Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Peter York : How To Become A Nicer Type of Person

Peter York

Genre: Spoken Word

Venue: Assembly George Square


Low Down

Urbane, sartorial advice from a man who possesses a staggering 600 shirts. Quite why someone needs that many I couldn’t work out, but then he is a leading style guru, albeit one in recovery.


Peter York is a self-confessed recovering style guru. He certainly looks the part, a dapper man dressed in that sort of ageless, fashion defying, double-breasted, pin-striped suit one would only ever be able to acquire (one never merely “buys” these things) from a suave Saville Row tailor. The delicately coloured (presumably silk) pink shirt is carefully offset with a green tie, knotted Windsor style with a degree of precision that underlies his attention to every detail of his appearance, the overall effect completed with a brightly patterned pocket square that no true gentleman would be without.

So attired, this co-inventor of the Sloane Ranger and author of Authenticity is a Con, introduces us to his idea of niceness or at least the things we can do and, more importantly, not do in order to attain this utopian state of being. York’s guide to life explains what to wear, what to say and what to think.

Out goes anything resembling sports clothing, talking about yourself (which pretty much rules out any contact with what those under fifty refer to as “social media, darling”), being “open”, searching for your “inner self” and spontaneity – an enchanting trait in limited doses from children and animals but a harbinger of chaotic tendencies in anyone claiming to be more mature. Self-help gurus come in for similar disparaging treatment from the mouth of one who speaks like a major royal and has the airs, graces and condescending put-downs to match.

But scratch away the veneer of his quaintly aristocratic, hauteur delivery and you’ll find that there is a message struggling to emerge. York’s plea for elegance (in terms of one’s appearance), a sense of refinement and a degree more stoicism in life cuts to the heart of where parts of 21st Century so-called “developed” life are out of balance, namely the desire of too many to talk for too long about themselves, to rebel, to disrupt, to be unconventional. A bit more conformity, a lot more listening and a bucket load more consideration for the needs of others and we’d all be living in a nicer place which would, in turn, make us nicer people.

Amen to that. I just wish there’d been a few more there to hear his message. And that so many hadn’t wandered in half-way through, looking as if they were searching for the toilets. But that isn’t how a nice reviewer should think of others, however tempting it is to do so, is it?