Monday, September 21, 2015

End of the Piers ?

The Piers Gaveston Society, named after Edward II's favourite (and possibly lover), was founded in 1977. One founder member was Valentine Guinness, son of brewery heir Lord Moyne, then in his first year at Christ Church.

Valentine went to West Downs prep school in Winchester, and then to Eton. At the age of 14 he met Salvador Dali on a holiday at the family-owned 18th century monastery above Cadaques - but nothing untoward happened. Valentine's sister was PA to Andy Warhol, and in 1980, Valentine and US-postgrad Jeffrey Leeds set up another club, The George, which invited the artist to Oxford.

Valentine was in a band called "Panic", and on leaving Oxford, he released a self-penned single "Hey Hey C.T.J" on the Rak label.

Valentine is now lead singer with The New Forbidden, alongside lead guitarist and pasta sauce king Loyd Grossman, once again appearing at the Avalon Cafe in Glastonbury this year.

The biggest public event held by the Piers Gaveston Society seems to have been their 1983 ball, held at that den of iniquity, the Park Lane Hotel on Mayfair, and captured on camera by photographer Dafydd Jones. The dress code was "Garden of Earthly Delights", and paying guests included Nigella Lawson, Hugh Grant, Annabel Heseltine, and, yes, Geordie Greig, currently editor of The Mail On Sunday.

I can find no record of Gaveston events from 1985 to 1988, when David Cameron was at Brasenose.

Sasha Slater, now deputy editor of Harper's Bazaar, recalls a Piers Gaveston event from her Oxford days (1990 to 1994). "While I was an undergraduate, Nat Rothschild hosted it at one of his many properties, a set of farm outbuildings that were illuminated for the night by candles stuck in pigs' heads. I drove, which meant at the end of the evening I had to rescue about 11 male friends, one of whom, a strapping 6ft 3in man, dressed in a nightie, was sitting in a muddy cowbyre weeping and begging 'Please take me home'. "

Sasha emerged with a double first in modern languages.

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