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The John Buchan Society    

No 31/Autumn 2004


Scenes from an ADC's life (1935-38), letters from and to Gordon Rivers-Smith

John Buchan and Parliament, by Lord Stewartby

Hollywood in British Columbia, by J William Galbraith

Janet Adam Smith, by Michael Redley

The Friday Club, by Elwin Taylor

Notes and Queries

  • 'Britisher charmed by the South'
  • Buchan as Shakespeare interpreter
  • Buchan on the BBC
  • Seen in The Atlantic
  • Up north again
  • A secret revealed at last?: Hannay and WNDs
  • The new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Buchan at length


The Friday Club
Elwin Taylor

We met in the back room of an Italian restaurant off the Canonbury Road, where a steel and plate glass table was set for fifteen. Pink and yellow linen produced an ebullient, almost Mediterranean atmosphere.

The club retained the services of a well-known 'TV celebrity chef', and the food was little short of first-class. Fragrant polentas, long strands of unclassified pastas, grated mooli and organic mange-tout were to be expected almost as a rule. The waiting staff were absconded Filipina maids, moonlighting from the tills at Nine Elms. Their friendly, suggestive movements around the table lent a tangible charm to the proceedings.

Several of the members I knew, or knew by sight. There was 'Ral' Collat, who had been with Mowlem in Ulster. And little Olly Pugh, who had done great things with the Focus Groups in '96, and later had a hand in the September dossier. Lord Burminster was present, dispensing an easy geniality. He was reputed to sit on more quangos than any man in England. Only his wife, serving under her maiden name, ran him remotely close. It was hard to imagine that this comfortable peer of the realm had once thrown the first brick-bat at Salford Colliery. I recognized the squat form of Jon Palliser-Yeates, the banker, who had realized his Enron options months before the final crash. And Ed Leithen, the attorney general, who had led the poll tax riots in Bristol and Nuneaton, and later helped to break the firemen's strike. His 'orange' sun tan was generally considered to be as contrived as his interpretation of the UN Charter. Fulleylove was there too, the postal voting and proportional representation expert, who was said to have half the returning officers in the West Midlands in his pocket. I was especially fascinated by Nightingale, the Rastafarian poet who had made a million in Arts Council grants. Beside me was placed a large, unremarkable, man who confessed, under examination, to being a member of the cabinet.

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