Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Cantabrigian Bridesheadonism


The past three days have afforded this Young Fogey such an array of social distraction that he has been unable to attend to his usual routine, which includes blog-writing. However, with the return of normalcy, normalcy being relative (and in the case of a Young Fogey far from the norm), I am now able to provide a brief synopsis of my recent activity.

On Saturday I found myself in the sublime surroundings of Cambridge University. The purpose of my trip had been to attend the Golden Jubilee Banquet of the Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society ("CUHAGS", pronounced "KEW-HAGS"), a warm and welcoming society of scholars and enthusiasts who together comprise British academia's finest collection of correct form adherents.

My three guests for the evening were David Lumsden of Cushnie, Garioch Pursuivant to the Countess of Mar; Hugh Macpherson, Esq., of the Heraldic Porcelain Company; and Captain H. Caulder of the United States Air Force (all pictured here).

Prior to attending the main event my guests and I called upon Peter Avery OBE, a Fellow of King's College and an internationally recognised authority on Persia. Having arrived at the University in 1958, Mr. Avery shall celebrate his Cambridge Golden Jubilee next year and is one of the few remaining Fellows to have a permanent residence within the elegant King's College Gibbs Building. In the comfort of his rooms, we enjoyed fine wine and fine reminiscences.


The weather was perfect and as we strolled to the banquet reception, which was held in the Scholars Garden of Clare College, we smiled for the various tourists who deemed us worthy of a holiday snap. The reception was lively and all were in good spirit. Those attending included four members of Her Majesty's College of Arms, (Garter King-of-Arms, York Herald, Somerset Herald and Bluemantle Pursuivant) and various other respected heraldists and scholars some of whom had travelled from the United States and Europe.



The CUHAGS banquet, which was held in the Great Hall, was a splendid occasion and we were treated to a superb musical interlude. The highlight of the evening was the presentation, by Garter, of a grant of arms to the Society. The speeches were enjoyable, although it would be remiss of me not to note that one speech raised more than one eyebrow...on no fewer than three occasions.






CUHAGS dinners always provide one with the opportunity to catch up with various old friends and this evening was no different. The dinner carried on well past 11pm, following which a number of us continued our evening elsewhere, finally retiring at around 3am.


On Sunday, following a rather unpleasant alarm call, I was up and ready for Mass, following which I joined various members of the Heraldry Society in the Great Court of Trinity to hear the College Choir. At midday on the final Sunday of the academic year the Choir sings antiphonally from two of the towers in the college's Great Court, with a brass ensemble performing from the third. Over 200 of us stood and listened to the exquisite sound. This was the second consecutive year of my attendance and it shall not be the last. I was subsequently joined in the quad by David Lumsden and Hugh Macpherson, both of whom had been invited to partake of a snifter in another Fellow's rooms and arrived at Trinity after the choir's descent.





At the previous evening's banquet a friend had introduced my party to a sound Cambridge undergraduate, by the name of Gwilym Ap Evans, who informed us that he would be hosting a small drinks party the following afternoon (June 10) to celebrate White Rose Day, the anniversary of the birth, in 1688, of the so-called "Old Pretender", also known as "James III and VIII". As Lumsden, Macpherson and I are Royal Stuart Society Council members, we were warmly invited to attend. Thus did we find ourselves unexpectedly munching canapes and quaffing free-flowing champagne on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the delightfully secluded and tranquil surroundings of St. John's Fellows Garden. We enjoyed meeting various kindred spirits, most of whom sported white roses in their well-tailored lapels, and discussing all manner of reverent and irreverent subjects before bidding our host adieu. The dean, by whose kind permission the event was made possible, extended his kindness by escorting us to the gates.



Leaving the carved and manicured glory of St. John's we made our way to King's College to say goodbye to Peter Avery, who invited us to take a turn around the Fellows Garden and then sit on the grass outside his window on the ground floor of the Gibbs Building, on the corner nearest King's College Chapel (pictured supra). As I looked out out at the punts floating gently on the Cam and listened to the bell summoning one and all for Evensong I recalled the words of William Ernest Henley:

"Life is good, and joy runs high
Between English earth and sky"


At 3:25 we crossed over to King's College Chapel for Evensong, following which we collected Mr. Macpherson's car from Jesus College and returned to London (stopping off at Regent's Park for a short walk around Queen Mary's Rose Garden) and to impromptu dinner and drinks in Pimlico at the kind invitation of Mr. Macpherson, where we were joined also by my good friend Richard Carruthers, who was returning home to Vancouver the following morning.


