I was first introduced to the work of Archie Curzon, incidentally, in our own Beaver office. He was talking about three things: his rig biz run (where he runs five miles and listens to a business podcast), the various client lunches at The Ned that week and a potential ski trip to Courchevel. At the time he was a relative fledgling to the virtual world of motivation, but has since grown into a dominant force in the spheres of finance and chat. Conflating the effortless wisdom of the privately-educated with the guile of the modern city worker has allowed the CEO of Clapham to extend his influence throughout the SW postcode and over to the dreaded north side of the river.
Indeed, N1 is where he found me on a crisp Wednesday evening. Here, we discussed everything from what to wear when brunching in Dubai, to how Archie might fit in with my own team – the LSE Men’s Football 6s*. Naturally, I was a little nervous. In my three years with the Sport section, I had never interviewed anyone outside of LSE – now I was being thrown into the proverbial deep end, asking myself what will happen if he finds out that I attended school without paying a single penny?
*he claims he would be out of place anywhere but the 1s in any sport, but will give motivational advice to us for a fee.
Seth: First of all how is being a lone wolf in Clapham at the moment and how has your life, with all its expectations, adapted to this adversity?
Archie: Being the CEO of Clapham, I’m never alone. I’ve used this time to be in my area and clean it up. I’m patrolling the Common making sure people are working out in the right way and wearing the right kit (Rugby shorts, a vest and flip-flops). It’s been difficult, but I went to boarding school so I’m used to being in lockdown. As I’ve said before, boarding school prepares you for two things: a pandemic and prison. I’m coping pretty well, I’m maintaining the rig, keeping the economy afloat and I’m strong, I’m strong. I’m just adapting – I’m a fly-half that’s what I do.
How is your pad starting to look as you try and keep occupied?
I’ve had to buy a lot of gym equipment and I’ve cancelled my F45 membership, which is quite a shame because there are some great guys down there. I’ve also had to put my crossfit membership on hold for now. But I’ve bought a squat rack and a kettlebell and turned my office [for AC limited] into a rig centre where I’m working out my mind and my body. I’ll do a quick session and then I’ll jot some ideas down to start a new business. The fridge is stacked with protein and I’m on a strict diet of just broccoli and chicken.
I’m just reading off some of the nicknames people have given you over the years – the CEO of Clapham, Chief Chat Officer-
Those are official titles. When I took over the reigns of CEO of Clapham, I found that there wasn’t anyone really up to the standard of chat that I have for Chief Chat Officer so I assumed that role as well. It looks great on a business card.
-Beer Machine and Prick, from some of your more mischievous rivals. How important are these honours bestowed upon you?
Yeah, well, the prick one that just-
I’m sorry to bring it up as well.
No, no don’t worry. When I’m goosestepping people and leaving them in my wake they normally call me a prick but really I think a lot of guys just wanna be me. Beer Machine is when I’m in Dubai – all the guys there love when the Beer Machine lands for a long weekend. I got that because I tackled through a whole case of Heineken bottles in one sitting without going to the loo, which, actually, in turn I ended up in hospital with quite a nasty urine infection.
But the one that everyone calls me is The Magician – obviously because I make stuff happen on the pitch and on the social scene. If the guys in the Rugby team don’t call me The Magician it’s a stiff two-finger penalty at the end of the game.
Going back to the whole ‘leaving people in your wake thing,’ I recall one time after a game… see I was gonna drop this later on, but I’m actually a footy guy…
Ah. This could be a very tricky conversation. Okay.
Yeah, so I’m with the LSE 6s. In my first-year, we beat UCL 3s, top of the league, 2-1 with a last-second winner. Their goalkeeper afterwards was buying a share-size pack of Quavers for himself and saying to his mates that we were the worst team they’d ever lost to. I told the lads afterwards and they loved it. Do you similarly relish that underdog spirit or is it all about dominating the opposition for you?
Being the Clapham Falcons, who are the Manchester United, or these days the City, of the SW Rugby scene, we relish the fact that every team wants to beat us. They wanna play better Rugger; have better chat; have better rigs. But we’re never really the underdogs – I firmly believe the Falcons could be playing in the Prem. We’ve got some really good guys – one of them actually went to Millfield for three years so that’s the kind of calibre we have. A couple of guys played for Bristol Uni, one guy who’s an Oxford Blue – now that’s for squash, but he’s still a blue. I don’t really allow the team to go in with that underdog mentality. We go in as professionals – obviously we’re semi-pro, but still.
Now, you were a young man once upon a time in your university years, was it as good as a lash gets or do we have more to look forward to when we graduate?
