Monday, September 21, 2015


Looking forward to Sebastian Shakespeare in the Mail tomorrow. Whilst at the Evening Standard, the diarist admitted to attending a drinks party hosted by Count Gottfried von Bismarck, a member of the Piers Gaveston Society, when he was a student at Oxford University. No date given, but the Count was at Christ Church from 1983 to 1986.

"Count von Bismarck was part of the racy set and you needed a trust fund just to keep up with their hedonistic lifestyle. I had barely met Gottfried when one day, out of the blue, I received in my pigeonhole a giltedged, embossed invitation to a drinks party he was hosting at Christ Church.

"This was clearly in a different league from your normal student party. To my amazement, the creme de la creme of Oxford were in attendance including Princess Diana's brother Viscount Spencer, Old Etonian Darius Guppy, Sebastian Guinness and his cousin Olivia Channon.

"However it wasn't the guest list that attracted my attention so much as the severed pigs' heads on either end of the banqueting table, emulating a Bavarian hunting party. No expense was spared when it came to the lavish spread. There were even some crumbs left over for the tabloids. "Dracula's Feast for the Count" was the headline in the following weekend's News of the World. "The two toffs sat toasting themselves as the blood dripped onto the food," noted the lascivious reporter.

"The evening ended in predictable debauchery. I made my excuses and stayed. And stayed. It was my first taste of high society and low morals."

"It was perhaps fitting that he should study at Christ Church. Historically, the college was renowned for its binge-drinking, strangers puking through your window and the baying of tipsy toffs of the infamous Bullingdon club in full cry........ The young count became a member of the louche Piers Gaveston Society, whose members often wore rubber and carried whips, and he was also known to attend Bullingdon Club dinners. After his pigs' heads party I met him in various incarnations on the party circuit. Whether dressed up in lederhosen or fishnet stockings, he was always charm personified and scintillating company."

Sebastian dated Rachel Johnson at Oxford - she was at New College. When Olivia Channon was found dead from a heroin overdose in the Count's Christ Church rooms in 1986, Rachel was commissioned by Lord Weidenfield to pull together a book called The Oxford Myth. Our Seb wrote a chapter on eccentrics; her brother Boris wrote one on student politics and the Oxford Union, and his first wife-to-be, Allegra Mostyn-Owen wrote a piece on drugs.

Rachel's own essay in the book was on sex, and she wrote about Chapsoc, the Cheese and Wine Appreciation Society...."easily the raunchiest society in Oxford, far surpassing the tame transvestism of the Piers Gaveston way...the Bacchanalian quality of its meetings derives not so much from the amount of wine drunk as from the sexual excitement generated by the proximity of so many secretaries. Rendered incapable of small talk, difficult at the best of times in noisy rooms, the boys throw French sticks and packets of supermarket cheese at the girls they fancy".

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