As a less poetically inclined gentleman once commented, ‘My memoirs are not my confessions.’ These are sentiments I feel a certain kinship with, the duty of a poet is to draw attention towards that which is worthwhile, not to rub the listeners nose in a squalid reality that they are all too aware of. Indeed if a person wants squalor or degradation there are professions out there who desire nothing more than to pander to these unhealthy desires. (And by this I do not merely mean the more self absorbed novelists and similar.)
But still there are times when it becomes necessary to lay out the truth of what really happened, lest people go through life believing a falsehood that might rebound to my discredit.
The Port Naain Philosophical and Debating Society for Ladies of wit and discernment was not my idea. My involvement was only peripheral. It all started innocently enough, one of my patrons (who for her own peace of mind must remain nameless) mentioned casually that her daughter had developed an interest in Philosophy. I seem to remember replying that as hobbies go it was probably safer than developing an interest in ‘Gentleman’ adventurers and cheaper than an interest in horses. Of course this produced the desired chuckle that such a sally deserves, but my patron was determined. She smiled and said that the daughter would value my advice on the subject.
Recognising that my Patron was serious I suggested she pass on to the young woman these rules.
- Form a society with a sensible membership fee paid in advance.
- Hold the meetings in a neutral establishment, perhaps a back room in respectable tea room.
- Serve a decent lunch.
- Have a steward serve good wine, but make sure that the steward knows to watch the person in the chair who will let him know by significant gestures when a member has had enough.
- Prohibit the carrying of edged weapons to meetings.
Looking back I feel that my Patron regarded the last three rules as a jest on my part, given that the membership was going to be composed of nice young women of impeccable breeding. If she’d raised this issue with me I would have commented that Lord Cartin was of impeccable breeding but I don’t argue with him when he has a drawn sword in his hand.
Continue reading here: The Port Naain Philosophical and Debating Society for Ladies of wit and discernment.