The Regency of Merlin II
Neil Thapen 1995-1996

Several Arthurians were surprised when Neil emerged as President from the 1995 AGM. His victory can be ascribed to a well-managed, if short, campaign which mobilised his absentee vote to give him a small majority over Kat Takenaka. Many regretted the contested election altogether, feeling that the Society was too weak to sustain it, and a meeting of the old committee had to be convened to appoint a new team. Most of the younger active members of the Society chose to withdraw from involvement with the Arthurians at this stage, despite the election of a Regent whose outlook seemed at first more in harmony with their own than with the veterans who took up most of the committee places. Matthew returned as Secretary, Stephie became Treasurer and Kalpen became Magazine Editor although he had to leave Oxford after finals, never editing an issue, and in the event Stephie endured in that post as well for the remainder of Neil's Regency.

It had been intended that the new Regency would begin with a Garden Party, but this event was scaled down thanks to bad weather and work crises and instead the food was consumed in Stephie's room in Holywell Manor. Speakers in Trinity 1995 included Thomas Charles-Edwards. fellow of Corpus Christi College, on politics and culture in Dark Age Britain and Ireland, Cyril Edwards, in between posts at Goldsmith's, London, and Merton, Oxford, on Arthurian cinema, and the actor Mark Ryan, best known as Nasir in the 1980s TV series Robin of Sherwood, but who also appeared in the then-unreleased First Knight and brought along swords from both productions. The Quest was reinvented as a pub-based treasure hunt, members of the outgoing committee having felt that the old live role-playing event was too unconventional; the event was enjoyed just as much as its predecessors.

The Summer Pilgrimage was conceived in part as a reaction to the previous pilgrimages as organised by Elspeth. Rigorous planning was rejected and replaced with a more laissez-faire approach, as the Society chose to stay in a single place rather than move from youth hostel to youth hostel. The destination on this occasion was again Cornwall.

The most dramatic change in the Society's calendar was a move of meeting day from Thursday to Wednesday. It was noted that there had been more people than in previous years at the Introductory Meeting of 1994, which had been held on a Wednesday, and it was hoped that more people would remain loyal as there seemed to be fewer societies meeting on that day. The move was also necessary to retain Kat Takenaka as an active committee member, as she had accepted a post at the Role-Playing Games Society which entailed her attending their meeting on Thursdays. The move brought little change to the Society's lacklustre attendance figures, however, though there were one or two more regular attendees.

The speaker programme was guided both by Neil and Matthew and an attempt was made to have a broader and more challenging range of speakers. These included old favourites like Elspeth Kennedy and John Matthews (whose slide presentation on Arthurian landscapes seemed almost as well-attended as the Mark Ryan meeting) but also the folklorist Juliette Wood, whose criticism of neo-Celtic writing on King Arthur flustered some attendees, and novelists Haydn Middleton and Robert Holdstock.

The Banquet this year was held in St Giles's Hall and was 'self-catered' - largely by Stephie. It was thought of as a very successful event, blending elements of the previous year's Banquet at the Turf with the earlier events at St Margaret's Institute. A Celtic Festival followed at the same venue in Hilary.

Committee for 1995-96

President/Regent:	NEIL THAPEN (Merlin) 			Merton

Secretary/Chancellor:	MATTHEW KILBURN	(The Fair Unknown)	St John's

Treasurer/Seneschal:	STEPHIE COANE (Lady Argante)		Balliol

Social Secretary/Butler:KAT TAKENAKA (Lady Vivien)		Balliol

Magazine Editor/Scribe: KALPEN TRIVEDI (Sir Arthegall)		Merton (-T95)

			STEPHIE COANE (Lady Argante)		Balliol

Publicity/Herald:	ANDREW McMURRY (Sir Lohengrin)		Balliol

Librarian:		MATTHEW KILBURN (The Fair Unknown)	St John's

Chief Adviser:		ANDREW BELL (Taliesin)			University