Season’s joy: Cellist is forced to breastfeed in the car

Season’s joy: Cellist is forced to breastfeed in the car


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2014

Katherine Jenkinson, cellist of the Aquinas Piano Trio, was booked last week to play with her group at the Oriental Club in London’s West End.

oriental club

The club is one of those crusty relics of empire that cling to the London scene by dint of a wealthy membership and a book of rules that makes the old boys feel distinguished. Katherine, to her dismay, fell foul of one of the club’s rules.

katherine jenkinson

Katherine has an 11 week-old baby, Olivia. She turned up at the Oriental Club with Olivia and a baby-minder in the reasonable expectation that they could stay in her dressing room during the concert.

Not a chance. The club bye-laws, Katherine was told, refuse admission to children under the age of 12. No exceptions.

The Aquinas Trio performed Haydn G Major (Gypsy), followed by Saint-Saens from their recent CD. The second half was Mendelssohn C Minor.

During the concert, Katherine’s baby-minder had to walk Olivia around Marks & Spencer. In the interval, she brought Olivia to be breast-fed – not in the august premises of the Oriental Club, but in their car nearby on a freezing street.

Katherine tells Slipped Disc: ‘I’d arranged a second babysitter to be at home with my 4 year old son as I’m fully aware that it is often inappropriate to take children to such events. Does this really apply to a breastfed 11 week old babe in arms?

‘Our dressing rooms were two floors down with beds (prefect for looking after a baby). No sound could possibly have spilt to the concert or other events. I found the way they handled the whole situation very upsetting.’

The Oriental Club describes itself as ‘a Private Members Club with a colourful past and a bright future’. One somehow doubts that, on this form.

We have not approached the club for a comment. Dinosaurs cannot speak.


baby olivia



  • Michael Endres says:

    ”Dinosaurs cannot speak.”
    Some actually can…

  • DLowe says:

    A very valid point, tainted by inverted snobbery at the existence of old clubs like the Oriental. They exist. Get over it. London is a diverse city, there’s room for all sorts of establishment. The Oriental’s attitude on this occasion was wrong, but so is yours. It’s sad as you normally adopt a balanced and moderate stance.

  • GO says:

    I feel sorry that this happened to her, but really, what are clubs but a reason to exclude and to have rules? That is their sole purpose for existence, which makes them kinda sad to everyone who isn’t a member.

    • Will Duffay says:

      If they were decent people, and not self-important misogynistic wealthy parasites, they would have had the manners to have provided a private room for her to breastfeed. It’s not like she just walked in expecting a favour. She had been hired by them. But then, these sorts of people still expect to treat the servants like lower forms of life not worthy of respect or attention.

  • Barbara says:

    Sounds absolutely preposterous to me. Wasn’t as if she wanted to feed the baby in front of the audience.

  • John says:

    …reminds me of a colleague´s joke about the brit who lived several years alone on an island after a planecrash – finally he is rescued and proudly shows the 3 houses he built in the meantime: No 1 the house where I live. No 2 the club where I go, and No 3 is the club where I don´t go…..hilarious story anyway….