I lapsed into the arms of Morpheus at 1am on Monday and rose at 7am in order to attend a pre-arranged morning engagement in Westminster. In the afternoon I joined Mr. Macpherson and another gentlemen, of Jermyn St., at the Rivoli Bar of the Ritz Hotel for Bucks Fizz following which we took luncheon in the Ritz Restaurant. Feeling quite merry after our excellent lunch, we continued to the Carlton Club to meet a good friend, a purveyor of fine Russian icons, and enjoy a cigar and a glass of port. I left the Carlton in the late afternoon and sauntered around Jermyn St., purchasing shirts and some ties.

Crossing Regent St to make my way home I bumped into a cousin whom I had not seen in two years. We ventured into a near-by coffee house and brought each other up-to-date on our recent activities. Parting company an hour later we agreed to meet up soon again. It now being 6pm I was in no mood to do battle with the headless hoi polloi on the subterranean railway and so I called upon two recently relocated New Yorker friends, now living in Covent Garden, whom I knew to be dining in Soho.

I left them at 7:30 and headed on to a small cocktail/dinner party at a friend's flat in Knightsbridge. My host's neighbours were enjoying an al fresco soiree and had hired an accomplished pianist and a string quartet for the occasion. Of this we were the unexpected and most grateful beneficiaries as we were able to dine to the accompaniment of the soothing sounds of Mendelssohn, Franck and Schumann.

Sound sleep had evaded the Young Fogey the previous three nights and, having enjoyed an excess of decadence, he offered his apologies and left early, returning to Chateau Fogey at 11pm to sleep the sleep of the innocent for the first time in several days.


(My thanks to Antti Matikkala, former President of CUHAGS, and Capt. H. Caulder for sharing their photographs)

17 comments:

Scott said...

Writing from Mr Waugh's college, I congratulate you on what Beaverbrook might call a "hog-whimperingly" splendid night.

Rafal Heydel-Mankoo said...

Thank you. I'm not sure whether our degree of merriment rose to hog-whimpering levels but certainly several sheets were affixed to the breeze.

Cato, author of www.toryheaven.com said...

Oh my, what a three days, I am reeling from just reading of all the events. If only I were still a young gad-about!

Cousin Jasper said...

Bridesheadonism?! But... everyone knows Cambridge is a dump!

Scott said...

It is but a poor, dim, echo of Oxford, I agree, but be sporting about it: remember it's rude to point or mock in public. And they can't help it.

Young Fogey said...

I'm afraid that in terms of heraldry (which is, after all, the subject of this post) Oxford plays second fiddle to Cambridge. Cambridge has long provided a steady stream of heralds for the College; and a casual glance at the last few decades reveals that, herald for herald, Cambridge has Oxford soundly trumped!

Mark said...

We let them win that. Charity.

Er...

David Broomfield (CUHAGS Committe) said...

Oh Rafal, "an augmentation to the Society's armorial bearings", it was a grant of arms to the Society.

A splendid evening and one enjoyed by all who had the privilege of attending.

As for the Oxford comments did not Mr Waugh describe that place as "submerged now and obliterated so quickly have the waters come flooding in"?

Young Fogey said...

Thank you David. My egregious error has been corrected -- I must say that I am surprised to learn that a 50 year old Society of heraldists had not petitioned for arms earlier!

Chris said...

I believe he was prophesying the ravages of global warming, there. A well-known progressive on such issues... Warning about the rising tides etc. Er...

And not the grumpy, gaseous, revolting stream of buses on our streets morning and night.

I have just gone down from Oxford - literally four hours ago - so am still a fierce partisan, despite its plague of omnibuses.

Remember that Cambridge abolished a number of ancient traditions - subfusc white-tie for exams and so on - that still persist in Oxford. I think the traditionalist far more comfy in our city, as long as he avoids the High.

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