Peter York & Olivia Stewart-Liberty
Cooler, Faster, More Expensive: The Return of the Sloane Ranger (Atlantic)
Conspicuous for their vast, inherited wealth, public school education and cushy jobs in the City, Sloanes (aka ‘rahs’, ‘yahs’ or ‘upper class twats’) represented a cultural phenomenon in 1980s West London, all of which was captured by style guru/author Peter York in 1982’s The Sloane Ranger Handbook. Times have changed since then, though, and so has the Sloane: forced to evolve or die by the 1986 ‘Big Bang’ (the deregulation of the City) and Diana, Princess of Wales (who moved the Sloane goalposts – or rather croquet hoops – forever) the group remains, albeit in a variety of new guises. We now have Turbo Sloanes (jet setters), Bongo Sloanes (pseudo-hippies), Eco Sloanes (à la Prince Charles) and Party Sloanes (à la Tara Palmer-Tomkinson).
Or, at least that’s the case according to management consultant York and his double-barrelled author-journalist chum Olivia Stewart-Liberty. A pair of regular darlings themselves, they’ve compiled the all-new semi-satirical Sloane ‘Guide To What Really Matters’. Which might be quite funny were it not for the fact that a) being plastered over every gossip magazine from OK! upwards (this book actually resembles a distended magazine feature), Sloanes are these days hardly the exotic creatures they once seemed; and b) it is only semi-satirical, and comes across as genuinely functional in parts (the extensive directory for one).
Chavs getting a break from being the butt of class related piss-takes is certainly a positive thing, but with the book essentially representing one big, smug in-joke – by, for and about posh people – it’s difficult to laugh along. Unless you’re a Sloane yourself, of course.