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“An Entirely Different World”

From a 1972 profile of the President’s Putter match between Oxford and Cambridge

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Editor’s note: This is one of several Herbert Warren Wind excerpts selected by author Bradley Klein to accompany his Wind profile, “Forever in Tweed, Amen,” as featured in TGJ No. 13.

April 1, 1972

The Annual Dinner (black tie) took place the next night, Saturday—the eve of the semifinal and final rounds, and, as such, the last night when everyone would be on hand. At seven-thirty or thereabouts, groups started to make their way down the narrow streets to the George Hotel. Dinner, in the banquet room, began at eight, and after dinner there were four speeches: the retiring captain proposed the health of the new captain; the new captain responded; a member of the Society proposed the health of the guests; and the vice-captain of the Rye Golf Club replied for the guests. As is usually the case in Britain, all four men had worked hard on their talks, which were full of funny stuff and were very well delivered, but the high point of the evening was unquestionably an ad lib from the audience during Bathurst’s speech. The new captain’s oratorical style bears a definite resemblance to the rush of a rhino, and when he was charging full tilt into a complicated sentence that included several dependent clauses and two gerundial constructions, he may, in his haste to punch home a climactic series of colorful zeugmas, have neglected to supply the sentence with a subject and a predicate. “Could we have that one again?” one of the frontbenchers asked in a dry voice. Pandemonium. At the conclusion of the speeches, most of the people made their way to the Dormy House to talk a little golf, for a change, and to end the evening in the kitchen, over a traditional post-Dinner plate of bacon and eggs. When I saw Micklem and the Blackwell brothers happily ensconced at the kitchen table, all I could think of was Low, Croome, and Darwin sitting there fifty years before.