With a tip of the hat, a toodle-oo, and his catchphrase saying – “Live lucky!” – for over fifty years, Porter Riley bid good day to the great and the good of London from the doorway of The Dorchester.
But whilst he wished nothing but luck to his guests, it was a series of unfortunate events that led to his employment as a porter in the first place: his adored mother, Grace, died giving birth to her seventh son; his wife, known as floozy Florence, left him for a dock-worker; and – the bitterest of blows – his father’s celebrated leather factory in Bermondsey was razed to the ground during a particularly heavy night of bombing in WWII.
A lesser man may have succumbed to various vices to overcome his grief, but Riley was a rare breed: a gentleman and a gentle man, he was loved by all and loathed by none (even floozy Florence couldn’t find fault with the husband she’d left heartbroken).
And so, despite his skills as a tanner and leatherworker, he came to find himself as a porter at The Dorchester – the landmark London hotel overlooking Hyde Park. Though bemoaning the loss of the family business he was set to inherit, he went about his new job with characteristic charm and cheer, and, on his first day, was handed a playing card by a patron: the ace of clubs.
“Keep your cards close to your chest and luck will come calling”, the man remarked.
He was never sure why but, for over fifty years, Riley kept the club card in his pocket until, on his very last day, that same man returned. “We must play a game!”, he exclaimed, before ushering the porter into a seat in The Promenade. Though neither a gambler nor a drinker, Riley was a good sport and, four hours later, found himself poised to take the final make or break turn. Just before he flipped the card over, his companion rose, shook his hand, and bid him adieu.
“Don’t you want to see if you’ve won?”, asked Riley.
“The result was already written in the stars”, he replied.
Today, we celebrate the craft and character of Porter Riley with our collection of luxury leather goods that make ordinary life that little bit more extraordinary.