News Archives: view stories from Year One of the Club (October 2006 to September 2007), Year Two (October 2007 to September 2008), Year Three (October 2008 to September 2009), Year Four (October 2009 to September 2010), Year Five (October 2010 to September 2011), Year Six (October 2011 to September 2012), Year Seven (October 2012 to September 2013), Year Eight (October 2013 to September 2014) and Year Nine (October 2014 to September 2015)
To see many splendid daguerreotypes documenting the Club’s antics, click here.
News Archive: Year Five
Mrs H. Delivers Pearl of a Lecture
7th September 2011 Mrs H.'s much-awaited lecture, simply billed as "mollusc-related" turned out to be about mother-of-pearl. This precious substance has been used decoratively by mankind on all manner of things, from furniture to weaponry to musical instruments. Mr H. dutifully displayed his cufflinks and his removable collar-stiffeners, both made of the substance. Yet, mother-of-pearl is also of scientific interest in that its lightweight, yet very strong, lattice structure might be an ideal substance for such things as aircraft components, if only our boffins could succeed in synthesising it.
Club's Summer Party Celebrates Sea and Tea
27th August 2011 The New Sheridan Club's summer party celebrated the great British seaside holiday! The venue was the suitably traditional Tea House Theatre run by Members Grace and Hal Iggulden, and we offered games including one that involved guiding a seagull to steal from a bag of chips, recreating the sinking of the Spanish Armada and of course a knobbly knees contest.
The evening culminated in our traditional Grand Raffle, the top prize of which was a pair of tickets to see Betty Blue Eyes, the 1940s-set musical based on the film A Private Function. We also featured our free Snuff Bar, kindly supplied by Wilson's of Sharrow, and we even had our own sticks of rock, in Club colours with "New Sheridan Club" written through the middle. (These are still available at just £3 for a strikingly chunky stick.)
We also had a film crew with us, following Scarheart for a UKTV documentary about how different groups of Britons celebrate.
Thanks again to Hal and Grace and to all who came, and congratulations to all our winners.
Scarheart Saves the Day Yet Again
3rd August 2011 Our speaker was scheduled to be Caroline Taggart, who was going to address us on the subject of her book about the origins of English place names. Unfortunately I discovered two days before that, while the PR from the publisher had enthusiastically accepted my proposal back in February, it seems she never got round to communicating it to the author herself, and then promptly forgot all about it. However, the Committee's own Artemis Scarheart — already a hero for winning overall gold at the Chap Olympics — then entered mythology, and several primitive pantheons, by offering to step into the breach and deliver a lecture on his most recent expedition, explaining how he risked his health, reputation and even his very sanity to travel upriver to see just what lurks in that heart of hippy darkness that is The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. We heard of the joys of the camper van, the hazards of Chinese fire lanterns, the sheer vastness of the site, the healing power of drink and Scarheart's own personal journey as he attempts to discover a form of music that he actually likes. His experiences are being serialised in the NSC monthly Newsletter.
Club Shines at Chap Olympics (But Sun Doesn't)
16th July 2011 This day saw the annual celebration of rakish élan and langour organised by The Chap magazine and featuring silly games designed to test competitors' credentials as a gentleman and cad. This year saw many new events, such as Butler Baiting (where butlers must vie to dress their masters, dashing back and forth from a suitcase of clothes), ironing board surfing (where a team carry a surfer around the course on an ironing board—miraculously there were no broken bones) and Gentleman's Club Golf, where a walking stick is used to knock a bowler hat into a net, as well as the return of Moustache Wrestling, a surrealist bout where two hirsute contestants attempt to pluck a single hair from each other's moustaches using only a plastic lobster.
Every year it threatens to rain on the Chap Olympics but we somehow always just get away with it. But not this year. Although it did stop raining at times it was fundamentally very wet indeed. In fact it was a tribute to the pluck, grit and fortitude of London's chappist demi monde that so many people turned up and braved the downpour. In a rare moment of foresight, the NSC had actually invested in a marquee (Gustav Temple, editor of The Chap, had allowed us an official Club presence), which provided a conveniently waterproof shelter.
