Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Eccentric Lords

Whilst awaiting a response to my initial email, my bid to join The Eccentric Club had me asking myself one pivotal question. Does being a Lord and being an eccentric go hand in hand?

I hadn't considered this question prior to my discovery of this illustrious club; but the more research I did, the more I realised that becoming an eccentric was probably integral to my continuous development as a Lord. Especially if I wanted to get closer to achieving the goals I had set myself at the start of my project. After all, it was obvious I would need to meet other Lords at some point in order to do this, and with no success coming by way of a positive response from The House of Lords administrators, The Eccentric Club appeared by far and away my most likely source.

I started rummaging through the club's list of members, past and present, as well as looking for 'Lords' via the Google search engine. Before long I was able to go some way towards answering my pivotal question. It appeared eccentricity was quite a common trait amongst pretty much every person I happened to read about. Here are just a few select examples:

Lord Lonsdale (1857-1944) - Member and one-time President of The Eccentric Club



Lord Lonsdale was an iconic member of the Eccentrics. He was known as 'The Yellow Earl' for his love of the colour yellow, and was an avid fan and participant in various sports, not least boxing (during the days when it was still illegal to participate) where he became such an important figure that a certain boxing equipment company was named after him. He had brief stints at being chairman of Arsenal Football Club and President of the AA (who adopted the colour yellow in his honour) and was a lover of cigars and foxhunting. He was also known for his part in a now 'infamous' wager with another eccentric over whether a man could circumnavigate the globe and remain unidentified.

Lord Bath (1932 - present) - Associate of The Eccentric Club

Lord Bath is perhaps the most instantly recognisable of all the Lords, often being publicised in the national media for some of his suggested eccentricities, but more accurately known as the owner of Longleat House, and the land in which Longleat Safari Park resides. He is well-renowned for undertaking the writing of what could potentially be the most monumental of all autobiographies (although not yet complete) which, at last count, was over six million words long.

Lord Berners - (1883 - 1950) Frequent Guest of The Eccentric Club



Lord Berners was arguably the most eccentric of all the Eccentric Club affiliates, renowned for his talents as a composer, novelist, painter and aesthete. He developed a taste for unique behaviour from a very young age; and undertook experiments such as trying to teach his dog to fly by throwing it from a window (based on the premise that if you throw a dog into water, it instantly learns to swim). As far as is known, some of his experiments were failures. In later life, he was the owner of a pet giraffe and was believed to have had a 100 foot viewing tower constructed outside his house with a notice at the entrance reading: “Members of the Public committing suicide from this tower do so at their own risk."

Lord Longford (1905 - 2001) - Not affiliated with the club, but still eccentric


Lord Longford, left, with the Queen and Princess Anne

Lord Longford, though on occasions deemed to be highly controversial, is remembered for his acts of liberalism and most of all, his strong beliefs. It is said he was a man of paradoxes, having been born and raised an aristocrat, a Protestant, a Conservative and a supporter of British control in Northern Ireland, only to end up becoming a Roman Catholic, a socialist, and a backer of the Irish Republic. He is also well-renowned for his slightly bizarre 30 year-long efforts to secure the release from jail of Moors murderer Myra Hindley.

Unfairly nicknamed 'Lord Porn' in the 1970's for his attempts to have pornography banned because of its degrading nature, he was also famous for his 'Pakenham Leap' during World War Two, where, on landing in Germany to take up a new post, he failed to notice that there was a delay in the wheeling out of the plane's door-steps, only to walk out and fall ten feet through the air onto his face; smashing his spectacles in the process. Whatever appears to be said about the man, there is no denying it is a commonly agreed fact that his life was riddled with acts of eccentricity.

Lord Christopher Ward

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Eccentric Club

Eventually, after a week of waiting, I received a response from the House of Lords regarding the email I had sent them about my recent purchase of a title and my request for a seat within the house:

'Thanks for your email. For information with regards to inheriting a title please contact the Head of the Crown Office, email address: ************'

It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. I forwarded the original email on to the personal address they had given me, and sat back to ponder what my next step was going to be.

Suddenly, as if by magic, an email (from a source that will remain nameless) appeared, with the web address of a prestigious club it was assumed I might be wise to check out with more than a little detail. I clicked on the link.

'The Eccentric Club'

I had never heard of this club before. I mean I'd heard of 'The Brilliants', but 'The Eccentrics'? I wanted to know more. I read about the club's history: - formally known as 'The Illustrious Society of Eccentrics', it seems that anyone who is anyone in the peerage and gentlemen's game has been associated with this Mayfair-based organisation for over two hundred years now.
Having only recently been resurrected in 2008 from 19 years in the 'gentlemen's club wilderness' (the old club had been made homeless before finally finding an agreement to share house with 'The Art's Club' on 40 Dover Street, London), the club operates with the sole intention of being a meeting point for many great and original minds, (and as the website specifies, a place for 'the cultivation of eccentricity').

