Invitation to second Byron Society Dinner
We live in dark days. The creative self-expression of those of a Byronic temperament is constantly being circumscribed, nay, fettered, by the puritanical, pleasure-denying attitudes and afflictions of such as the Thames Valley Constabulary, with their Drugs Squad, Speed Traps and Breathalizers, the Revolutionary Communists, Sheep Rights Activists, A.I.D.S., Childwatch, Post-Structuralists and Deconstructivists, the S.D.P., the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, Interpol, bank managers, the O.U. Disappointments Committee, scouts who wheeze into your room at precisely the wrong moment and tutors who insist on seeing you at least once a term.
What has this once-great nation come to? Why should a charming and charismatic press magnate who quite reasonably sacks most of his work force have to face their displays of ingratitude at Wapping, when the situation could easily be resolved by having a representative sample of their number strung up on the nearest lamp posts? Why should a little harmless fun with one’s secretary cost one one’s post as Tory party chairman? Why should one have to run the daily risk of coming across Frank Luntz in the street? … We live in an age where demands on one’s servants hardly in excess of normal duty will send them squealing to an Industrial Tribunal or Magistrate’s Court!
The Byron Society exists to stop the rot. It provides the means (good food, excessive amounts of alcohol and congenial surroundings—the oak-panelled splendour of the Old Bursary) and the company in which the true Byronist can give free rein to his or her deepest instincts in pursuit of the celebration of life, love and laughter (and sod the morning after). Consider the example set by our patron:
By the way, he also wrote poetry—some of it is really rather tedious, but he was probably thinking about something else at the time. Here are a few examples of the more immortalising, death-transcending stuff:
‘There’s not a joy the world can give like it takes away,
When the glow of early thought declines in feeling’s dull decay:
’Tis not on youth’s smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast,
But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere youth itself be past. ’
‘Now by my soul, ’tis most delight
To view each other panting, dying,
In love’s ecstatic posture lying,
Grateful to feeling as to sight. ’
‘Behold him Freshman! Forced no more to groan
O’er Virgil’s devilish verses and—his own:
… Constant to nought—save hazard and a whore,
Yet cursing both—for both have made him sore;
Unread (unless, since books beguile disease,
The pox becomes his passage to degrees);
Fooled, pillaged, dunned, he wastes his terms away,
And, unexpelled perhaps, retires M.A.;
Master of arts! as hells and clubs proclaim,
Where scarce a blackleg bears a brighter name! ’
The first two pieces could broadly be described as lyrical, and the last as satirical (N.B. Those more sensitive readers amongst you will have noticed the slight appositeness of the last example to my own mode of life … in certain details, of course). May they inspire you! For the Byron Society asks that as many of its members as possible compose, as is customary, a truly Byronic piece of verse to inflame the hearts of those present at our romantic-heroic repast. Remember, Byron is today chiefly remembered for his satirical poetry: moreover, the verse read out at the last Byronic occasion was almost entirely directed at those present, and in character approximated to what the Marxist-Post-Meccano-Constructionalist/Semenologist critic Gyorgy-Porgy Vacheturde has classified as "taking the piss".
To conclude, just consider some of the wacky things a few of the Byronists amongst us, or departed and lamented, have got up to:
Finally, I would like to acknowledge that Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley came up with many of the ideas incorporated in this Byronic waffle; without his invaluable help, it would probably have been a lot funnier.
Don Juan Henrey.