Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Eccentric Club Dinner in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, attended a dinner held by The Eccentric Club on 21st of March at the Savile Club. Mr Imants von Wenden, Chairman, was the speaker. Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, Lord Bath, Lord Woodstock, Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, the Rev Roderick Leece, Rector, St George's, Hanover Square, and Mr Nicholas Wilkinson C.B., Chairman, the Savile Club, were the guests of honour.

Guests included: interior designer Nicholas Haslam, fashion designer David Shilling, author Christopher Lee, playwright Adrian Brown, Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders James Kelly, Brian Clivaz, Clem Chambers, Christian Furr, Fiona Graham-Mackay, Steven Dollond, Chris and Paul Czainski, Lucy McAdam-Freud and others.

The Eccentric Club raised and donated an undisclosed amount 'to the charity nominated by the Duke'. The Duke of Edinburgh welcomed the donation and raised a toast to the club.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Eccentric Autumn 2011

The Godfather of the Eccentric Club turns 85

On 20th of October Edward John Barrington Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, the last President of the Eccentric Club in Ryder Street and the 'Godfather' of the revived club, celebrates his 85th birthday.

Lord Montagu has always lived an eventful life and continues to be the driving force and the tireless guardian of the National Motor Museum, which he founded in 1952 on his estate in Beaulieu, Hampshire.

He is equally well known and loved for being a founder chairman of English Heritage and the Historic Houses Association, for his active participation for more than fifty years in our political life as a much respected member of the House of Lords, and inadvertently becoming a hero and an inspiration for millions of the gay people worldwide after 'the Montagu case', which eventually led to decriminalisation of the gay relationships in Britain.

Coming to his 85th birthday, Lord Montagu still amazes those who meet him with his sound judgement, sense of humour and the same youthful spirit he became loved for by so many over the years.

He became first involved with the Eccentric Club in the 1980s after making a speech at a club dinner. He was then the President of the Club till its closure for renovation and personally stopped in 1984 the backwards-going clock in The Owl's Roost, the Eccentric club members' bar…

In 2008, meeting with the Secretary of the revived club, Lord Montagu said that he likes and supports our endeavours, that it is 'lovely' what we are doing and that he shares our views on the definition of 'eccentricity' and the importance of celebrating it.

But what became a truly most bountiful gift to us - was the donation of his personal archive of documents related to the old Eccentric Club to the revived club's Committee. In such a way a symbolic continuity between the two clubs was established.

The Eccentric Club Committee and the club members wish Lord Montagu a very happy birthday, good health and many more happy returns. We all feel honoured and privileged by our acquaintance and association with his Lordship, a truly amazing and a most inspiring gentleman.

(Photo: Allan Warren)

Our very own Indiana Jones, or

Viscount Woodstock's Mojo Quest

Lord Woodstock, who has recently joined the Eccentric Club and brought us some fresh views on the charity fundraising, is presently conquering the South East Asia in a variety of the most eccentric ways, being on what he describes a 'Mojo Quest'!

Lord Woodstock has left Heathrow on 15th of September (having forgotten his debit card at home!) for Delhi, since then he has been leading a very exciting and often dangerous 'Indiana Jones' lifestyle, travelling through India and Nepal.

Among other things, he has been introduced to the stupa, did his first kora, met some most amazing people from all corners of the world, learned how to hop over the landslides and to avoid the herds of goats stampeding down the mountains, climbed twice the height of the Empire State Building, went for a week of rafting and had his first class degree in philosophy challenged by the crude primeval philosophy of the local nature.

He plans to continue his adventures through many more countries, finishing his journey in Tasmania and getting back to the old Blighty by Christmas!

Lord Woodstock carries along a good word about the Eccentric Club, promoting our traditions and ideals to those who have little or no knowledge of them, for which we are extremely grateful. We are looking forward to celebrating his return to England in style!

To follow his adventures - click here to go to his regularly updated blog.

Good bye, the Arts Club!

The Arts Club in Dover Street, our welcoming home since May 2009, has re-opened after the major renovation.

It is buzzing with the new members and new events, but along with the new owners, investors and directors came the new policies and the new rules of its operation: to bring back the united spirit of the club the new owners decided to discontinue the 'closed' private parties and events, thus making it impossible for our members to convene there.

The Eccentric Club Secretary had numerous talks with many other clubs in London and received a surprisingly high degree of support from quite a few. We do have now certain arrangements in place for our events and meetings and shall continue working on getting further benefits for our members across the clubland.

