It was owner of The George & Dragon Richard Battaye and stylist Richard Sloans joint birthday the other day so he held a party at his own pub... where else! If you happen to meet Richard Battaye, and I hope that you do, I’m sure you will sense his immediate likeability. Richard dresses with a quirky causality, jeans and t-shirt, wavy tousled hair with signature blond streak framing his open face. But with a cheeky glint in his eye, there’s a certain air of mischief about the man. When pushed to describe himself he cheerfully explains in most sincere fashion he’s got a case of “multiple personalities”, referencing actress Sally Field (The Flying Nun) and Tears For Fears’ 1985 album ‘Song From The Big Chair’. All this in the space of five minutes…
I pose the question, as you do, ‘is your glass half full or half empty?’ we natter on about this and that, before he pipes up with much giggles “I never give it a chance to get empty”, there’s that glint again. As owner of the notorious George And Dragon pub in Shoreditch, Richard Battye is fundamentally an optimist embracing dips of depression as being quite normal in the greater scheme of things. The George celebrated it’s 7th Birthday last year and Richard is more than happy to let his partner Lilliana run things freeing up some space for him to “poke around” experimenting with his other true love… performance.
Dear reader, I stumbled into the George some years ago, The Lovely Jon Jo and Jonnny Woo were in full throttle, go-going on barrels and creating mayhem to songs you most defently know the words to! Richard is a fan of Fleetwood Mac and a myriad of pop that expresses his tender side.
It was then my luck to pay a visit to Bistrotheque’s cabaret room and witness the show ‘A Night Of A Thousand Jay Astons’. My roving eye rested on the antics of the Jay Aston experiencing an overdose, it was of course Richardette playing the overwrought Aston with brilliant comic timing and total conviction. Tape measure in big hair ‘do’, dressed in a costume rapidly becoming dishevelled, stomping and falling into the role of a tortured popstar as only he knew how, Richardette left me with a lasting impression.
Richard came to London from his native Yorkshire in a roundabout way in the early 90’s, stopping off in Bedford to study for a BA in drama, which he never quite finished he ended up taking bar work at The Red Lion in Hoxton Street before becoming the unlikely nanny to owner Vicky Pengilley's then 8 year old son. Spending his time at The Bricklayers Arms, Richard was one of the first to take advantage of a then desolate Shoreditch. “It was a wasteland”. Nevertheless the appeal of the area captivated him, and Richard was soon to become a fixture with a difference. “The late 90’s was when it happened, a party in The Mother Bar called ‘Popes And Madams’, for this party I borrowed one of Vicky’s gowns, a big blue shiny one… But to begin with I didn’t wear make-up or dresses, I just wore heels, big buggers they were”. And in the third person he adds, “Richardette [his alter ego] would usually appear at the end of the night”. And appear he/she did, in the heels and the hair piled up to serve behind the bar.
From these beginnings Richardette continued to explore his passion for performance and music. Involved with creating Radio Egypt as a collective of alternative artists that has now become quite legendary Richard flung in his usual dollop of community spirit. Even nowadays he describes The George as bit of a drop-in centre and drops in himself to take a turn deejaying on special occasions.
Richard and Kat