Some of Britain's best-known adventurers and sailors launch Champagne G. H. Mumm's Cordon Rouge Club


To the Royal Geographical Society for a Champagne G. H. Mumm wingding: the inauguration of their Cordon Rouge Club. Some of the best-known British adventurers and pioneers have been invited to be a part of the club, which meets every year to bring everyone together and?well, drink champagne.

Gratifyingly, five sailors who had established world ‘firsts’ were included: Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Ellen MacArthur, Mike Golding, Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson, together with explorers and adventurers such as Bear Grylls, David Hempleman-Adams, Ben Fogle, Ewan McGregor and Ben Saunders.

The RGS showed off some of their collection, including a Burberry hood worn by Shackleton and an oxygen bottle that Sir Edmund Hillary used during his ascent of Everest. In those days, Fortnum & Mason had an expedition department where you could buy oxygen bottles, mosquito nets and the like, and explorers really did take cases of wine, champagne, port and other fine dining luxuries. The men leading those expeditions were used to upper class luxuries.

There was a slight feeling at the Champagne Mumm launch that this has not changed, only modified. Many of the explorers (Bear, Ben, Olly et al) had an air of public school diffidence and a background in the Army, the family business or accountancy. Bear Grylls had a dandyish air and wore a rumpled pink linen waistcoat and trousers.

In contrast the sailors (Mike, Brian, Denise, etc) have come from the merchant Navy, teaching, fire service, although they are the ones usually portrayed in the media as an elite.