We urge our reciprocal members to bear with us for the time-being - we shall always be delighted to welcome you in London, we have the agreements allowing us to arrange for our reciprocals great lunches and dinners as well as an overnight stay (providing you let us know of your arrival at least a few days in advance).

And so, as the Eccentric Club moves on, getting more friends and stronger ties with many more clubs than before, we thank the Arts Club for all their generosity and the splendid times we had there and say: 'Good-bye, dear friends! Good-bye, the Arts Club!'

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Our Eccentric Spring and Summer

…What an eccentric season we are having! -

Filled with celebrations and adventures, drama and suspense!

...And the most eccentric weather…

At least half a dozen of the Eccentric Club members decided to tie their wedding knots, including the most illustrious Honorary Life Member since 2009 HRH Duke of Cambridge. We were also cordially congratulating other fellow eccentrics: Dr Diego Miranda-Saavedra, artist Martin Harrison-Priestman and a few others.

The club was unanimous in our joyous celebration of the 90th Birthday of the Club Patron, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

And we were happy to offer our full support to a new Dad, Stan Mytkowski (who was last time spotted in Sweden - who knows why?!).

The 230th Anniversary of the Society of Eccentrics took a form of a drinks reception rather than the originally anticipated dinner and was attended by a number of our usual as well as some surprise guests, including the Chairman of the UNICEF (UK) and his wife. Members and guests raised a toast to the memory of those who were making the Society of Eccentrics 'a talk of London town' in the 1780s-1840s.

Whilst some of the famous names of that era are now forgotten, many became the legends and historical figures. In 1825 "The English Spy", commemorating some of already then 'the dismembered Eccentrics' (as many members died between 1818-1825, and the club had no regular meetings until the mid-1830s), published a little anonymous poem listing the key figures of the old club:

"In the room, where of old the Eccentrics met;

When mortals were Brilliants, and fond of a whet,

And Hecate environ'd all London in jet.

Where Adolphus, and Sherri', and famed Charley Fox,

With a hundred good whigs led by Alderman Cox,

Put their names in the books, and their cash in the box;

Where perpetual Whittle, facetiously grand,

On the president's throne each night took his stand,

With his three-curly wig, and his hammer in hand:

Then Brownly, with eloquence florid and clear,

Pour'd a torrent of metaphor into the ear,

With well-rounded periods, and satire severe.

Here too Peter Finnerty, Erin's own child,

With many a tale has our reason beguiled:

Then wit was triumphant, and night after night

Was the morn usher'd in with a flood of delight."

It is a pity that whilst Richard Brinsley Sheridan ('Sherri') and Charles James Fox ('Charley Fox') are well remembered, the names of James Whittle (1758-1818) and James Brownley (1775-1822) have rubbed off from the public memory completely - yet at the dawn of the 19th century they were admired by both Sheridan and Fox for their wit and satire. Little is remembered of John Adolphus (1768–1845), though he is lucky to be included in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Alderman Cox, Peter Finnerty, Pierce Egan (1772–1849; the original author of the best-sellers about the two gentlemen, 'Tom and Jerry', and their adventures in London and elsewhere), William MacGillivray (1796–1852; the father of modern British ornithology, who walked by feet from Edinburgh to London, observing, sketching and describing the birds) and many others are only known to a narrow circle of specialists today. We feel it is our duty to research, uncover and preserve their life stories and achievements - they belong to the mankind…

On 9th of July in the grounds of Milton Manor in Oxfordshire the magnificent second annual 'Festival of the Nine Muses' took place, organised by Julia Burnett Armstrong, Lavinia Harrington, Ariadne Aivazovsky, Annunciata Walton, Maha and Zoya Rous, and many other splendidly creative young ladies and gentlemen. Whilst playing with a glass of Pimms and the idea of including the event into the club diary as compulsory for the members, your humble servant, the Club Secretary bumped into one other of the founding members of the revived Eccentric Club, Mr Henry Hemming (Member No.007), the much celebrated author of the book "In Search of the English Eccentric". Henry, it appeared, was invited to address the guests of the festival on his favourite subject - the nature of the English eccentricity, - however, his requests for a projector and a screen were answered in an equally eccentric way - he was offered more Pimms and a couch under the apple tree in a quiet quarter of the walled garden… It was after he became rather tranquil and philosophical about the entire purpose of his visit, that a crowd of eager listeners appeared from the bushes and the talk took place as planned, albeit at a most unexpected time…

On 16th of July, as the Chap Olympiad was taking place in Bedford Square, London, and the chaps were competing under the merciless rain, the Eccentrics had no better luck on the banks of the River Thames in the splendid market town of Henley, Oxfordshire, where for the first time the Thames Traditional Boat Rally accepted us as 'fringe-participants' and the qualified judges of 'The Most Eccentric Boat on the Thames' contest. Most of the morning and the early afternoon we were being consistently swept by the blast of wet wind into the river, but that just made us stronger and more confident - the genes of the sea-farers were awaking in some whilst the others were bravely swinging their picnic-knives as the swords around the cake with a chocolate pirate head on top of it. Our only fellow eccentric to actually walk the plank this year (in "The Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides" (2011)), Ray Frensham, was not with us on the memorable day, but his chilling gaze through the monocle was felt by many.

