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Places that inspired scenes: Blacks

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

If you’ve read A Class Act, you will no doubt recall the club that Marcus takes Lottie to mid-way through the book, which marks a turning point in their relationship. The club in the book is called Blacksmiths and is located in the City, around the corner from Liverpool Street station and Bishopsgate police station. Blacksmiths doesn’t exist in real life but the inspiration for it certainly does, in the form of Blacks, a private members club in Soho and one of my favourite places to hang out in London.

It took me a while to find Blacks the first time I visited, because, as is the case with most private members clubs in London, the entrances are incredibly discreet and easy-to-miss. Once through the door, Blacks sweeps you up into its Georgian townhouse glory and whisks you into a world away from the busy streets of Soho.

The townhouse was built in 1732 and was once home to Charles Fortnum of the famous London department store Fortnum & Mason (which also makes an appearance in A Class Act, when we first meet Arizona!) Blacks Club itself was created in 1992 by Tom Bantock, a famous Norfolk poacher, as an antidote to White’s Club, London’s oldest gentleman’s club. Rumour had it, many members of Blacks had been rejected from Whites, and over the next 20 years, Blacks would become known as a ‘louche’ bohemian drinking den. (My kinda drinking den!)

Walking into Blacks is like walking into a Dickensian novel, with wood-panelled walls, wing-backed armchairs, blazing fires and hidden nooks. It is the private members club of choice for London’s most curious creatives, and the most perfect setting for the emotionally revealing and poignant conversation Marcus and Lottie inevitably had to have.

"No-one paid much attention to the investment mogul and his soon-to-be-fired protege as they seated themselves beside the inglenook fireplace, which sizzled contentedly. Marcus rested his eyes on her. The room was dimly lit with just a few wall sconces, some artfully positioned candles, and the glow from the fire. She could feel the warmth of desire rising within her, but she was utterly torn. On the one hand, she felt like the most special girl in the world, sitting here alone with this beautiful man, with his undivided attention and those entrancing eyes drinking her in. On the other, it was torture. This had to come to an end, and soon. Then she'd never see Marcus again."

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