08 January 2009

Oxford's Version of the Drones Club

Maurice Baring's flat on King Edward Street was the weekly meeting place for Balliol men in 1897, including one Hilaire Belloc. Belloc and Baring became warm friends, despite the fact that at their first meeting the ever-honest Belloc told Baring (then a Protestant) that he "would certainly go to hell." :
People would come in through the window, and siphons would sometimes be hurled across the room; but nobody was ever wounded. The ham would be slapped and butter thrown to the ceiling, where it stuck. Piles of chairs would be placed in a pinnacle, one on top of the other, over Arthur Stanley, and someone would climb to the top of this airy Babel and drop ink down on him through the seats of the chairs. Songs were sung; port was drunk and thrown about the room. Indeed we had a special brand of port, which was called throwing port, for the purpose ... [T]he evenings would finish in long talks, the endless serious talks of youth, ranging over every topic from Transubstantiation to Toggers, and from the last row with the Junior Dean to Predestination and Free-will. We were all discovering things for each other and opening for each other unguessed-of doors.
--Baring, The Puppet Show of Memory, p. 224