The Regency of Taliesin
Andrew Bell, 1994-1995

The term that Andrew Bell's committee inherited from Andrew Jackson's was devoid of speakers; Nikolai Tolstoy was to have been followed by Caitlin Matthews but she had chosen to take time off from speaking engagements. King Pellinor had planned a succession of relaxed events but some, such as the punt debate, were so relaxed that only four people turned up. A little more successful was the quiz evening organised by Geoff as a trial run for a projected Arthurian quiz book. An honourable proportion of the questions were answered correctly; the team made up of King Pellinor and the Lady Elaine of Astolat won the alcoholic prize.

The pilgrimage, again planned by Elspeth, went to South Wales and migrated from youth hostel to youth hostel, taking in a number of sites including Castell Carreg Cennan and perennial favourites Caerleon and Tintern Abbey. Elspeth also embroidered a new Arthurian banner, depicting the Society's name as a dragon, over the vacation; sadly the last substantial contribution she would make to the Society as she and Andrew moved to the Isle of Wight after their wedding in August.

Michaelmas saw Andrew Bell's Regency take shape. He and other new committee members were keen to increase the number of speakers and make the Society a more academic one. In many ways this was the culmination of a trend that had been underway for many years, several committee members having felt that the Society was suffering from a 'New Age' label and would have more members if it had a more serious appeal. Alongside this there was a sense that the Society could perhaps become more 'elegant', Secretary Barbara Lonergan (who had taken over from the elected Chancellor, Sarah Lawrence, when Sarah resigned a few weeks after the 1994 AGM) supporting the replacement of the Punt Party by a Garden Party and a search for more 'authentic' locations for social events that relied less on the imagination and more on real stonework - surprisingly hard to find in Oxford. Some of the committee, however, felt that a wholesale move towards the academic side of the Arthurian legend would damage the Society's sense of community and enjoyment which had increased under Andrew Jackson's leadership. In addition, there were changes of emphasis introduced into the termcard without consultation - the Arthurian titles and names were dropped and the word 'pilgrimage', which had been used from an early date to describe the Society's excursions, was barred as it was felt to be too irreverent.

The first term of the academic year began with a particularly strong speaker, Helen Cooper who spoke on Thomas Malory and brought along a facsimile of the Winchester manuscript. Michael Maclagan returned, despite serious ill-health. However, the third speaker of term, Helen Hollick, had to cancel as a result of fatigue following the publication of her first Arthurian novel, The Kingmaking. The Banquet found a new location, the Turf Tavern in the shadow of the mediaeval city walls. Although the location was good a high number of tickets needed to be sold to make the event viable, and it was felt by some that several of those who attended failed to dress or behave in the spirit of the event; furthermore, the food of the previous self-catered banquets was much missed.

While the Michaelmas termcard was dictated largely by tradition Hilary provided more room for experimentation. Innovations included a reasonably successful cheese and wine evening to introduce members to the library list, which had been rearranged by subject by Matthew Kilburn and Stephie Coane. In keeping with the Regent's speaker policy there were four speakers: the established John Matthews came in as a last-minute replacement for an academic speaker, leading to a very involved debate between Mr Matthews and Treasurer Kalpen Trivedi, who denied the presence of any of the magical elements in 'Gawain and the Green Knight' that John Matthews had spoken on. Kate Flint returned after a long absence to talk about Tennyson and mediaeval French specialist Jane Taylor spoke on Beroul's Tristan. The greatest coup of the term, perhaps, was Stephen Lawhead, author of the Pendragon Quartet who, although living near Oxford, had previously declined to speak to the Society. He proved a very approachable man willing to listen and answer criticism.

Ceridwen's Cauldron was taken over by Stephie Coane, who continued in the tradition of Matthew Kilburn but removed some of the rougher edges of Matthew's editions. Matthew's last act as editor had been to arrange sponsorship for the year from the Past Times retail chain and this enabled the magazine to fund itself for two issues. The Society gained an account for internet access and a home page developed, administered by Stephie. The Celtic Festival was enjoyable, held in the Morley-Fletcher Room in Worcester College, and a weekend pilgrimage (although the latter name wasn't used on the termcard) was made to sites in South East Wales.

Unfortunately by the beginning of Trinity the committee system had almost broken down; the termcard was decided by the President and Secretary with minimal consultation, both a symptom and an exacerbation of the ill-feeling that had developed. This was a pity, as Andrew and Barbara had put a great deal of time and effort into the Society and there is no doubt that many of their plans were misapprehended by their colleagues. To make matters worse, the AGM went ahead with very few candidates and a contested Presidential election. Although membership was slightly up on 1993/94 there were very few new active members to take up the posts, and the future of the Society, having looked brighter than for some time a year before, looked once again bleak.

Committee for 1994-1995

Regent/President         ANDREW BELL (Taliesin)            University

Chancellor/Secretary     SARAH LAWRENCE (Lady Lynet)       Worcester(T94)

			 BARBARA LONERGAN (Lady Nimue)     Worcester

Seneschal/Treasurer      KALPEN TRIVEDI (Sir Arthegall)    Merton

Butler/Soc.Sec.          GRAHAM FORSYTHE (Sir Marhaus)     University(-M94)

			 KAT TAKENAKA (Lady Vivien)	   Balliol (H95-)

Scribe/Editor	         STEPHIE COANE (Queen Argante)     Balliol

Courtiers       	 CRAIG FISHER (Sir Percivale)      Merton

                	 MATTHEW KILBURN (The Fair Unknown)St John's

                	 SARA PHILLP (Queen Ygraine)       University

Vice-Regent     	 ALEXANDRA SCHMIDL (Dame Brangwaine)

Chief Adviser   	 ANDREW JACKSON (King Pellinor)