Despite the fearless trips up and down the river on board of 'Alaska', the famous Thames steamer which once carried Her Majesty The Queen, and numerous attempts to hold down to the ground our portable tent whilst holding the champagne glasses, the wind overpowered us eventually and we had to retreat to Phyllis Court which felt like heaven after a day of such intense fun. Whilst many of us left Henley after their tea, some came back the next day - Lyndon Yorke unveiled an unrehearsed and unexpected drama to those attending the boat rally: his attempt to demonstrate a most eccentric vessel he had assembled (in his own words, "a ‘river machine’ made from a pair of long range underwing fuel tanks from a 1960s vintage Hawker Hunter fighter jet"), known as 'Voltanic MK2', almost re-enacted the tragic end of 'Titanic' on the Thames and, naturally, with more Pimms than ice.

Thanks God, the passing-by boats saved for the mankind one of the greatest British eccentrics alive and his device, which by then was resembling either a submarine-in-disguise from one of the early James Bond movies or a mechanical whale stranded in the Thames.

Lyndon's own account of the memorable event will be published soon on this website and in the next issue of the club magazine. Despite such a nerve-wrecking experience, Lyndon Yorke awarded Mr Martin Lee, the proud owner of a boat called 'Apple Crumble', with the formal Certificate of the Eccentric Club pronouncing his vessel 'The Most Eccentric Boat on the Thames in the year 2011', a bottle of fine champagne and warm words of encouragement.

On 14th of August on Trevor Bailey Sporting Ground in Dulwich the Inaugural Cricket Match between the Eccentric Club and the Carlton Club took place at approximately 1:30pm.

Organised by the one and only Clem Chambers, affectionately known at the Carlton Club as 'CCCC' ('Carlton Club Cricket Captain'), who also, incidentally, happens to be the Eccentric Club Cricket Chairman, it was a true celebration of all things cricket and all things eccentric. It can be rightfully called the most historic and the most eccentric cricket game in London clubland!

The teams were carefully selected from the most dedicated professional and amateur players at both clubs as well as some splendidly playing non-members, who expressed their desire to defend the pride of the Eccentric Club and to be rewarded with its membership upon their victory.

We all played our best (even the Club Secretary, for whom it was the very first game of cricket in his life! and he still did not finish reading 'Cricket for Dummies'!), Max Wiltshire and Martin Hogbin were truly amazing, and, yes, we had more runs - 226 against 179, and, yes, they lacked two batsmen, but do things like that really matter? We all had fun and all have won. Thank you, Carlton Club! We should do it again some time.

The splendid game brought into our ranks new members, the victorious cricketers, some of whom are well known in professional cricket circles: Nick Lee, Matthew Birrell, George Beechey, David Burton, John Steele, Hallam Mosley, Matt Wood, and a wonderful lady - Zoya Skoropadenko!

We were also blessed by other fabulous new members this season, the gentlemen whose support to our club is indeed a great honour: Viscount Woodstock, Christopher Lee (the author of "This Sceptred Isle"), the artist Alexander Talbot-Rice, and many others.

And now, that the Summer is almost over, we are looking forward to our Autumn: we are working on the new exciting events for the club diary - a tea party at the most eccentric home of Lyndon Yorke in a living museum of his mechanical follyological inventions, a clay shooting outing, a visit to 'The Eccentricity' exhibition in Oxford followed by a game of snooker at a local club. Lucy Freud suggests we should have more events for our members in France where our popularity is also growing - apparently, our members are already very welcome at the Hotel Lutetia in Paris and that's just the beginning…

And now, I'm off - to South France to prepare the amicable grounds there.

À bientôt!

Yours truly, the Club Secretary

Nil Nisi Bonum

Monday, 1 February 2010

Eccentric Club through the looking glass of BBC

Being a British institution, after all, the BBC simply cannot avoid being eccentric! No matter, how hard and honestly it tries to! And, perhaps, that’s why we love it... no matter, what it reports. It is like an old and slightly batty uncle whose sight, hearing and memory are not as crystal clear as they used to be, yet the anecdotes he tells at a dinner table are somewhat credible and rather entertaining, so no-one cares to correct him when he says some adorable nonsense...

