’s world, it’s his way, or the wrong way to do things. The biggest snob on the planet.
In a world of beige people, personal ‘safe’ spaces, no-meat meals and hot yoga classes where trendies pay a lot of money to stare at a complete stranger’s sweaty bottom, Nicky stands alone against the overwhelming tide of blandness.
This grand interior decorator (he’s worked for every top rock star from Jagger to Rod, Ringo and Bryan Ferry) also earns a crust as a wicked columnist, specialising in pithy putdowns of anything he finds naff about modern life, from scented candles to airline pyjamas, and horrible phrases like ‘happy place’. Yes, yes, yes!
Hilarious and utterly unconcerned about causing offence, Nicky Haslam and his rabid snobbery are a source of never-ending delight. His rules about what’s ‘common’ run contrary to modern etiquette, where everyone seems so concerned about being woke and not getting cancelled.
Once a year he causes huge upset in fashionable circles by producing a seasonal tea towel, listing what’s ‘common’ (his ultimate insult) from book clubs to baby showers, coloured bath towels to Ed Sheeran. I’m not sure whether it’s an honour or a form of social condemnation to be included.
This grand interior decorator (he’s worked for every top rock star from Jagger to Rod, Ringo and Bryan Ferry) also earns a crust as a wicked columnist, specialising in pithy putdowns of anything he finds naff about modern life
Money saving expert Martin Lewis demonstrated a lack of humour by leaping onto social media to complain that this year’s Common list included the word ‘grief’, describing Mr Haslam as ‘a total twat’- which he swiftly sanitised by changing to ‘prat’.
I think Nicky means that droning on in public about grief can be over-rated and even narcissistic, but there no doubt his choices can cause upset if taken seriously. For snobs like me, though, the Common Tea towel (or drying-up cloth as posh people term it) is the perfect present for anyone you’d like to offend for Christmas, available by post for £40 or £45 if signed.
The clients Nicky has worked for (royalty, Rothschilds and various Ruperts) probably never do the washing up, but this humble item is something to treasure and hang on the wall. It lists, in no particular order, everything that Nicky finds annoying, from the hollow jargon of Instagram poseurs and influencers (‘a pop of colour’ for example) to fashionable modern cultural icons like Grayson Perry and his popular wife, Phillipa Perry – who seem to pop up on every TV and radio channel.
This year, Nicky has singled out the Prince and Princes of Wales, for their bizarre habit of dressing the entire family in various shades of dark blue. Are they any more stylish than much-mocked Coleen and Wayne Rooney and their family of K kids all dressed in matching leisurewear?
According to Haslam, the Wales family are hoping to convey ‘a calm upper classness- which is so dull’. He reckons that in the past, the Royals wore exotic clothes, not the bland styles that William and Kate seem to favour today. He has a point: Princess Margaret was never one to shirk an over the top ball gown, and Diana spent a fortune on ‘revengewear’ with shorter and shorter skirts and daring off the shoulder eveningwear.
The Common Tea towel (or drying-up cloth as posh people term it) is the perfect present for anyone you’d like to offend for Christmas
This year’s Common List (the fifth) includes Aperol – a drink every trendy bar serves, even though it tastes like cough mixture crossed with lavatory cleaner. Then there’s ‘Your brownies recipe’- do we ever want to know how to cook a slab of chocolate goo? Having a ‘bucket list’ makes the cut, as does crystal coffee sugar.
Yes, yes, yes! And (like Nicky) I hate work place phrases like ‘let’s unpack that’ and illiterate public safety announcements which treat us like children – ‘see it, say it, sort it’ (2022 Common List).
My work mates at Loose Women think I am a horrible snob. Do I care? Not a bit. Nicky Haslam and I could have been separated at birth, our tastes are so similar.
I sneer at ready-made sandwiches, refuse to wear a jumpsuit, and would never utter the words ‘happy place’.
If I’ve been ‘on a journey’ (what a shallow phrase) it’s taken by train or plane, not a plunge into my inner thoughts.
I might come from working-class parents, but spent years as a child believing mum and dad had picked up the wrong baby from the maternity unit. I was convinced I should be living in a posh house with a butler who pressed my clothes and ran my bath each morning. But as I’m not, I’ll live my life sticking to my very particular rules, just like the blue bloods.
This year, Nicky has singled out the Prince and Princes of Wales, for their bizarre habit of dressing the entire family in various shades of dark blue
The clients Nicky has worked for (royalty, Rothschilds and various Ruperts) probably never do the washing up (Pictured left to right: Saadiya Khan, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Dame Joan Collins and Nicky Haslam attend British Vogue’s Centenary gala dinner at Kensington Gardens)
Nicky Haslam (L) and Queen Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall, attend Fortnum & Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon for the launch of Tom Parker Bowles’ book Let’s Eat Meat on October 21, 2014 in London
I’ll never consider myself common because I’ve got style and taste (at least I think so) and I don’t care what anyone else might say. Patterned jogging bottoms, logos on handbags, ponchos, beige high heels, and fascinator hats are disgusting. Years of writing about fashion have left me with a horribly long list of what I consider naff, from charm bracelets to cowboy boots worn by any sex.
As for food – anything with a dribble on it. Ingredients piled in a stack with a chive on the top like a propellor, and any food served in bowls. I’m not living in a Dickensian orphanage or eating gruel. Bowl food equals slurry in my book.
Doormats with welcome slogans, dogs wearing coats or even hankies around their necks, poor loves. Dogs must be dogs, not dressed as mini humans on four legs.
Nicky reckons Wimbledon is now common – and he’s right. Who are these people in the Royal Box? It’s become like the cast of East Enders, full of folk who don’t know one end of a tennis racquet from another, who all bugger off for drinks and tea in the middle of a big match.
Strawberries have become common, according to Nicky, and I know why. They’re too big, too brash, over-sized and tasteless, available from January to December, no longer seasonal or special, the fruit equivalent of Gemma Collins or Made in Essex jumbo mega-white teeth- dazzling onlookers and looking spookily unnatural.
Nicky also lists ‘skinny laartays’- a drink which will never pass my lips. Surely it’s an espresso, or a simple black coffee?
The modern way of telling us where every item on the plate was born, grew up, and got watered must be due for retirement soon. I don’t need a CV or map of organic farms in the UK to have a decent supper.
I’m a proud snob, even if it’s cost me a few friends.
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