Read the Halifax report and it's like a different country from the rest of Britain. Of course, the district was always renowned as part of the Stockbroker Belt. "The truth is that 97 per cent is a domestic market of reasonably wealthy people," he says.Elmbridgers have better school results, lower crime, better life expectancy, at 81.4 years, better employment, with a preponderance of over-a-grand-a-week workers, more room in their houses, better weather. Then in the Seventies, it became the Rockbroker Belt. "It's a London market outside of town." Indeed, there's a bourgeois arc of transcendence: west London, then Esher/Elmbridge, then a village near Guildford when the kids leave and slippers go on.
"You really do see the Aston Martins in Waitrose car park," Pam confirms. At night, it's different, glossier." Pam says she "can't afford to live in Esher myself" but confides that there is a degree of celebrity rubbernecking, and that she sees David "Kid" Jensen regularly. It's apparent that kitchens are important to Elmbridgers. Stylish and comfortable." He leans over, and quietly explains the eminences of the various characters at the bar – they all turn out to be City brokers, this being a weekday.
They live off Poggenpohl and Gaggenau, and the social action is concentrated around the granite island, necking Taittinger. Some ladies who lunch saunter by, on their way to the George – signature dish: lobster linguine – which is where I've been told the aspiring WAGs go to chat up expensive chaps over raspberry mojitos. "If you put my Sunday lunch customers together they could probably hold Brazil to a draw." Still, he adds, the famous are happy in Elmbridge because they don't get hassled by the seen-it-all inhabitants.
Elmbridgers also like media rooms, smart lighting systems. Here I meet Jonathan Dunne, a local entrepreneur, who has an Esher hotel and another pub called the Albert Arms, which betrays its top-endishness by selling no fewer than 38 wines. He whizzes me out to see a place that has recently shifted for £12m.
Dunne has just developed some £1.3m town houses behind the Odeon on the High Street and, unlike much of the country, is optimistic. "It's hard to beat living in Esher." As it turns out, Dunne has even had a word with Beverly Hills about some kind of twinning arrangement. "I spoke to a guy from Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce." He's waiting for him to get back, but it's already become part of local folklore. We agree it's nothing special, but that's not the point, is it? "That's the thing." I then go down to Oxshott and Cobham.
Each one's got an acre or so, separated from the others by walls and foliage. Houses from the Fifties are often pulled down to be replaced by new mega-pads and the big developer is Royalton.