The cost of a smart London lunch in 1931 and 2006
Mr Bookworm's current reading is Big Money by P G Wodehouse, re-published in hardback in May by Everyman's Library. His copy is a Spanish edition published by Plaza & Janes, Barcelona, in 1982 under the title Un Dineral.
Here's a summary of the story I picked up at Amazon UK.
"Lord Biskerton, son and heir of the sixth Earl of Hoddesdon, and known to his friends as Biscuit, had red hair, a preliminary scenario for a moustache and a noble determination to escape the disgrace of work. His friend Berry Conway, however, had succumbed to economic pressure and become the secretary to T. Paterson Frisby, a dyspeptic American who had twenty million and loved every cent of it. When Biscuit and Berry pooled ideas for their mutual betterment, and one idea concerned Ann Moon, Frisby's beautiful niece and heiress, they had to lean heavily on Aunt Vera, an old campaigner in the field of love. How Uncle Paterson was caught short and rushed to cover, while Aunt Vera hedged the market with a double play and salted down two money-making engagements for the House of Hoddesdon, is one of the most irresistible tales of the one and only P. G. Wodehouse."
A page Mr B thought would amuse me is about Biscuit borrowing some money from Aunt Vera to take a girl to lunch at London's Berkeley Hotel. His aunt said the meal would cost £8.10d a head, and if his guest wanted lemonade or mineral water that would be an extra two shillings. Coffee for two would be half a crown. Two shillings would be an acceptable table tip and the cloakroom tip would be sixpence. A total of twenty five shillings would be more than sufficient.
According to this bibliography, Big Money was first published in 1931 by Herbert Jenkins. [The photo of Wodehouse, courtesy of Wikipedia, is dated 1904.]
Measuring Worth tells me that 25 shillings in 1931 had risen to £58.37 by 2006.">"
Today lunch for two at the Berkeley's Petrus restaurant costs £120.