I think that Gustav's concession was largely in recognition of the major role played each year in the games by NSC Members, and true to form the overall Gold Medal was taken this time by our own Artemis Scarheart, Member of the NSC Committee, Scourge of the Weak and Defender of the Rich, while the Silver Medal went to the Vintage Mafia, a gaggle of ladies that includes NSC Members Fleur de Guerre and Bethan Garland.
History's Most Down-at-Heel Emperor Revealed
6th July 2011 At our July meeting Isabel Spooner-Harvey introduced us to a much-loved figure from her home town of San Francisco, Emperor Norton I. Despite living in a flophouse, the self-proclaimed emperor, who reigned in the 1880s, endeared himself to the populace to the extent that policemen saluted him and businesses fed him for free. In fact many of his "policies" were remarkably forward-thinking for the era—for example at a time when the Chinese community were subject for racial attacks, Norton preached tolerance and equality. He died of a stroke in the street, while being hailed by some of his subjects.
Once again we were also visited by a television crew, this time a team from Firecrackers Productions making a documentary about How Britain Celebrates for UKTV (I'm guessing for the Blighty channel). They seemed much taken by what they saw (see the cameraman lurking in the image above) and interviewed a number of the Members present.
Club Once Again Plagued By Nazis
1st June 2011 "Chuckles" Younghusband delivered a polished a fascinating talk at our June meeting on Hanna Reitsch, the pioneering aviatrix and fearless test pilot—surely a suitable subject for heroine-worship? The only problem was that she was also an unrepentent Nazi. Chuckles' talk was not only full of hair-raising anecdotes and fascinating facts, but also embodied the philosophical question of whether the negative aspects of Hanna's life and personality should cancel out the laudable ones. It was interesting to see who in the room was willing to raise a toast to Hanna at the end…
Club Given a Lesson in Pyschogeography
4th May 2011 At our May meeting Mr Robert Kingham, a friend of Captain Coppice’s and a guest to the Club, treated us to a talk on The “Grey Soul” of London. Although presented with slides, this was actually based on a walking talk that had been commissioned from Mr Kingham by the Museum of London.
“He who cannot find wonder, mystery, awe, the sense of a new world and an undiscovered realm in the places by the Gray’s Inn Road will never find those secrets elsewhere,” said Welsh author and mystic Arthur Machen. “It is a district both devious and obscure, and I suppose that its twisting streets and unexpected squares of dusty trees will all come to ruin before they are intelligently explored.” Attempting to prevent this seems to have been Mr Kingham’s starting point.
Mr Kingham previously performed Align at the Museum of London, “a hallucinatory journey along a straight line through the psychogeography and myth of London”.
Royalty on Trial as Nazi Sympathisers
6th April 2011 At our April monthly meeting, after some problems getting the computer to talk to the projector, the Earl of Essex was finally able to embark on his thoroughly researched exploration of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor: Nazi Collaborators or Misunderstood Patriots? He presented us with all the evidence and encouraged us to make up our own minds, though given that the Duke continued to be pally with the Nazis even after we were at war with them suggests it's clear where his sympathies lay—and he evidently felt betrayed by being obliged to abdicate and leave the country.
Fr. Michael Enters the Media Lion's Den
March 2011 The Club's own Curé Michael Silver graced the nation's TV screen in March, but not delivering theological ponderings or indeed discussing ecclesiastical architecture or religious music—instead he appeared on ITV's dating show Take Me Out. I have to take some responsibility for this because last autumn the producers of the show contacted me to see if any NSC Members would be interested in taking part, as they were getting a bit sick of all the 23-year-old fitness instructors who usually entered. I tried to think of a few rakish types who might relish the opportunity and, when they declined, I idly mentioned it in a mail-out to the Membership at large. It was only some time later that I discovered that the Curé had actually taken up the offer and been accepted. The show, for those who have never seen it, has a panel of 30 single women, before whom a series of men are paraded: they indicate their approval or otherwise as the man gradually reveals more about himself. If any are still interested by the end of his spiel then he himself must choose one of them and then jet off on an exotic holiday, at the end of which they are usually heartily sick of each other. Anyway, Michael ended up with two women keen on him so he was forced to do "the most ungentlemanly thing of his entire life" and pick one. The holiday was, in his words, "more larks than sparks" but he and the lady are still friends.