Last week, as the Eccentric Club was having yet another of its traditional monthly Open Convivial Parties, a man from the BBC turned up on our doorstep. For a week or so prior to that, he’s been following a number of our most outstanding and flamboyant fellows trying to film something, which, we assumed, was going to become a documentary about them and their extravagant hobbies. However, on the convivial night we have learned that everything was being filmed for a small episode, a news-filler, to be featured on the BBC London local TV news THE VERY NEXT DAY!

Trying to mingle amongst more than 150 members and guests and to see what he was up to, was not an easy task. But he seemed so quiet, polite and unobtrusive that eventually I have lost the track of him, having briefly explained, how we do like being portrayed and who may be the interesting members to film and to interview. The place was crowded with the musicians, artists, actors, sculptors, scientists, socialites, aristocrats, designers, wizards, fantastic and beautiful ladies and gentlemen, dolls and muses... I’m running out of breath even now, just trying to remember everyone! The evening was a great success, by any standard...

...Next morning many of us spent in anticipation of what the BBC was finally going to show about us. For more than two years we have been trying to get its reporters to come and film our events. This time it was all different: they asked, they came, they filmed. We were only graciously allowing them to do so...

...And soon it hit the screens of our fellow eccentrics in London! Others, like myself, had to watch it online, on the BBC website...

...We were told in a most pleasant manner... that the Eccentric Club has just opened its doors, for the first time since 18th century when it was founded (initially, the BBC website even had a title “17th Century Eccentric Club re-born”! Wow!).

We were shown Lyndon Yorke, our very own ‘Member No.001’ and the winner of the Great British Eccentric Award in 2001, who, apparently, was just an odd fellow living alone in Buckinghamshire and spending his lifetime building peculiar machinery from wicker and bits of early airplanes (not that we deny that so he does, but he also happens to be a very serious and practical chap, one of the unique aerial survey specialists, much valued in the oil and gas industry worldwide!).

Then we were introduced to Ray Frensham – who was uneasily walking down Piccadilly dressed up in the Victorian clothing and clearly looking out for the cameraman. He admitted into the camera that has always felt being rather different from the rest (there’s nothing wrong with that, however, Ray is also an accomplished writer, lecturer, fashion expert, etc).

Finally, in the following shots of the convivial party there’s been plenty of conviviality, guests and drinks, but the presentation for the charity EndPolio and the fashion show of the forthcoming star, celebrity-designer Lewis Duncan Weedon, were completely dropped out (after all, it was just less than two minutes episode)...

...It was our first BBC TV appearance, and, yes, any publicity is a good publicity, and our website traffic on that day was four times more than usual, and we have received dozens of emails from people who knew of our club and those who wanted to learn more about it... and we love to bits the chap who filmed it all, he was ever so nice... but... to those who know little of our club, we could have appeared a bunch of rich idlers, obsessed with our eccentric hobbies and parading our peculiar outfits to each other in a Mayfair mansion while getting drunk...

...How eccentric! How BBC!...

Quote from the BBC website: " "The Eccentric Club" requires its members to conform to a certain style which many of us might regard as 'odd'. "

Quote from the Eccentric Club website: " The Eccentric Club promotes “Good Fellowship” and “True Sociality” – virtues which are now getting rare and eccentric ".

Photographs of the event and its guests can be viewed and/or ordered here:

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

First Anniversary of the Revival

Dear Friends,

There are two new events to take place at the Eccentric Club: our open convivial monthly meeting on the 27th of August, Thursday, at 7:13pm, and a more formal Dinner on the 11th of September, Friday, at the same time.

Both events will take place at our new home, No.40 Dover Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4NP (nearest tube: Green Park; we can also advise you on a members' parking nearby).

On 29th of August it will be exactly a year since the revival of the Eccentric Club in London, and, eccentrically enough, we shall not celebrate it on the very day. Instead, both events listed above will be dedicated to our First Anniversary of Revival. This year only our formal Anniversary Dinner will be open to non-members and members' guests, from 2010 it will be available to our members only.

We have a lot to celebrate: in just a year's time we have brought the name of the Eccentric Club back to life and placed it firmly on the map of London clubland, we have earned our Royal Patronage and ended our homelessness by finding an incredibly generous agreement with the Arts Club in Dover Street, we have attracted a hundred members from the UK and 11 other countries, signed reciprocal agreements with two clubs (one in the USA, the other one in Ireland), and have appointed two Official Representatives (in the USA and in Russia) who are 'spreading the word', promoting our goals and ideals, introducing new fellow eccentrics to the Club and our Club to them!

