Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sepia Saturday 296 : A Nascent Ephemerist And An Ecclesiastical Menu

On Thursday the 30th of October 1975, the Lord Bishop of Rochester settled down to a glass of Liebfraumilch Rosenhag (1972), some Chassagne Montrachet (1967), and, once the ladies had retired, a glass of Taylors Crusted Port. I share this information with you in the hope of connecting - however obtuse that connection may be - with the Sepia Saturday theme for this week which is a wine bottle label.

Not only can I enlighten you to the said Lord Bishop's liquid intake that evening, I can tell you what he had to eat as well. There was Creme Vichyssoise, a salmon and cucumber mousse, a chunk of venison, followed by orange sorbet and cheese ramequins. And if you are beginning to proclaim "too much information", I can top it all off by telling you that whilst he chewed away on his leg of venison he was listening to a military band play selections from Ronald Hamner's "The Oak And The Rose". I can tell you all this because I recently bought on eBay a selection of the late Lord Bishop's collected menus.


In the cold light of day, I am not sure which is odder : to have a collection of menus, to put such a collection up for sale years after the ecclesiastical diner has passed the final port, or to buy such a collection. I suspect it is the latter, but oddness is a charge I have pleaded guilty to throughout my life and the investment of a couple of quid was worth it to help me progress towards my goal of becoming an ephemerist.

As I have explained before, an ephemerist is someone who collects useless bits of paper in the belief that what others see as useless is the very essence of historical usefulness. Any Rothschild can collect Faberge eggs, any Saatchi can amass modern art, but a takes a slightly odd person, an ephemerist, to collect ecclesiastical menus.


Not only do I have the menu from the Centenary Dinner of the Institution Of Royal Engineers but I have the typed notes issued to the Bishop which includes such instructions as "10.10 MUST LEAVE DINING ROOM as some guests and members have to catch trains from 10.38 onwards (Hosts have been warned to ensure guests catch their trains regardless of "state of play")". You would never get detail like that etched on a Krugerrand.

So I ask you to raise a glass of Chassagne Montrachet to the late Lord Bishop and a glass of Liebfraumilch to the launch of Alan Burnett as an ephemerist and noted collector of ecclesiastic menus.

Whilst you let your cheese ramequins digest and you sip on your crusted port, why not wander over to look at what other Sepian are posting on the Sepia Saturday Blog.

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. So now you need to find the timetable so you know where the 10.38 went and the guest list? You can exclude me as I had just started medical school and was up to my arms in dissection.....

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  3. I'm an ephemerist, too, Alan! But I draw the line at ecclesiastical ephemery. (Say THAT five times fast after a few glasses of Chassagne Montrachet!)

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  4. Three cheers for the ephemerist !!! How else can history know about fanfares before dinner and the digestive effect of train times unless some one like you pays attention to the details of ecclesiastic life. One of your best, Alan!


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  5. I will now write "ephemerist" on all forms that require a listing of work.

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  6. I am continually amazed as to the number of people who put menus in their pockets before they boarded the Titanic life boats. Maybe they stole menus regularly to record their life's adventures.

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  7. From wine label to menu, I've enjoyed this conversation. But now I must go refill my glass, which of course was only half empty.

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  8. Your collection of menus made me smile.

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  9. I laughed out loud...several times....you are an inspiration. Methinks I can feel a new hobby taking form ;)

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  10. Ah now I know I am an ephemerist when I secrete the menu from some function or other - not just a hoarder! I wonder if the GLW would agree though.

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  11. I approve more than I can say of ephemerists. But to what organisation do you leave the originals in your will?

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  12. Are you an ephemerist if you collect your own menus, eg. menus from functions you have attended, or do they have to be from strangers? I was recently poking around in a shop that was jam packed full of old postcards and albums of ephemera, and wondering at the time who on earth would possibly want to buy that kind of thing. Now I know.

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  13. If nothing else, this menu makes me glad I was not invited. If it weren't for the venison and orange sherbet, I might have gone hungry .

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  14. Never feel out of place for what you collect. You have set yourself a challenge of unique items. Collecting menus is very common. I even have a book done by a famous graphic designer/collector that is nothing but menus. Yours goes beyond just visual. You get to know something about the event. Great fun!

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