Friday, 14 September 2012

A club for eighteenth-century specialists? Gadzooks!


I have been thinking about starting a club for disaffected specialists in the eighteenth century, who never get to teach anything to do with the eighteenth century any more. Thought of calling it the Society of Historical Redundancy - which seems suitably bitter.

This society will meet in the upstairs room of Starbucks coffee shop in Stratford, where coffee and chocolate will be quaffed in a boisterous manner.  All members will be required to rest one leg on a table or chair to indicate an attitude of relaxed and daring bravado or (if we are lucky) outright debauchery.

The dress code will be wigs (worn at a jaunty angle), tights, snuff-boxes (the snuff is optional), satirical sneers and oversize hats which can be thrown into the air at random moments and for no discernable reason.

The debates will range from topics such as the meaning of life, science, poverty and education, but will mostly involve bitching about the seventeenth century ('what a waste of a hundred years'), the nineteenth century ('modernist bastards') and Horace Walpole ('the dandy').

Members will be referred to either as 'la, sir', or 'zounds, madam'.  Insults must, of course, be within the limits of polite discourse - ranging from the ironic eyebrow but not extending beyond 'gadzooks, you tit'.

Membership will last for approximately 4 years, after which members will be banished from the country for the remainder of their sorry lives - although they will, of course, be spoken of affectionately once everyone has forgotten just how nasty they really were.

On Saturday nights we will be suffocating domesticated pets for entertainment.

Interested? To join simply get Will Self to to agree with something you say and send the recording to me.

It is my firm belief that such a society would soon demonstrate the importance of the eighteenth century, and the need for it to be firmly embedded in the curriculum at all levels.

Oh, and no Catholics.