The best way to book your participation in either of mentioned events is to visit the following sites:

Our website has been recently renovated, particularly, its 'Members-Only' section, do have a look! If you had a login & password which no longer work, please let us know, and we'll reset them for you.

And, finally, for those of you having spare time and interested in the Club’s past, here’s some interesting links:

We are looking forward to seeing you with us soon!

Best Eccentric Regards,

Imants von Wenden
on behalf of the Eccentric Club Committee

Latest Minutes:
Club Rules & Regulations:

"...Eccentric essence is a blazing star,
Whose powerful rays enlighten nations far
With brilliant ideas, that illume the mind,
And raise the thoughts above the vulgar kind ;
Makes genius boundless - aloft in air it flies -
Expands in space unlimited in the skies;
From world to world it roams about at pleasur e,
And then returns with eccentric treasure
Of wit, of whim, bon-mot, and jeu d'esprit,
The very soul of Eccentricity..."
(George Weguelin, 1827)

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Battle of Verse

This is a long overdue Report of The Battle of Verse, held by the Eccentric Club on the 26th of March 2009 in the Arts Club at 40, Dover Street, Mayfair, London.

The event was advertised as a Festival of Eccentric and Witty Poetry, about a dozen and a half of various entertaining works were read, mostly by their authors, some shall be added in this blog.

Mr Adrian Brown's witty poetry and charmingly captivating performance - including his truly unique reading of the Owl and the Pussy-Cat in French! - won the unanimous vote of the Jury and the audience in his favour.

He was pronounced The Grand Master of the Knights of Verse of the Eccentric Club (eccentrically long title!) and granted an exclusive right to talk in verse to all the club members for a year.

Other contestants, much loved and enjoyed by the audience, included Colin Shaddick and Peter Golding - both gentlemen took a great deal of care in choosing their verses for the evening. Mr Golding wrote a poem on a specifically 'eccentric' subject, the transformation of yesterday's eccentricities into a modern day norm! Mr Shaddick immersed the audience into a moonlight jazz of playing with words and images, his memories and feelings. His poems were well complimented by an addition submitted by our overseas member David John Drew, whose meditational chanting-like imagery sequences put a deep shamanic spell on the audience as well as the brave volunteer to read them - the actor Steven John Bugdale, - a man well trained in the art of articulate literary performance and yet at times feeling the strength of the challenge that evening.

Mr Golding also read to the audience an excerpt from The Eccentric Drama, written by George Weguelin, a dedicated Poet Laureate of the Eccentric Society, in 1827.

Selected Poems Performed at the Battle of Verse:

Common Law

by Adrian Brown

When I was young, and dreamt of going places,
And getting to the top, and all that jazz,
They told me I must trample on the faces
Of those who cluttered up the way…….
When I began to train to be climber,
To clamp on crampons, gird get-up-and-go,
Become a proud and pushy paradigmer –
I couldn’t find a face to step on,
I entertained an enterprise more novel
To use when all around are fools or rogues:
Tell them: “It’s clear that you were born to grovel,
So kindly place your bonce beneath
My brogues.”
You’ll find they’ll leap to follow this suggestion,
Obsequiously bend to your command,
Thereby discreetly easing the congestion
That blocked your progress to
The promised land.

I fear I have to charge a small commission
For this advice, your life-style to refit;
So send a handsome cheque in recognition,
And don’t forget to sign the thing,
You twit!!!!

Eccentric Is The New Normal

by Peter Golding

Eccentric is the new norm — Norm
I told ‘im now ‘es old and worn
You get so muddled these days
you need somefing else to describe your ways

Look ‘ere my dear ol battle axe
you could never shake it about to Stax
So betta ta go n stand on yer ‘ead
than be taken as one of ‘em walkin’ dead

I explained how in Britannia’s age of surrender
a kindly way to possibly mend her
Was to imagine we were still at war
and to revisit our behavioural law

Maybe ask one afternoon
would you care to see the moon
Join cat and fiddle with a cuppa tea
or take a trip to eternity

So now my hearties –behold a new window
with opportunities for ageless brothers to go
And be ourselves-the one we were hiding
but now rather like it- as we keep on finding

Wise clowns and feelers
(not many city dealers)
From all walks of life
and all kinds of strife

And characteristically — most every mile
a smile, a smile, another smile
Inside and out
whether hearty or nought

Yes- it’s easier to be an E these days
as others follow their tele’s ways
And football and celebrities all blend together
and everyone talks about the weather

So-the E word’s now the latest trend?
and soon be sold around every bend?
Available in perfumes and aftershave?
its new age music played at every rave?

