The Canteen for Michael Caine & Marco Pierre White

The Canteen for Michael Caine & Marco Pierre White

Out of Memory series No.2: The Canteen

The Last of the International Playboys.

Go back, set the dial for the end credits of the 20th century. Wealth looked different then, and luxury correspondingly, behaved in a way which would be unrecognizable today. Critically, money could still purchase privacy and privilege could take it easy.

A volatile dream team of David Collins, Marco Pierre White and Michael Caine.

Marco in gladiator mindstate swinging his gleaming Michelin stars like a sword, Michael Caine as a rheumy, calm-faced field general, smiling while the nuclear detonation of Peter Langan raged and tore through Stratton Street in Mayfair. David Collins was approaching that surge of acclaim with an almost vertical ascent of success on the close horizon.

Ego overload in an age of excess. Sometimes the brightest flame burns down the quickest, and all of that.

This was a different Chelsea, some still here, some exists in another place. The first flash of The Canteen caught, eternally, in the retina burn of the camera’s lightning: Naomi smoking and not eating; George Michael eating; Roger Moore transmitting via eyebrow maneuvers to his earlier screen self Sean Connery; Michael Winner and some losers. The usual - not, pray god, the common.

The playing cards that were an emblem of The Canteen proved to be prophetic. A gamble, the short game shark in a pool of long form players: cigar fume; the perma tan; pristine whites; tailored blue; cash; off shore anonymity; having it all.

Had it hung on a few years longer, Cool Brittania could have colonised it.

Once, is how many times I went. Not because I didn’t like it but because I felt out of place. Luxury had higher, and more rigid, fences then. Pierce Brosnan was eating, so was another James Bond. Marco was in the kitchen. His enthusiasm reducing over a high heat. The last of the international playboys.

Bibliothèque Design is a graphic design studio based in East London.

Graham Erickson is a freelance editor and writer living in London.