The SRCY Dinner: One American's Perspective
Alexander T. Taft, III
I knew something was afoot when Simon Holden cornered me on the way to the bar, and to my advantage I expect he believed I'd made more trips than I really had! After exchanging the typical pleasantries of such an evening's formal meal, he revealed his wishes (which you are currently reading) for me to contribute to Comic. Thankfully, faculties intact, I was able to beg off doing anything more extensive than my own humble perspective, honored as I was. Yet, somehow in the end I appear to be writing this article in its entirety, so please forgive any egregious oversights, and recognize this represents only my own perspective.
So please let me preface what remains of my paragraphs by providing an introduction on my arrival in the UK for my first Cumberland Dinner. I can safely say, strategic long term planning (or plotting, if you will) is a skill I rarely employ outside my professional life; I am frequently quite impulsive in my personal life (interpret as you like) and attending this dinner was no exception. I can only offer my sincere thanks to those who truly helped facilitate this weekend, and to the attractive young lady at Heathrow Customs who (I believe) found my aloofness nothing short of charming, especially when she uncovered I was on a campanological excursion!
Forward to Friday, September 8, where after a short ride (by US standards!) to York, I was pleased to see again the city's Ringers' familiar & friendly faces at an Italian Dinner. Good food, conversation and of course a dirty joke paved the way to the Yorkshire Terrier pub. To no surprise, I found myself among a great crowd of Cumberlands, including fellow Washingtonian Haley Barnett, and quickly found myself with a pint of "Guzzler" ale in front of me and engaged in conversation. I learned that a number of Cumberlands took advantage of the weekend by attending St. Leger Horse Races that York was hosting earlier in the day; talk of the races often turned to the good fun, drink, weather and winnings, but rarely to any financial losses!
The congenial atmosphere continued into the night, and was certainly in full force the next morning (though I understand some heads were clearer than others). While there were two successful peals at Coney Street and Huntington, a disappointing loss at St. Lawrence for the author only paved the way to a friendly morning tea and an afternoon pint again at the Terrier. While yours truly is always happy for a drink, I did have the honest intention of have only a few and then heading off to explore the city. I'll have to go back to York someday, as every time I was ready to leave, another familiar face would show up, and another pint of beer would have to be consumed! A wonderful afternoon led only to a most spectacular evening of drinks, dinner and a most welcoming Society.
At Saint Williams College in the shadow of the Minster, the pre-dinner drinks were a great icebreaker, the dinner was exquisite beef tenderloin, and the conversation was, well, revealing! Washington, DC is rarely short of scandal, rumor and gossip, and but the Cumberlands certainly would give my nations Capital a good run! It was all in good spirit, and did nothing but strengthen my resolve to make the UK a more regular (if not semi-permanent for a time) destination. And rest-assured, the details of my newfound Cumberland Social Enlightenment will remain out of print!
The highlight of the evening was an area somewhat, forgive the pun, foreign to me: The Toasts. While dinner speeches are certainly not uncommon at US dinners, there was an added elegance and sense of purpose with the Cumberland toasts, beginning with proprietor's very official announcements. George Brown toasted the Church, with a response by Reverend Dale Barton; David House kindly proposed the Society, with a response by current Master Simon Holden. Each toast had meaning, was well spoken, dashed with good deal wit and humor (though, often at Glint's expense) and together highlighted the spirit that drives this Society's success.
The evening was nothing short of excellent, a true testament to both the organizers and attendees. In particular, the principle organizers, Phillipa Whittington, Penny Sharpe and Christine Potter deserve addition commendation for their efforts! The York ringers were truly excellent hosts in making us feel so welcome to their city and facilitating our ringing. Additionally, we were also pleased to welcome ASCY Master Stephanie Warboys and husband John.
The "usual suspects" were of course found outdoors after the meal, Cuban Cigars puffing (and occasionally swaying) away. From here, to my surprise, Ms. Haley Barnett proceeded to organize the late night drinking expedition, and many of us found our way to a modern pub offering more drink, music an enticing dance floor to some. Incriminating pictures may be found on the SRCY website very soon...
The next morning a number of Cumberlands joined the York Locals for service ringing at the Minster, and at St. Wilfreds. That afternoon, twelve members enjoyed a quarter of Stedman Cinques, with some feeling the effects of the previous late night/early morning! While the Northallerton crowd caught a Routemaster Bus home, for myself, following a bit of service ringing, I hitched a ride back London and returned to the states the day after that. As I write this article, I can only say that I had a fantastic time, that it is nice to know my suffix is more notorious than I am, and that I am truly proud to be a member of such an excellent society!
SOCIETY OF ROYAL CUMBERLAND YOUTHS
HUNTINGTON, North Yorkshire
Sat Sep 9 2006 2h42 (5)
5056 Spliced S Major
(8m: 704 Lincolnshire & Superlative, 672 Rutland, 608 Cambridge, Pudsey & Yorkshire, 576 Bristol & London: 139 com, atw.)
Comp. A N Tyler
1. E Jane Sibson
2. Elizabeth A Hibbert
3. Joanna K Dorling
4. Caroline C House
5. Michael H D O'Callaghan
6. Derek E Sibson (C)
7. Graham A Duke
8. Alan Regin
St Martin-le-Grand, Coney Street
Sat Sep 9 2006 2h52 (10)
5120 Bristol Surprise Major
Comp. I R Fielding
1. Ian R Fielding (C)
2. Christine Richardson
3. Philippa M Whittington
4. Mary E Holden
5. Benjamin D Kipling
6. Timothy J Peverett
7. John P Loveless
8. Frank W Rivett
York, Minster. Sun 10th Sept. 1311 Stedman Cinques. 1 Ian Fielding (C), 2 Rachel Town, 3 Joanne Fielding, 4 Jennie Town, 5 Matthew Durham, 6 Benjamin Constant, 7 Linda Garton, 8 Kris King, 9 Paul Mills, 10 John Loveless, 11 Oliver Cross, 12 Simon Holden. For evensong.