WAAF's Wartime Adventures Unearthed
2nd March 2011 At our March Club Night Mrs Maria Hackemann gave us a very personal talk about the life of her grandmother, from the time she ran away from home at 17 to join the WAF, the various men she went out with, and her subsequent life in civil aviation. These are all things the old lady didn't reveal while she was alive: but she wrote it down in journals for Maria, who presented her talk with photos from family albums.
Club Scarf Available
1st March 2011 The indefatigable Charles Tsua (Charles Henry Wolfenbloode on his good days) has been in touch on the subject of a New Sheridan Club scarf. He has been in correspondence with Ryder and Amies who can supply such scarves individually for £33—but if we order ten or more this price drops significantly to £21.50 inclusive of delivery and VAT. I’m sure among all our Membership we can muster ten cold necks in need of stylish comfort. If you’re interested, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member Mucks in to Do His Bit
1st March 2011 The New Sheridan Club has a small but potent Membership in New Zealand (all both of them) and our own Dr Leavingsoon (aka Bernard Shapiro) has been doing extraordinary work to help those worst hit by the earthquake, piloting his Second World War Willys jeep around the region to ferry supplies and establish the worst-hit areas—and identify looters—and relay this information to the authorities. He has also been leading groups of student volunteers to help the clean-up and his reports reveal that simply surviving the quake itself is just the beginning: there are now 75,000 people without sewerage, food or fresh water. One of the biggest problems seems to have been liquefaction: the vibration of the quake allowed water to rise up through the area’s sandy soil to create a muddy sludge that in some cases burst up through roads and floorboards rendering them unusable. This, mingled with sewage from ruptured pipework, has had to be shovelled and carted away and, as it dried, created a dust hazard. I had a Facebook chat with Bernie and, as he typed, he was experiencing aftershocks that were toppling shelves in his home. Selections from his recent dispatches appear in the March Newsletter
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Obituary: Andrew Downer
17th February 2011 Andrew Downer became a member of the New Sheridan Club quite by accident. As part of the Club’s tobacco-infused “Last Gasper” party marking the ending of indoor smoking in July 2007, a few members got together to sing some close-harmony smoking ditties. The problem was we didn’t have a tenor. Luckily I knew of one who was a good cove and also had the excellent qualification of being a smoker too. Therefore Andy was arm-twisted into the New Sheridan Quartet, not before becoming a member, of course! But alas, he couldn’t take part in the Last Gasper owing to ill health, so the Quartet performed at both a monthly meeting and the Christmas Party later that year. By this time, Andy had struck up a relationship with our very own Miss Hartley from the Quartet, and they married in October the following year—arguably the first wholly NSC wedding. Although Andy did not attend many NSC events, he was much liked by all who met him. His unfairly brief innings is a great loss to Rachel, the Club and all who knew him. Capt. Coppice
Andrew Downer, actor, producer, film crew agent, singer, musician, all-round good egg, born 26th May 1972, died 17th February 2011.
Ladies Night Declared at Club Meeting
2nd February 2011 To a packed house (probably the second biggest turn-out after Miss Minna's famous talk on stylish vampires, to which all the vampires in London pitched up) Sara Bridgman-Smith entertained us with a thought-provoking look at the strong women behind three famous men: Isabel Burton (wife of the eccentric Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton), Joy Davidman-Lewis (wife of brain-box God-botherer C. S. Lewis and easily his intellectual equal—their games of Scrabble allowed words from any language and in a childhood IQ test she measured off the scale) and Eleanor Roosevelt. In practice we didn't learn anything about Eleanor, as Sara admitted she hadn't been able to find much much useful gen—it seems "she and FDR just weren't that romantic, though his live-in mistress may have spoiled the mood a bit". Instead she offered as a prize a hefty tome on the subject to the person who could most accurately guess how many pages it had.