Yes we’re saving the nation
with our own elation
And making brave the world
while politics are hurled

So at last now friends — whether upright or informal
The banner reads — Eccentricity is The New Normal !

I Remember Her So Well

by Colin Shaddick

Miss Westcott. I remember her so well.
I loved the way she looked. I loved her smell.
She was firm, but she was fair with us all
and when she moved through the class, I blushed.

I remember her so well. She was tall.
She dressed in a brown tweed suit, and her hair:
her hair was swept back and held by a pin.
This made her steel-grey eyes look enormous.

Her long neck grew from the vee of her blouse,
and her stockings swished as she walked about.
Her suit was nipped to emphasise her waist
and her warm-looking skirt ended below the knee.

There was a brooch pinned upon her lapel
and beneath that brooch swung a little chain.
Sometimes the light would catch a link or two
and flash out a secret message to me.

Miss Westcott. I remember her so well.
Oh, the pain of leaving our village school.
I cannot bring to mind the shoes she wore,
but now I picture her in boots of leather!

Excerpt from The Eccentric Drama (1827)

by George Weguelin

Now as we are met, by usage, here to night,
After a preposterous perilous flight,
In which I believe few histories of late
A story half so wonderful relate.
As birds of passage from bush to brier roam,
Can find no resting place till they get home ;
So we, per favour of our glorious King,
Shelter once more under his sovereign wing,
To hold our senate in our ancient hall,
Where Eccentricity extends to all.
Free brothers of the sacred order rais'd
Of noble virtues, which can ne'er be raz'd;
That love the synod of so great a name,
And glory only in Eccentric fame,
Not like the empty fop of high degree,
Who vaunts his dress or frothy pedigree :
No,no; Eccentric essence is a blazing star,
Whose powerful rays enlighten nations far
With brilliant ideas, that illume the mind,
And raise the thoughts above the vulgar kind ;
Makes genius boundless - aloft in air it flies -
Expands in space unlimited in the skies;
From world to world it roams about at pleasur e,
And then returns with eccentric treasure
Of wit, of whim, bon-mot, and jeu d'esprit,
The very soul of Eccentricity...

Paaram-Deep Kaur’s Nocturnal Visitation to Paris, or

The Miragination of the Delhic Princess.

by David John Drew

A jar
Of tumeric
Slips from a shelf
And shatters
On the kitchen floor
Of a suburban home
In Gail Drive
Salina … Kansas:

Paaram’s soul ached to sway in waves thro’ city streets,
A concave view: gazing into space, a face glazed,
And eyes swirling: enthralled by wild amazing visions;
Tense lingering dreams of life in Paris, pursued with
Rapturous desires for grand boulevards and fine-arts,
Her mind prancing gaily across strands, a shadow…
Etched to perfection, reflected in the fashionable
Glimmer’d arcadian glass of respected purveyors
In exquisite goods.

The cremated ashes of tradition forbade the yearning,
The grain of the father: constant polish, word of the Queen;
Unequivocal fortress of law, chained in the tower…
Floral damsel of air in the land of five rivers,
In embers and
Constantly brooding
Thoughts of

Thus she lay, dissected and adorned in pattern’d
Whorls of intricately designed Bombay henna
Reclined fatefully in sighs on the velvet divan…
She slipped silently into unconsciousness, loosened
By the rare and illicit indulgence of cherries;
Taste of the shisha smoke pervading her sensual lips;
Sleep and sin her only exciting escape from the slavery of
Suburban mediocrity, a North-American cultural desert,
A foggy reality,
Evaded and

In that dopey lilt the spirit of hope appeared
Madame Liberte, that verdant Goddess… the Faery
Stood at her feet and with her flaming torch
Of freedom, set Kumari’s soul afire, a fiery fever
Erupted: that ravaged and consumed the feminine frame,
Lady Liberty raised her up into the swart sky,
And set her like a burning comet across an April heaven
Laughing across the slashing surf of the Atlantic
Eastwards to the place of the dawn, the soul awakened
A spirit soaring,
Empty vales
To taste

