The annual Brontë Group Christmas Lunch took place last Saturday, 3 December. Around 40 members turned up to enjoy a three-course meal, drinks and entertainment. As usual, master of ceremonies Jones Hayden had planned a varied menu of entertainment.
|Paul in his Christmas outfit!|
Paul started by giving us a little bit of literary history. He read us Robert Southey's The Old Man's Comforts – and How He Gained Them, beginning 'You are old, Father William, the young man cried/The few locks which are left you are grey', followed by Lewis Carroll's much better-known parody of this worthy poem. Paul provided a hand-out in which we could compare John Tenniel's illustrations for the verses with Carroll's own. He also provided a Brontë link by reminding us of Southey's often-quoted words to the young Charlotte Brontë: 'Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be'.
|Introduction by Helen|
Fortified by the restaurant's starter as well as by Paul's entrée, we launched into the quiz prepared by Jones. Already the atmosphere was almost lifting the roof. It rose even further when we embarked on the main course and were given a rendering of Jane Eyre Abbreviated by John Crace, author of the Guardian's 'Digested Reads' column. Stella, Kate and Ola shared the reading of this irreverent version of Charlotte Brontë's best-seller. Much appreciated.
|Jones guiding us along!|
In between the main course and the dessert Jones guided us through the quiz answers. If we think that by now we know everything there is to know about the Brontës, we soon become aware that we don't!
After the dessert it was time for the raffles. There were wonderful book prizes: the Brontë Society's Celebrating Charlotte: Transforming Life into Literature in Jane Eyre (published this year), a lavishly illustrated book that links elements of the novel to Charlotte's real-life experience; The Brontës: a Life in Letters, Juliet Barker's selection of letters of the whole family, and John Sutherland's newly-published Brontë miscellany The Brontesaurus: An A-Z of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë (and Branwell). Also among the prizes was a framed print of one of Selena Busch's wonderful drawings recreating the Pensionnat. The lucky winners went home very happy.
|Happy Brontë fans!|
We ended the lunch by singing the traditional Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.
After three and a half hours we ventured happily home through the darkening streets of Brussels. Yet another memorable Christmas lunch, giving us time to wish our Brontë friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Looking forward to new events in 2017. The 200th anniversary of Branwell's birth will be on the programme. Hope to see you next year!
From All of Us to All of You!
Happy New Year