Even that august body the R.A.C. has to unbend at times. The customary time for this “humanizing “to take place, it would seem, is at its Annual General Meeting. Indeed, so diverting have these assemblies become on recent occasions, that we have heard a rumour concerning Entertainment Tax….. At last year’s meeting, which was called to pass the annual report and the balance-sheet, the chief topic of discussion turned out to be “cold apple tart on cold winter days.”
Scarcely less irrelevant were many of the topics at this year’s gathering, which had been convened with the same seemly intentions as heretofore.
Mr. Gavin W. Ralston—who stated that he was a lawyer—first protested, to Sir Arthur Stanley, who Presided over the meeting, that he had lodged his nomination for the Committee on a certain date and had subsequently been informed that he had failed to comply with the rule, requiring that 21 days’ notice shall be given.
Sir Thomas Berridge thereupon quoted a dictum in the High Courts of Justice in 1893, that twenty-one clear days were required, and added that the nomination was therefore out of order.
Mr. Ralston retorted with alacrity that he was glad to see the Committee relying upon a High Court judgment, as, according to another rule, the Committee itself were constituted sole arbiters in the interpretation of the rules.
Sir Arthur Stanley drew the members’ attention to the fact that the Club, for the first time for a number of years, had made a profit on the year’s working, this amounting to £11,000. He stated that as a consequence, they had now been enabled to redecorate the Clubhouse, fit out additional premises for the Touring Department, an extra smoking-room, and a billiardsroom; and that they were moving the library to the first floor.
Then was the voice of Mr. Ralston heard again. This time it was in complaint about the converting of the library into a card-room, on the grounds that members, other than “those of somnolent habits who used it as a dormitory,” were thereby deprived of the use of the balcony.
At this point, Sir Bruce Bruce-Porter deemed it propitious to interrupt with a few observations. But the even flow of Mr. Ralston’s eloquence was in no wise disturbed, and he proceeded to suggest, or rather to plead, that the grounds of the County Club be utilised for the purpose of growing vegetables.
Mr. Ralston then moved on to a highly indignant phase of his monologue, when he scourged the Club for its inability to provide hot bacon sandwiches in the smoking-room at a quarter-to-twelve at night. It appeared that he had been refused these delicacies on the authority of Captain d’Aeth, chairman of the cardroom committee, although, according to the rules, sandwiches (hot or cold) could be served “from 9 p.m.” ” D’A eth where is thy sting ? ” inquired Mr. Ralston.
At this stage, numerous voices raised in interruption, led to the remark that the speaker was making good the mental deficiencies of the members. This remark was, of course, immediately withdrawn—and quite in due formality, the report was adopted.
Then Sir Bruce Bruce-Porter moved that the accounts be adopted.
Promptly Mr. Ralston again took his cue.
This time he objected, quoting the Companies Act of 1908 in support of his grievance that no details of the Club officials’ salaries were given in the accounts, and that the balance-sheet was not in order and should be referred back. This was followed by a lunge at the House Committee, and the thrust that he regarded the work of the Committee as the play of “Faust,” with Sir Thomas Berridge cast in the role of” Mephistopheles.”
Nevertheless, the loquacious Mr. Ralston was unsuccessful in finding a seconder, and the accounts were passed.
Thus is there merriment, even within the marble halls of Pall Mall.