Punch, November 2, 1904
[At the banquet given by the “Pilgrims” to the officers of the American Squadron the waiters ware dressed as sailors, and the tables were shaped like battleships.]
It was a happy thought of the Bachelors’ Club to give a dinner in honour of Colonel Younghusband’s return from Tibet, and the manner in which the “effects” were carried out deserves no little commendation. Mr. Gillette, superbly made-up as the Dalai Lama, took the chair, the rest of the members, appropriately in such a temple of celibacy as the Bachelors’, representing monks. From time to time showers of stage snow (kindly lent by The Hand of Blood No. 1 Travelling Company) fell from above upon the table, and it was pleasant to see the tactful way in which the gallant Colonel dodged such particles as remained in his soup. The liveliness of the proceedings was further enhanced by the constant firing of jongs by trained marksmen stationed in the doorway. The club waiters, in the character of snow leopards and other wild beasts such as infest the desolate regions of the Chumbi Pass, played their part admirably. Indeed, their practice of springing with a howl on to the shoulders of the diners as a prelude to offering them the choice between claret and hock, may perhaps be termed almost too realistic.
The banquet held in the Pavilion at Lord’s by the M.C.C. to commemorate the retention of the ashes was a complete success. The tables were shaped like bats. Instead of chairs, the guests sat on the splice. All the waiters, made up as umpires, were required to have a well-marked crease in their trousers. Much interest was aroused by the novel manner of “helping” inaugurated on this occasion. Directly the brief grace “Play!” had been pronounced by the Rev. F. H. Gillingham, plates full of deliciously appetising comestibles began to fly across the room, urged by the trained hands of first-class fast bowlers. The fielding on the whole was excellent, except that there were no slips between the cup and the lip, and Mr. Bosanquet should have got both hands to the savoury.
At the complimentary dinner given by the Home Office to Mr. Adolf Beck only waiters whose names were John Smith were engaged, and Mr. W. Clarkson made them all exactly like each other and Mr. Beck—with the exception of a few unimportant details, such as the shape of the nose, the colour of the eyes and hair, the size of the head, and the position of the gooseberry marks.
Unsigned article as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 127 of Punch.
“BANQUET AT THE SAVOY HOTEL. Nowadays no entertainment of distinguished American visitors to this country is complete until “The Pilgrims,” a social body formed to promote good feeling between the two countries on each side of the Atlantic, have feted the exiles, and consequently the dinner given to Rear-Admiral Jewell and officers of the American Squadron last night rounded off the many festivities to which the commander and men of the Olympia have been invited during the last two or three weeks. Lord Selborne, the First Lord of the Admiralty, presided and the 180 guests included many people famous in arts and letters. (Several attendees named, including Sir A. Conan Doyle.) The management had converted the whole place into the picture of a mimic fleet of battleships. The tables had been specially made in the shape of men-of-war, blunt at the stern and sharp at the fore. To complete the picture, the waiters were dressed in blue and white sailor costumes.” (Abridged from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, October 26, 1904)
Colonel Younghusband: Francis Edward Younghusband (1863–1942), leader of the 1904 British expedition to Tibet.
Mr. Gillette: surely a reference to American actor William Gillette (1853–1937), who dramatized “Sherlock Holmes” and played him some 1,300 times on stage. Conan Doyle had revealed in 1903 that Holmes had travelled to Tibet for two years, spending some time with the head “Llama” ([sic], a famous misprint in the Strand). So Gillette as the Dalai Lama is an obvious bit of casting.
F. H. Gillingham: a distinguished English cricketer and churchman (1875–1953); at this time curate at Leyton and a 1903 player for the Essex championship side; his highest innings was 201 against Middlesex at Lord’s in 1904. Appointed Chaplain to King George VI in 1939.
Bosanquet: Bernard Bosanquet (1877–1936), Middlesex cricketer and inventor of the googly, which began to attract notice in 1903 when he bowled it on the M.C.C. tour of Australia, 1903–1904.
Adolf Beck; John Smith: A complicated case of mistaken criminal conviction, impossible to summarize in a few lines here, except to say that Beck was believed to be a known swindler previously sentenced under the name John Smith. See Wikipedia. Beck was pardoned in July 1904 and compensated by the Crown for his false imprisonment.
W. Clarkson: Willy Clarkson (1861–1934), master London theatrical costumier and wigmaker; the foundation stone of his new building in Wardour Street was laid by Sarah Bernhardt in 1904. More on Clarkson and his wigs.