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  • Writer's pictureWF Flemington

A footnote (1925)

As a footnote in lighter vein to the record of these celebrations a story worth telling relates to the Inaugural Luncheon at the Lion Hotel in 1925. Among many other distinguished Cambridge guests the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, had been bidden to the feast, but with his well-known dislike of teetotal occasions he was doubtful whether to accept. His retainer at Jesus College however assured him that he would see to it that he should have special consideration. “Don’t worry, Sir Arthur! The head waiter at the Lion is a relative of mine.”

Accordingly on the day he ensured that Sir Arthur’s glass was suitably laced, and a jug was put in front of him for future replenishment. But as the lunch proceeded some of the contents of this fortified jug found its way into the glasses of some of Sir Arthur’s neighbours, and they expressed appreciation of this particular brand of lemonade.

There is a slightly different version of the episode in Dr F Brittain’s memoir of ‘Q’, Arthur Quiller Couch (1947) who tells the story without specific reference to Wesley House but the incident certainly happened. It is said that after Luncheon, when the teetotal character of the occasion was being deplored by the domestic staff at The Lion, one of the waiters was heard to remark, ‘After all, I suppose we must take the rough with the smooth!’.


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