During the recent TUC anti-spending cuts protests in London, some protesters 'occupied' Fortnum & Masons, a department store that's been a Piccadilly institution since 1707. Reports suggest that it wasn't a violent protest, and in fact customers and people taking tea in the cafe went on with their business during the whole occupation. Fortnums is one of the last great bastions of the great British stiff upper lip.
It's pricey now, it's not one of those stores that has spread out and multiplied like your Marks & Spencers, there's still just the one store, occupying six floors at 181 Piccadilly. Fortnums started life as a very distinguished grocer and it serves much the same role today. It's expanded into other products, but their foody sections are still the most enticing – they do lots of brilliant best of British produce, probably the largest range of jams you ever did see, and it's got one of the world's most celebrated tea shops on the premises.
Rose Petal Jelly - who'd have thought
But the thing that's kept this old lady afloat all these years, and this store, with it's pale aqua and gold trim is certainly a lady, is it's good taste. Both as far as taste for things that are tasty goes, and taste as in doing things 'the right way' goes. Fortnums has had a royal warrant for ages, and there have been many occasions where Fortnums has supplied a whole banquet to the palace. And if anyone knows what best of British should taste like it's the royal family.
Their windows are always perfectly dressed and if you receive one of their wonderful hampers as a gift you know you're onto a good thing. Make that a very good thing.