I was slowly becoming open to the possibilities of the club. I read on. The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles were honorary lifelong members. This was serious stuff. I read the list of actual members: Charles James Fox, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, William Lamb (Lord Melbourne), Lord Melbourne?! It had Lords as members? I continued reading the list; Lord Denman, Lord Campbell... There were plenty of members who were Lords, this was perfect!

I had a brainwave; I would check out what I would need to do to apply. I clicked on the 'contact' page and wrote them an email explaining my situation, as well as my credentials for potentially joining and becoming an 'eccentric'. I suddenly envisaged myself as the new Phileas Fogg (or perhaps Willy Fog, the animated lion version); making high-stake bets with other Lords over rights to estates and access to the 'special key' to Buckingham Palace (have you heard about that rumour?). It could be amazing. So what if the House of Lords don't instantly take to me? I had another way in that was just as exciting. Another route to improving my life through the use of my title. I would bid to become a member of The Eccentric Club.


Man with a birdcage on his head.
Just another member of the 'The Eccentric Club'.
For more information click on the photo and follow the link.

Lord Christopher Ward

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

An email to the House of Lords

Contact: 17th November 2009

http://www.parliament.uk/site_information/contact_us.cfm

Hi.

I recently became a Lord and was wondering whether there is any obligatory tasks I now need to adhere to?

I was also hoping to take up a seat in the House of Lords but, as I understand, it isn't as simple as just turning up and mucking in. Could you tell me the process I need to undertake in which to secure myself a seat in the House (it needn't be permanent, however it would be nice to make my presence felt once or twice)as I would like to have some involvement.

Please get back to me on this as soon as you can.

Thanks and regards,

Lord Christopher Ward

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Two Lords on Campus

I had been waiting for this moment for a while. Nearly three weeks in fact, since I sent the paperwork off. It had been a nervous wait too, because I felt that it was an important part of being able to prove to people that this was real, that it was official. But then the letter arrived yesterday, and the surreal yet momentus feeling hasn't gone away since. The DVLA. My new title recognised by a governmental office. It may as well have been a personal letter from the queen. I reached inside, and there was the card, held down with that unnecessarily sticky glue they use, and still bearing that picture of me as a 15 year old that I have been told I’m not allowed to update until the renewal of the card at the end of 2010:


Me aged 15. More attractive now, ten years on? The title probably helps.

I stood in the porter’s office where I collect my post savouring the moment, my mind swimming with ideas. Lord Christopher Ian Ward. Where could this take me? I instantly thought of an email I was due to send to the House of Lords. I could send it now. I had proof to back it up. The two porters stared at me from behind their desks.

‘What are you so happy about?’ The female porter asked.

‘Oh it’s nothing, I just...’

‘Do we have to bow to you, by the way?’

‘Sorry?’

‘Do we have to bow to you? I saw your post was addressed to Lord Ward. The other Lord says we should bow to him. I don’t. The day I bow to a student is the day I die...’

‘Hang on. What was that?’ I was confused. What was she talking about?

‘The day I bow to a stu...’

‘No the bit about the other lord. What did you mean when you said that?’

‘The other lord that lives here on campus. Can’t believe there are two of you. We’re just so privileged here in Falmouth.’

‘There is a Lord living here on campus?!’

‘Well yeah, there’s you and then there’s the other one.’

There was another Lord on campus. I couldn’t quite believe it. A student too. I was already close to achieving half of my goal (finding some Lords I could relate to), and the other part was falling into place (using my title to improve my life) with the official documentation I had in my hand with my picture on it. This day was fast proving to be quite monumental.

‘Another Lord, no way! What’s his name?’

‘Oh I can’t tell you that. Part of the rules I’m afraid. No divulging of information related to our tenants.’

What? That was ridiculous. Classic British bureaucracy. But then I shouldn’t complain; it was after all the Lords that were partly responsible for passing the laws in this country.

‘You can’t even give me a hint?’ I asked, trying my best to be as suave as possible, hoping this woman might crack under a little bit of friendly persuasion.

‘Yeah sure,’ she said. ‘His first name is...Lord.’

Damn it. Another Lord on campus and I didn’t know his name. Still there were only 1200 of us living here, he couldn’t be all that hard to find, right? I thanked the porters and went on my merry way with two plans of action fresh in my mind. Send that email and get my invite to the House of Lords. Then track down my new friend, my fellow Lord, and find out, from someone who was no doubt more experienced then I was in this game, exactly what being a person of high stature entails...



How my letters will look from now on

Lord Christopher Ward

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The House of Lords

So, call me naive, but in trying to find some other people with titles who I could relate to, I really hadn't considered the world I was submerging myself in. This was a world steeped in tradition and importance, a world rich in history. Also, a world that has caused hundreds of years of controversy and even spite; sometimes justified, sometimes not. A very British world. This was the world of peerage; the world of people in possession of a title.

I asked myself a question early on. Does a boy from Reading with no illustrious ancestry or family heritage actually belong in this world? Maybe not at first glance. It seemed like the majority of nobles just simply inherited their titles; titles even the Internet couldn't grant you. You can never become an Earl or a Baron, for instance. Imagine that.