The lash at university was part of a glorious time where the beer and the banter was flowing, but the beauty of moving to Clapham is that it’s very much the same atmosphere. So although that time was brilliant – there were a lot of debaggings, a lot of pissing in pints and necking it – that culture is very much still in Clapham, in Infernos.
We actually have our own mini-version of Infernos, a horrid little spot called Zoo Bar in Leicester Square.
Yeah it’s rough. But a lot of the Rugby boys like to dress up in suits on a Wednesday-
Yeah that’s quite good chat.
I can get on board with it, but what would be your nailed-on outfit for a Uni night out?
I normally, I mean, any fancy dress – 50’s, 60’s, most nights out I’ll go for the 300 look. You know, a very tight pair of budgie smugglers and then topless. When I’ve got my top off and I’m holding a sword and chopping a beer, the girls love it and the guys just think it’s great chat. I turned up to my sister’s wedding in that kit on the second day and everyone loved it. My dad didn’t actually, he asked me to go home and change it. But for that brief period when my top was off, everyone was saying “he’s in great shape”.
You’ve obviously shown yourself capable of responding to adversity outside of Rugby, but when it comes to a difficult loss what’s your chat to the team afterwards? Are you the type of captain to get a round in for the lads or do you berate them and say “pull your socks up?”
Great question – you’ve really got a future in journalism. Look I’m a Rugby guy at heart – I wear flip-flops and Canterbury bottoms and everyone can see how much I love the sport. So when we lose, I point the finger. It’s very rarely… I mean it’s never me – it’s never my fault. I put in a performance in every week, but if one of the guys makes a mistake I’ll make a mental note and address it in the changing room afterwards. I am known to have a few stern words and I use a lot of analogies with the City, which a lot of the boys can relate to as they also have strong basic-salaries and so that’s how I get through to them. I’m not the type of captain to put my arm around their shoulder, but I’ll make them neck a couple of dirty pints and then we’ll head out and all will be forgotten until we get to the training ground next Wednesday. If they fuck up too many times, they can play for Putney.
And I suppose, after some stern words, you can always make up in the smoking area on the night out.
Yeah I’m rarely in the smoking area just because I’m an athlete. I’ll only go if there’s a fine lady who could potentially come back to see the Rig Centre. Then I’ll just put my head round and let her know that I’ll be on the dancefloor – in my 300 kit, but I don’t wanna stay out there because of the fumes.
Well it’s all about marginal gains.
Yeah, yeah. You know I gotta say though, I love that your Rugby team goes out in suits. If you can, can you send me their names after this? I’d love to add them on LinkedIn – they sound like the type of guys I wanna be working with in the future.
I think you’d like them – there are a lot of St. Pauls lads etc.
I think that’s the great thing about university Rugby: you really do bond with everyone over the fact that your parents are paying for your student living and that none of you need a student loan. We really bonded over that and it was great.
Speaking of money, we’re at a point where many of our sportsmen and sportswomen are looking at opportunities beyond Covid-19 and I’m of course talking about securing that Goldman Sachs grad scheme – how do you think grassroots sport prepares you for work in the city and what would you say in that interview when asked about your own career?
To anyone who’s looking to work in the city, I would say that your school really matters; as do contacts – I would definitely be speaking to your parent’s friends. I’m very lucky that my dad’s friend’s friend runs the business that I’m working for, but I worked extremely hard to get that job. So contacts, good school, good chat – I’d definitely also put down that you love Ruggers. I’m not sure about you with your 6s football though – you wouldn’t survive. The city loves Rugby guys: guys who are not afraid to get in fancy dress, have a beer on a Thursday night, go into work Friday and play Rugby on Saturday.
They’re looking for the ultimate uni machine/beer machine, which I obviously am in Dubai. When I’m there, it’s business and pleasure – I’m chopping down the beers whilst making deals and I learnt that at uni. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – the odd Sunday – I’d be necking beers, working out in the morning and playing Rugby to a high standard on the weekend. I’ve taken that into Clapham/the city.
You’ve probably seen SAS: Who dares wins? I think they should do one for the city. Just get lads who are in phenomenal shape, who can handle a few beers/a few pints of piss on a regular basis, work out and still take on some boozy lunches whilst securing clients.
Onto our penultimate question before the quick fire round. You’ve spoken a lot about your very close friend from school Nick Abendenon-
Benders, sorry. You’ve spoken about Benders almost as much as you’ve been happy to criticise Owen Farrell – where does Benders succeed for you where Farrell fails?
