Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Snowball Effect

While strolling along Lamb's Conduit Street in Bloomsbury on Saturday last, looking for a likely place to enjoy a leisurely coffee before The Lamb opened its doors at 12 noon, it crossed my mind that I might bump into Cynthia Greenwood.  This has happened on several previous occasions, as Cynthia and I seem to have a mysterious empathy when a desire for liquid refreshment strikes us.

Standing on the corner (not, as far as I know, watching all the girls go by), was that doyen of the War Poets Association, David Worthington, who informed me that he was awaiting the arrival of two friends, who were late for their appointment.  It was just then that one of these much-maligned friends greeted David from the doorway of the cafe (they had been awaiting him within while he enjoyed some spring sunshine at an outside table). True to form, who should be sitting at the next table but Cynthia?

Before long, another member had been waylaid on his way to The Lamb, and the snowball effect was beginning to be noticeable. It struck me that this is an effect well illustrated by the growth in SSF membership (and no doubt the growth of many other literary societies). A member once commented to me that "once you start coming to these things, you can't stop." Addictive, this literature business.

It certainly seems to be the case with The Lamb.  For those of you who wonder why we are still holding meetings in the upstairs room of a pub with limited space (and I'm asked as regularly as clockwork), the answer is that affordable venues in London are not easy to come by. This is not our annual conference, and it is priced accordingly. It was conceived as a cheap and cheerful members-only event, and demand sometimes exceeds supply, but we usually manage to squeeze everyone in somehow.  Moreover, we nearly always have attendees who have never been to a WOA or SSF meeting before, which is remarkable.

So, if you are thinking "maybe next year", what can you expect to find on your arrival?  I cannot deny that there will be quite a few people milling around trying to find seats.  If you are having lunch, I cannot guarantee when your meal will come out of the kitchen (relative to everyone else's) but I can guarantee that it will be worth waiting for when it does.  I can also promise that there will be a lot of noise - it generally takes twenty seconds or so before the whole room becomes aware that the Chair is trying to speak.  You can, however, be sure that what comes out of her mouth will be sensible.

You can look forward to hearing good speakers, and the variety of subject matter is notable.  Men and women from various backgrounds, both academic and "ordinary", have addressed the group in recent years, on topics ranging from the influence of the classics on poets of the First World War to the nefarious activities of Siegfried Sassoon's lover Stephen Tennant.  This year, Dr Paul Norgate and sculptor Anthony Padgett kept us entertained and interested for a couple of hours, and we rounded off the meeting with a few drinks in the downstairs bar.

At this point, you may be expecting me to tell you about the talks we heard at The Lamb on 2nd April.  However, if you are a member of either the WOA or SSF, you will be able to read all about these in the next edition of Siegfried's Journal.  If, on the other hand, you are not yet a member... You know, you really should join us.

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