What a lovely dinner we had at Peterhouse College last evening â€“ the oldest college in Cambridge, founded, in 1284, by Hugo de Balsham, Bishop of Ely. It was a candlelit supper which made life a little difficult in reading my speech. I wondered whether this was the only remaining college in Cambridge not to have electricity in the dining room but I think that one is Magdalene College, Cambridge, where son Miles went. Indeed, I recall him telling me, some years ago, about an American visitor who marvelled at the beauty and history of the College (amongst other things it houses Pepys diaries) and could not understand why they were not able to afford electricity in the diving hall!
There was a good turnout for this dinner and I saw many old friends and their wives. The deputy president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Joe Behan, and barrister Tony Bingham, made some flattering remarks about Alice and me before I gave my own offering which seem to go down quite well, even the old jokes.
The committee very generously gave me a pair of silver champagne flutes and a decent bottle of champagne to go with it — you see how my penchant for champagne has spread. I blame Graham Morris, the Times photographer, for the photograph he took which has appears four times in that paper (and in Wisdon) of me pouring champagne at Lordâ€™s. Indeed the same cropped picture used for the blog.
As I feared at least four of the guests, at the Cambridge dinner, that I know of, intend to appear again at the Atheneum at the end of the month and one of them pleaded with me to include at least one new joke. I shall oblige; it will be my favourite one which they have, no doubt, heard me tell over the years, however I am banking on the human frailty of â€˜long term cognitive impairmentâ€™ (memory loss) and hope that they will, at least, forgotten the punch line.