I then found out 'the Duke' Kahanamoku (check blog #2) wasn't an actual Duke, which depressed me slightly, because I had been holding on to knowing I had at least one noble with something in common, right from the start. With no names appearing (past or present) when 'Lords who surf or are students' was typed into Google, I figured my research may need to be a little more thorough. It was possible I might need to get in amongst the other Lords, for instance. Talk to them. Find out what they do ,and whether life is good.

I searched the Internet once again, and instantly stumbled upon Debrett's guide to peerage. The indefinite guide to anyone who possesses a title. This could perhaps help me. At first I wasn't entirely sure of its accuracy though, as I couldn't find my name anywhere on their list. But then I saw they were advertising on their website the list of 'People for 2010', so I guessed my name would probably be included in that list instead, plus the site looked so professional.


Debrett's. Useful source for people like me.

You see, Debrett's is not just handy for finding out the names of people who have titles, it also helps with etiquette, which I read is important if you are to become someone of noble stature. I took note. 'Always pay your cleaner on time'. That seemed fairly standard, easy to do. 'Never embarrass work colleagues by discussing inappropriate topics'. There may be some things I would need to work on for the future.

My eyes wandered to the top of the website which said something about the House of Lords and it suddenly hit me. That's what i need to do! I need to get myself into the place that is full of Lords. That would make my plan so much easier. Plus I was one of them, right? Surely there was a legal obligation for me to be present there at some point anyway? Initially I figured, just book a train ticket to London and head on down, but then common sense prevailed. Contact them first. Debrett's told me that would be good etiquette. You always make sure its OK to just show up somewhere, before actually doing so...

Lord Christopher Ward

Monday, 2 November 2009

The Company I Keep

Today I sent my deeds to the DVLA. A request for formality; a driving licence with my title on it. Final proof that I am indeed a Lord.

Sat at my computer, I felt compelled to do a little research. What is a Lord? Who else shares this title? I felt privileged to be in such an exclusive club, yet I couldn't help thinking I knew little about the others in my gang. I started to wonder. Would we get on? Would I have anything in common with my fellow Lords?

Of course there is Lord Archer - I suppose we have something in common. We share a love for writing for one thing; not to mention a dislike for certain tabloid newspapers. Yet I couldn't see how his life mirrored mine in any other way. I thought of Lord Mandelson - Seems a nice enough man. But where are our similarities? I am no politician. Plus he studied at Oxford; philosophy or something. The closest I ever came to being philosophical in Oxford was watching Reading Football Club play Oxford United at the old Manor Ground on a damp Tuesday evening; trying to come to terms with exactly why the man stood next to me felt the need to urinate into a cup and then throw it onto the field midway through the game.

This was beginning to worry me slightly (not the urinating, I recovered from that particular trauma years ago). I had to find some common ground. I thought of being a student. Were there any other Lords out there as unemployable as me right now? I thought maybe not. Probably none that lived off £40 a week like I did. What about surfers? There had to be another Lord who surfed. I racked my brains but I could only think of 'The Duke' Kahanamoku; and I wasn't even sure if he was a real Duke. I had to find out. This was where I would begin my research. I decided I would then do everything in my power to find some Lords I could actually relate to...


'The Duke' courtesy of Surfing Museum (click picture for link)

Lord Christopher Ward

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

In the Beginning...

The deeds came through the post way back in April. The envelope looked formal and held an air of significance. It was official. I had become a Lord. A feeling more momentous than when I found out I had become a first class Bachelor of Science a few years ago.

Yet all I had done was purchase my title on the Internet. I felt like a fraud. Stealing myself a piece of social standing and a square foot of land in Scotland for just £29.99. Surely this couldn't be legitimate? Surely I wasn't actually a Lord?


The deeds

I scanned through the accompanying information pack and there it was. The Master Title Deed. The statement of intent for me to change my name by Deed Poll. I panicked. Was I ready to commit to this? It definitely was legitimate. I had only bought it to compete with the fact that my brother had recently become a doctor. I decided to hide the envelope away in a filing cabinet for a while.

Then I became a student for the second time, as a postgraduate. Soon enough the title made its way back into my subconscious. See as a student, your rank in society suddenly plummets. The public turn their noses up at you and the poverty line becomes a genuine issue once again. Not only a student but a surfer too. The glares of contempt seemed to take on double their intensity.

This had to change. I was a Lord now for Gods sake. Surely other Lords didn't have to put up with being called student surfer scumbags? There had to be privileges I was missing out on. I pulled that envelope out from the filing cabinet and studied the Master Title Deed a final time. It was time to take this thing seriously. Time to explore what being a Lord was all about.

Lord Christopher Ward

Followers

There was an error in this gadget

About Me

My photo
For those of you who are new to knowing me, I am Lord Christopher Ward. Second in line to the internet throne, third in line at the post office on a Wednesday morning. Currently a student studying Professional Writing in Falmouth, Cornwall, I envisage a world where I can surf, write, and use my title to get me free stuff. Just don't ask me how I got here; my memory is warped from time to time.