Launched into frivolity: spellbound by the silver’d moon;
The crescent whisper’d promise of rare jewels …
In abundant measure, treasures of Eurasia’s dawn.
Across a bridge she tip-toed with a bouquet of red roses
Over the ocean to the ripple of the trickling Seine
All transformed on alighting: in a cocktail dress
A butterfly in bright translucent emerald hue
Blended and woven by the famed Vicomtesse de Ribes.
Splendid in glory… wonderfully waltzing in Gallic rhyme
To the sovereign echo of magical lunar tunes,
To the final majestic moment, the first rays of…
Charismatic, enigmatic dawn of the Sun-King, then
Led magnetically by Antoinette, into the city;
The centre, the square of revolving orbs and spheres…
Arabesque of ghosts all swirling and twirling around
The silent, lonely
In the
Place de la Concorde.
In the early

Ushered in haste by Valentino de Rosso
Who led her by leaps and bounds to the Rue Assas
To Christian Constant: to gorge on Ceylon cinnamon
And Yemeni jasmine: Valrhona forged chocolate by
The artistic grand-master of silken ganache
And the Palet D’or…
Then, with a well-composed quip curteousy of Villon
She skipped a chant all the way to the D’Orsay
Blending in dance to the bold colours of Les Fauves:
Matisse introduced Vincent, not lost but forlorn
Frozen in the waves of an ice blue storm, she…
Still calm and voluptuous … then quietly moved on,
And said;

“let me eat chou de fleur paired with black truffle,
With supreme Albufera ladled on vollaile de Bresse
Lunch with Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee
Sparkle beneath 10,000 crystals and Clementine cloth
A glass of that Lanson; Noble Cuvee 88, as I
Skip down the Champs Elysee. all
Paid for with an Assignat:
Cent Vingt Cinc Sols.

Emmanuel chimed in the Temple of Reason
Marking the time of dusk, Amristar framed in Helios
The descending sun, reflected in murmuring waters
She plunged… thro’ the voice of the Guru Granth Sahib
Who, calling the Bayniens to the doorway to God,
Her venture, a mighty sea of thoughts realized ... now
Retreated like the tides, the rainbow bubble bursting,
The yellow path crumbling to dust and rubble…
Paaram awoke, stranded again on the suburban shore
A rare flower in a garden of weeds, bordered by laws,
And ordered
To start sweeping
The dusty


More poems are available for the members of the Eccentric Club:


Mr Adrian Brown's books of poems can be purchased here:

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Eccentric Outcome of the Awards Ceremony

...And so the day has come, the 1st of April, when the Eccentric Club of London and the UK was going to name the Greatest British Eccentric of the Year 2009.

It was advertised as a revival of yet another long-standing tradition and the panel of judges was to be chaired by Lyndon Yorke, the winner of The Great British Eccentric Award in 2001. Questions were asked: where does this tradition originate from? Has it been celebrated by the Eccentric Club since 1780s?

Some of the members of the present club and some of those who belonged to the elitest old Eccentric Club in Ryder Street, St James’s, felt that the event might roll down the route of becoming a “monster raving loony” clown-parade, or a smaller scale replica of the Muncaster Festival of Fools. Either way, they’ve argued, it was little to do with the club and its definition of eccentricity...

Indeed, the very award won by Mr Yorke in 2001 was introduced by Kellogg’s Fruit & Fibre, putting some commercial taste into the very idea of the contest. It is still unclear what has motivated Kellogg’s to utilize such an event for its marketing. Could it be that, in fact, marketing purpose was only an excuse for the organisers to celebrate a much greater issue – the inherent eccentricity of our culture which still fascinates millions of people from all walks of life worldwide?

And the Eccentric Club itself, though remembered by many as a “stiff-upper-lip” exclusive aristocratic and business establishment in St James’s, had staged events like this in the past: after all, from 1890s to 1940s majority of its members were actors (and not just any actors, but many comedians, music hall performers and even, God forbid, clowns!), and they knew how to put on a show!

The older generation may well remember Little Titch in his Big Boots, who was a member of the Club, or fascinating pictures by Alfred Hind Robinson of “Punch and Judy” Festival, held on 10th of September 1921, organised by the Eccentric Club, and involving 13 minstrel troupes, 5 clown duos and 17 punch shows! Fun events like this were seen as a good social entertainment helping the Club to raise the much needed funds for the charitable causes.

Earlier, in the 1800s, the Society of Eccentrics, a predecessor of the Eccentric Club, was arranging for similar purposes performances of Robert “Romeo” Coates, a son of a wealthy sugar planter from the West Indies, a wannabe-gentleman and an amateur actor, who, by talking out of script to his audience, was making those watching him either laugh or walk out in outrage.

So, in a way, the Greatest British Eccentric Annual Award celebrated by the present Eccentric Club on 1st of April 2009, is a continuation of a great and long-standing tradition. The organisers believe that it should have demonstrated the neverending public interest to various manifestations of “practical eccentricity” – defined by the club as originality of creative persons on a lifelong quest – for themselves, their purpose and for new experiences.