I think it was just about the early stages of his career – he had a fantastic lid and he played heads-up Rugby. He’s not afraid to have a bit of chat. Me and Nick are very good friends, I’ve actually got more followers than him now, which I think is why he hasn’t been getting back to a lot of my DMs, emails and texts. Farrell, for me, is too much like a lego man. He’s got a really bad haircut, he doesn’t really speak the Queen’s English – I don’t think they have very good private schools up North, if he actually went to private school. I just can’t see him cutting it loose in Infernos, whereas I can see and I have seen Benders there. Actually me, Benders, Hask, Payno (Alex Payne), Caresy (Danny Care), and a few other Rugby lads are gonna have a massive stag do at some point – I haven’t found a fiance yet – but just a pre-stag where we smash Clapham South, Clapham Common, Clapham North and Clapham Junction all in one big weekend. Then finish up with a sesh at The Ship.
Final question of the bulk of this interview and a quick hark back to my team – I mentioned I was interviewing you and they were very excited-
The football guys?
The…the football guys, yeah.
Yeah okay. I don’t mind football boys – they’re not really my bag, but it could be worse – you could play Hockey.
Well let’s pretend for now that, like me, you went to grammar school and got involved with footy instead… I can see you wincing.
It’s very difficult for me to imagine that, I mean, I’m not an actor – what you see is what you get. But let’s try.
You’re in the 6s changing rooms after a big win-
Can we… can we leave the 6s out of it? I just feel like if I was playing any sport, it would be with the 1s. Can I ask you to pretend that you’re in the firsts? That would really help me.
Okay, let’s pretend I’m in the 1s, we’re playing elite level football, we’ve just had a huge win and we’re in the changing rooms – JC has taken all his kit off, Lacko’s slamming the walls in celebration and The Mule is boogying. Big Bad Bevans hands you the aux cord and says you’re in charge of the music – what tune are you playing first up?
Okay, love these nicknames. It’s hard to believe you guys have that chat – they sound like boys I play Rugby with. Look, everyone knows I love Nickelback so it would probably be Rockstar or anything by Jah Rule. He’s a fantastic musician. But probably Rockstar for the changing room.
So, I’m 20 now – that song came out in 2009 I think?
Actually one of my best years.
Fond memories and a fine choice.
Yeah, yeah – well look if you guys ever need me to come down and give some motivational advice, I’m more than happy to do that for a fee.
Cheers Arch. Now we move onto the quick fire round so just try and answer with whatever first comes into your head. I’ve tried to make it a little difficult.
Gotta be honest, I probably won’t find it very difficult – my mind is very sharp and that’s why I’ve been so successful.
Okay. Country retreat to the Cotswolds or city break to Dubai?
Dubai mate, every time. Fucking love Dubes – have you ever been?
I have a friend who lives out there, that’s the closest I’ve got.
Well I probably know him, or he probably knows me – The Beer Machine. If you do go, get yourself a pair of white chinos, a nice blue shirt and some good boat shoes. Also, a pair of Oakley sunglasses.
Any advice on the fit of the blue shirt?
Tight. I can’t really see what you’re wearing, but what kinda shape are you in?
It’s, it’s not bad. There’s like a tiny muffin top floating above my belt, but nothing major.
Okay – yeah you definitely play 6th team football. Tight-fitting either way and a deep v-neck scoop.
Brunch with Warren Buffet at The Ned or night out with Benders at Infernos?
Benders at Infernos. I don’t think Warren Buffet could tell me much that I don’t know. He’s on his way out and I’m on my way up. I think I’d have more fun chopping beers with Benders.
First drink upon return: Fosters or a gin and tonic?
Slim line gin and tonic. I’m cutting my calories at the moment and I’ve got my fasting down to two and a half days. I’ve gotta say, I haven’t been feeling great but the body is looking fantastic.
Date night at the Dairy or quick day trip to Paris?
Probably Paris – I’ve got a few clients out there so I could do a bit of business and pleasure. I probably wouldn’t go to the Dairy at this point, just because I’ve been on a number of Hinge and LinkedIn dates and I’d worry about bumping into certain people.
LSE or UCL?
UCL. I’ve got a couple mates who went there and I think it’s generally considered to be a better university. The name rolls off the tongue a little nicer too. What Uni is this interview for again?
See, when I think of LSE, I think of a bunch of students doing drugs. And actually, from the fact you’re zooming me from a dark room and that you play 6th team football, I’m guessing you’re probably doing drugs right now.
Well the lighting is unfortunate. As is that answer, I’m sure a lot of our readers will be surprised.
Yeah, well I’ve given you and them something to aspire to.
There’s always a Masters. And to be fair, my girlfriend goes to UCL so I can claim her success by association.
That’s a strong move from you there – I’ve always said to see a relationship as an investment.
Thank you. Well that brings us to the end of this interview. Archie thank you so much for speaking to me and providing the readers with your advice pro bono.
No worries mate – stay safe.
For more advice, follow Archie’s instagram: @lashbanter10