Tales of Louche Excess Bring a Tear to the Eye
20th January 2011 The first NSC Film Night of the year took place on 20th January and our feature presentation was Bruce Robinson’s decadent 1987 classic Withnail and I, the superficially inconsequential tale of two unemployed actors who become depressed by the poverty and drug-fuelled paranoia around them and retreat to a Welsh farmhouse belonging to the uncle of one of them. But far from a rural idyll they find suspicion from the locals and a lack of urban amenities. Then come the night-time sounds of what they assume is a murderous poacher breaking into the house. The final revelation is less deadly but a more profound betrayal that seems to prompt the inevitable.
We were going to show a short documentary as well, but in the end we were treated to an introduction by Miss Minna, who pointed out that, despite being highly quotable and very funny, this is also a very sad film, and an obvious parallel with Shakespeare’s Henry IV—with Withnail as a Falstaff who expects the partying to last forever and Marwood (“I”) as the young man growing up and feeling the need to
move on and take on responsibility. An almost imperceptible backdrop to the squalor and hedonism is the genuine frustration the actors feel with a lack of work; but their attitudes to their opportunities emerge as quite different, and finally Marwood gets the break which will take him away, leaving Withnail with only a bottle of wine and wolves for an audience.
Boys in the Hoods
5th January 2011 Charles Tsua gave us a thorough and highly-informed talk on academic
dress—gowns, hoods, caps and habits—the origins of it, how the syles vary from
university to university and degree to degree, and how they have changed,
taking in some whacky concepts from Cecil Beaton plus a healthy dose of rivalry
and sniping within the field. There were plenty of examples to see and fondle
and Charles gave us handy tips on how best to wear the garments. You can see a
few daguerreotypes here.
Club Tie Immortalised on Television
13th December 2010 The
New Sheridan Club’s distinctive black, red and silver neckwear sneaked on to an
"ident" for Sky Sports this month, thanks to thespian Member Callum
Coates. The film takes place in a fictional gentleman's club and Callum brought
a couple of ties on to the set to play the role of club ties. You view the
video by clicking here.
Club Celebrates the Moderne
11th December 2010 The New Sheridan Club’s Christmas party was an Expressionist Ball to celebrate the Modern Age with all things avant-garde, a smorgasbord of Surrealism, Expressionism, Vorticism, Orphism, Dadaism, Futurism and many more of your favourite isms. In honour of speed, machinery, electricity, mighty cities and all the other modern inventions of man that will surely make the Twentieth Century an idyll of comfort, ease and universal harmony, we offered a blend of live performance, drunken revelry and silly games—a Shoot the Lobster Off the Telephone competition, a “Dear Dada” random agony aunt service, a priest-dragging contest, a Surrealist Lucky Dip, and of course our famous Grand Raffle.
Performing were juggler Mat Ricardo (I say “juggler” but most of what he did was actually feats of balancing) and Suri Sumatra’s dance performance based on the 1927 film Metropolis.
Once again our renowned free Snuff Bar was in evidence, kindly supplied by Wilson’s of Sharrow, and our raffle prizes included a hat from Atelier Millinery, tea from The Canton Tea Company, a voucher from tailors A Suit That Fits, plus bottles of delicious SW4 gin—“The Gin of Champions”—and the Un Chien Andalou Prize of a straight-razor shave from barber Murdock of London.
The dress code was simply “avant garde”, and the interpretations we witnessed
ranged from 1980s “futurism” to fashionable Steampunk concepts, with much more
besides... See more pictures here.