Both members of the public and the media are fascinated by those brave enough to stand in such a contest, and the strength of their personalities and the interest to such an event may still do an awful lot of good for the charitable fund-raising and promotion of true human values which we sometimes seem to forget...

But let us get back to the event – only a selected number of journalists, TV crews and guests were allowed to a closed room in the fashionable Arts Club in Dover Street, Mayfair, on Wednesday, the 1st of April. Many of those arriving were sharing their fears about making their way back after the event – the audience included many of those who had to travel from distant parts of the UK and abroad, and London was still being a battleplace of the police and the protestors against everything possible, wishing to get noticed on the “Financial Fools Day” when the G20 leaders decided to gather in London.

Nevertheless, most of the expected guests and participants arrived on time. The key speaker, Mr Lyndon Yorke, got lost and found himself on a board of an airplane flying to Madagascar (even the greatest of the eccentrics may have some urgent business!), but his absence was found to be quite eccentric and amusing by those present.

The event was being prepared for a while with the members of the Eccentric Club Committee nominating some of the most eccentric, in their opinion, individuals to be considered for an Award. The reason for choosing them behind their backs was that none of them would generally consider themselves eccentrics. And, what is more important, none of them would ever compete in an event of any kind. Nevertheless, they were nominated, but soon only a few of the nominees remained in the list of the finalists. Four, to be precise. Others appeared to attract a much lesser number of online votes, so they were finally left in peace.

First to arrive of the final four, was Rob Lowe – he stormed the room in an outfit distantly resembling those of Indiana Jones’s, with a picnic basket and a media crew. Like a hurricane, Rob was circulating between the columns in the room, occasionally being carried away into the inner courtyard garden and then materialising again, often - with a supermodel-looking long-legged PR associate.

He was soon followed by the other two finalists and their parties – a 6ft+ People’s Poet Colin Shaddick, a jewel of contemporary poetry from Devon, and Ray Frensham, Esq., a perfect London gentleman of 1880s-1910s, as his outfit and a monocle were suggesting.

The final contestant, Captain Beany, an orange-painted superhero from Wales, was being late...

A bewildered cameraman was trying to position himself by a 6ft-tall owl (Club’s symbol) made entirely out of the balloons (a challenging task, as we have heard!) and supplied by the exclusive decorator of the event, Mrs Natalia Goussarova from

A band from Manchester, a most peculiar and yet refreshingly traditional, known under the name of “Dr Butler’s Hatstand Medicine Band” (do not try saying this after too many glasses of wine!), has started, to everyone’s delight, their performance, a selection of amusing old-fashioned songs and tunes, including a hit “Dead Butler”.

But soon a huge brass bell rang by a glamourous Master of the Ceremonies of the new Club Emmanuel Ray symbolized the official opening of the event.

Emmanuel introduced the judges – renowned eccentricologists Ben Le Vay and Henry Hemming, a toast was raised “to the many great virtues of Eccentricity!”, and as Ben Le Vay has started his welcoming speech, an orange lighting struck the building – it was Captain Beany with a truly royal escort of PR and TV people.

The Ceremony soon turned into quite a spectacle, a full-scale theatrical performance with songs and speeches and poems, each of the contestants was successful in engaging the audience, and the audience was much willing to be engaged with such fascinating characters! It seemed that there will be no winner – indeed, how can anyone choose the best between so different and yet so equal in strength of personality contestants?!

The judges eventually had to retire to make their decision. Contestants and guests were treated to more music from Dr Butler and some witty poetry by Adrian Brown, a recently nominated Grand Master of Verse of the Eccentric Club (with an obligation to talk at the Club in verse for a year!).

When the judges came back, silence fell upon the congregation. Everyone was wondering what the final decision would be, as all the contestants were worthy of the First Prize: Rob Lowe has collected most public votes online, but Colin Shaddick had more votes in a closed “members-only” ballot of the Eccentric Club, Ray Frensham was in an undisputable lead until a few days before the event, his network of friends, supporters and appreciators of his eccentric character was certainly capable of making him the ultimate winner, and Captain Beany, though having collected the smallest number of public votes online, was an extremely popular Welsh superhero, the second Great British Eccentric in 2001 and The Greatest Welsh Eccentric of the same year...

The judges announced the winners in the backward order, awarding Ray Frensham with the Special Prize, Colin Shaddick with the Third Prize, Rob Lowe – with the Second, and Captain Beany – with the First...

No-one could explain their reasoning, but no-one doubted its fairness and impartiality... How eccentric!