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Arriving on an island off Cayo Jutias, north-west Cuba (March 2016)

With reference to the rather ridiculous, vainglorious photograph of me above (chosen by Harry not me!) I remember with phenomenal fondness this blistering Cuban blue sky day. We had driven a couple of hours on a rum fuelled bus from Vinales, a beautiful and remote part of Cuba where the world’s greatest tobacco is grown, to a sea peninsula in the middle of nowhere. From there we took a couple of small boats to an uninhabited island for a lobster beach barbeque. I am standing in my landing gear feeling like Columbus facing a gorgeous talcum powder, coral beach. Everything including the fantastic Cuban band playing beneath the palm trees had been shipped out that morning and had never been done before. There is not room on this page for the words to describe that perfect day, but God was it fun! Soon we returned to the civilization of Havana and non-stop lunches, bar rendezvous’ and dinners, culminating in the weeks highlight The Habanos Cigar Festival Cohiba Dinner.

It is amazing how Cuba has survived, with dignity and fortitude intact, after 57 years of US embargo, but it sort of has. There is nothing quite like it. The Cuban people are second to none, the architecture and landscape simply amazing, the culture and music totally inspiring and of course the cigars are sublime. If you have not been you should go (see www.esenciaexperiences.com).

In the UK and Euro zone we have comparatively insigni cant problems, but clearly everything is relative. Although it is worth remembering, that we have overcome even more intransigent circumstances in the non-too distant the past. Read Giles MacDonogh’s article about Germany in 1946. From those ashes the EU as well as the strongest economy in Europe was born. Boisdale Life has six excellent thought provoking essays on the subject of the European referendum arguing both in and out. We should all have complete respect for both sides of the argument. There are too many variables for anyone to be comfortably certain of the outcome either way.

To my simple mind, all the facts suggest that we should leave Europe. However, the thought of 15% of global GDP falling into a period of uncertainty and disagreement, whilst each nation attempts to procure economic advantage out of the situation, using moral high ground as rhetoric, is unthinkable. How long could it all take to unwind: 2-6 years? Europe would probably fall apart during the process which would bring us to another level of economic disaster with untold violent recriminations between and within the nations that once made up Europe as we descend into an abyss. Call me lily-livered but I think the world is just too vulnerable. If things slow anymore the endemic global

debt issue, as illustrated by Ross Leckie (p51) will devastatingly break the surface and could, through a growing lack of con dence and a downward economic spiral, scupper the far from admirable ship we all sail in. Somehow at the moment we are a oat and the longer we are, the greater the chances of us reaching the economic stability we desperately need. It is the emotional response and the bureaucratic nightmare which frighten me most. In terms of UK assets I fear most for the City. Our global nancial sector competitors will be unable to resist feasting on the whole debacle.

That said our ambition has always been to take the diverse and entertaining conversations from our restaurants and bars (Boisdale owns three restaurants in Bishopsgate, Belgravia, and Canary Wharf) and articulate these views in print – whether this be politics, economics, lifestyle, food and drink – or indeed interviewing our patrons themselves. Some of our contributors (who are neither directly briefed, nor edited) have chosen to tackle the insidious activity of the state to both manage our freedom and sanctimoniously formulate the orthodoxy by which we should live our lives. Christian May, Editor of City AM seriously questions growing restraints on our freedom of speech and William Sitwell compellingly, demands more booze! We passionately believe regardless of where the argument falls, in the right of the individual to express his or her opinion. After all, the conversations in our restaurant and bars would be very boring, without a little debate!


Ranald Macdonald
Editor-in-Chief Boisdale Life Magazine Founder Boisdale Restaurants & Bars