Fat Lady Sings, Eventually
1st December 2010 After a
maelstrom of technical difficulties in getting the laptop to handle the strange
file formats our speaker had brought along (and which saw him dashing home to
fetch another computer), at our December meeting Sean Rillo Raczka eventually
managed to tell us why he loves the work of Richard Wagner. This is a
particularly salient question for leftist firebrand Sean, champion of the
underdog, defender of the common man and paladin of justice and
equality—because Wagner was clearly anti-Semitic, even if not as viciously so
as the Nazis who “appropriated” his work. The same question was recently
agonised over on televison by Stephen Fry, and he’s Jewish himself. Sean argued
passionately that one can and should separate the beauty of the artwork from
the ugliness of its creator’s views, even perhaps views he might have had in
mind as he created. More pictures.
Screen Icon Remembered
3rd November 2010 Mr Ronald Porter of the National Liberal Club came to give us a talk about The Life and Times of Her Serene Highness The Princess Grace of Monaco. From a privileged background, Grace Kelly moved easily into an acting career, becoming a favourite of Alfred Hitchcock (who later admitted he had been more than a little in love with her), and, perhaps surprisingly, just as easily into the life of the wife of a head of state, when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. There were rumours of affairs with all kinds of people, from David Niven to John F. Kennedy, but Mr Porter remains unconvinced, having unearthed no evidence for any of these stories—and his picture research was very thorough indeed, clearly the product of a long-held fascination. We were even treated to a slide show of photos from the fairytale wedding, accompanied by the apt song "True Love" from Grace's film High Society.
Our own Princess Diana confessed to being a fan of Grace, and it is intriguing that both died in mysterious car crashes: on 13th September 1982 Grace got into a car with daughter Stephanie—dispensing with the chauffeur, owing to a shortage of space because the back seat was full of clothes, she unusually took the wheel herself. Ten minutes into her journey the car jerked from side to side before shooting off a precipice. Mr Porter told us that the crash was caused by Grace suffering a stroke at the wheel.
Many thanks to Mr Porter for a
thorough and fascinating talk.
Candlelight Club is Born
23rd October 2010 Tonight
a new club night was launched, co-run by NSC Committee Member Mr Clayton
Hartley. Styled on a 1920s speakeasy, the event is essentially a pop-up
cocktail bar, appearing for one night with a different one-off cocktail list
each time. Guests are also treated to period DJing and live
entertainment—Saturday's inaugural event featured stellar burlesque performer
Miss Vicky Butterfly. The venue was an intimate basement den lit entirely by
candles and the limited number of tickets repeatedly sold out even after more were
made available. The next event is scheduled for 20th November: more details at
Silver Screen Revealed as Sartorial Oracle
6th October 2010 Our talk at the October meeting was a delightfully eccentric one. Mr Sean Longden’s playful lecture was based on the premise of seeking sartorial advice and direction from films of the 1930s to the 1960s. For example: “Q: How can I stay cool in summer?” “A: Follow the method used by Raymond Huntley in Passport to Pimlico and keep a one-button cream linen jacket in your office for use on a summer’s day (wearing it over the trousers and waistcoat of one’s three-piece woollen suit).” This particular ruse was being demonstrated by Mr Longden himself on the occasion.
The lecture further considered what sort of characters were portrayed wearing what sort of clothes, and therefore what those garments were taken to suggest about personality and status in the eyes of contemporary viewers. Some of the results were surprising, Tattersall waistcoat—country squire? No, all the filmic evidence suggests spiv and fraudster.
Sean’s teenaged daughter Mary came along to pilot the Babbage device. He frequently deferred to her for some fact or name of a film or actor. I asked her afterwards if she was just as much into the vintage movies as her father and she replied, “No, I’ve just got a better memory than him.”
Coincidentally we were visited (not for the first time) by a television camera crew—our own Curé Michael Silver had been selected to appear on the TV dating show Take Me Out, and they were gathering footage of his, erm, natural milieu. They seemed to be setting him up by having him ask for “chappist” drinks at the bar and then fessing up when given too much change. Cinema verité…