Monday, 21 September 2015

Piers Gaveston and...........David Cameron?????

Piers Gaveston is in the news today, along with Britain's Prime Minister 'Call me Dave' Cameron.   I shall let the papers do the talking for me.  From The Guardian newspaper today -

What have we learned about David Cameron today?

An unofficial biography of David Cameron written by the Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft contains a series of allegations. They include that the prime minister spent time in a drug-taking environment at university, that he took part in a bizarre dinner club initiation ritual, and another claim about Cameron’s knowledge of the peer’s offshore tax status.
One specific allegation is that, in the words of the Daily Mail, Cameron took part in an initiation ceremony in which he “put a private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig’s mouth. It cites a source – a current MP – who claims to have seen photographic evidence. It allegedly took place at a notorious Oxford University drinking club, the Piers Gaveston Society.

What is the Piers Gaveston Society?

“Piers Gav” is highly exclusive, made up of a self-selecting group of 12 undergraduates. The men-only club, named after the alleged male lover of Edward II, king of England from 1307 to 1327, was founded in 1977 and carries the motto: “Fane non memini ne audisse unum alterum ita dilixisse.” It translates to:

Truly, none remember hearing of a man enjoying another so much.
The Mail reports that the club encourages “excess, high camp [and] ostentatious decadence”.
Piers Gaveston members are understood to be given obscure titles such as “Poker”, “Despenser” and “Catamite”, and they all follow the Sicilian code ofOmertà – or maintaining silence about the club. In fact, it prides itself on being a clandestine organisation.

What do people say about it?

Valentine Guinness, one of the founders of the society, once told the journalist Toby Young that the appearance of Piers Gav and other similar societies in the 70s “was a conscious effort to say, look, you know, the country may be in a mess but we’re still going to have a good time”.
And so they do. For its summer ball, members each invite 20 guests – preferably more women than men, who were last year given 72 hours’ notice, when they were told to turn up for a hired coach that would drive them to an undisclosed destination in the countryside. “Cross-dressing is as likely to feature as speed-laced jelly,” says the Telegraph of these parties. “The rules are simple – there are none.”
The journalist Danny Kemp went to the Piers Gaveston ball in summer 1995. He has a different take on the club. “I guess the first thing to say is that it really wasn’t very debauched,” he said. “I was invited by a friend of a friend who was in the Piers Gaveston Society. The most obvious thing is that it is meant to be raunchy fancy dress. This means a lot of people going in drag [myself included unfortunately], others in what back then looked like bondage-type gear.
“Invitees were told to gather in a central Oxford location, where a coach picked everyone up and drove them to a location in a field on the outskirts of the city. There was a big marquee in the field, with what was again meant to look like louche decor, velvet, etc, and bowls of free punch to drink. I think they had some kind of burlesque-type dancing on a stage, but it was mainly just 90s house, techno and people dancing, in drag.
“I was expecting it to be a bit more interesting than it was. And, really, that was it. No pigs’ heads. The whole thing really seemed like not-terribly-debauched public schoolboys’ idea of debauchery.”
The broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer went to Piers Gaveston parties in 1989-91. She said they were “just big, fairly wild parties. Lots of drink, lots of very rich posh kids getting wasted – probably lots of drugs [but not my thing so I wouldn’t know]. They were fun bashes – very hot and sweaty and very much about getting off with people.”
Jules Evans, author of Philosophy for Life: And Other Dangerous Situations and policy director at Queen Mary’s Centre for History of Emotions, was a member of Piers Gaveston in 1997. He said it was not a secret society, rather just a club that organised a summer party. “They were pretty innocuous – basically a fancy dress rave. Not nearly as decadent as the media or the participants themselves liked to think. Didn’t stop the Sun sending a reporter and photographer and calling it an ‘orgy’,” he said.

What’s the difference between Piers Gaveston and the Bullingdon Club?

The Bullingdon Club is the other drinking society Cameron was known to be a member of. Most of the sonorous members of the Bullingdon are old Etonians. The prime minister was one such member, as were the London mayor, Boris Johnson and the chancellor, George Osborne.
The Guardian even publishes this picture.

Poor Piers - somehow being linked to ex-public schoolboys, pigs heads, strange and perverse initiation ceremonies and David Cameron - is not quite what he'd like to be associated with, I'm sure.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Summer Holidays.......

I guess September marks the end of the summer in the U.K.  As well as my visit to Rome, I also did some 'castle visiting' - all ones I've been to in the past, but if you get the chance to go, well, you just have to, right?  So here's some of the 'best of pix'.  Hope you enjoy!

An old favourite - Sudeley Castle.  

The Victorian tomb for Katherine Parr.
Not surprisingly, Sudeley has a huge focus on Richard III at the moment.  As Duke of Gloucester, Richard held the castle during his brother Edward IV's reign.   There is a replica of the head made of Richard III, as well as information about his life when Duke of Gloucester.  You can even buy a white rose flag in the gift shop!  Of course, as a Lancastrian supporter, I quickly passed by!

Next on my visits was Windsor Castle.  I hadn't been there for nearly 20 years!  It's not one of my favourite castles, but I always visit the chapel of St. George.  I'm always amused that Henry VIII has no fine tomb, and lies under a slab in a vault.

St. George's Chapel

Hampton Court is celebrating 500 years this year.  I've visited the palace quite a few times, and naturally prefer to Tudor part of the palace.   There are lots of celebrations and events taking place, so if you can get there,  Unfortunately, the 'mini-timeplays' have ended.  Highlights included the arrival of Henry VIII's court, entertaining us with singing and dancing.  Anne Boleyn was amongst the performers.  Elizabeth 1st interrogated a Scottish envoy about her cousin Mary, Queen, of Scots, Shakespeare and his company rehearsed  a play for King James, Barbara Villiers, mistress of Charles II, argued with his wife, Catherine of Braganza and George 1st had an English lesson.

Henry VIII's court arrives at Hampton Court.

Anne Boleyn, as a lady-in-waiting, is escorted into the palace.