News Bulletin N°9

A glorious launch to the Cambridge Cutting Edge Lectures

Today, Thursday 7th March, the first of the Cambridge Cutting Edge Lectures was held, at the prestigious Institut Pasteur in Paris.

With an audience of well over 200, the large amphitheatre at the Institut Pasteur was full to overflowing. Not surprising given the immense good fortune of having a Nobel Prize winner, President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan as our first speaker.

Venki’s career has been dedicated to the discovery of the form and function of ribosomes, the million atom molecules that provide the interface between DNA based genes and the proteins forming every cell in every form of life on earth.

His talk, describing his struggle in the race to decipher the secrets of the ribosome was not only a voyage at the pinnacle of modern science, but also a very human saga showing how modern science really works. The competition, the ambition, the goals, and integrity. The anxiety and need for self-belief, with occasional strokes of extraordinary good fortune, or the reverse.

We were hugely privileged to be given these insights by one of the greatest living scientists, and all this from the little acorn, the conversation over lunch between myself and Moez Draief, that first gave birth to the Cambridge Cutting Edge Lectures.

We could not have hoped for a better launch and immense thanks are due to Venki Ramakrishnan for accepting our invitation, to Terry Quinn for having proffered the invitation, and the Institut Pasteur for their wonderful amphitheatre and for hosting us in such splendid style.

The next Cambridge Cutting Edge Lecture will be delivered by Professor Sir Roger Penrose on Thursday 24th October and, before that, on Thursday 16th May we have the start of the Glory Days of Paris series, commencing with The Pilgrims of Babylon, the revolutionary Artists of Montmartre.

With very best wishes,

Andrew Lyndon-Skeggs
President, Cambridge Society of Paris

Thursday 7th March 2019

News Bulletin N°8

A Bumper Year!

“Mais oui” said the French diplomat “I am perfectly confident that it will work in practice. I only worry that it may not work in theory!” One of the many anecdotes in the star-studded speech by Sir Christopher Meyer at the recent Annual Dinner of the Cambridge Society of Paris.
Each of the targets that the Cambridge Society set itself two years ago has now been, or is close to being, achieved: a doubling of the membership, driven by College Representatives and high-profile events, up from 100 to over 250; many new younger members; and a healthy expansion of its network, including English and French academic and other Parisian institutions.

Along the line, about to be released, thanks to Stephanie Coutu, a new greatly enhanced website, with online purchasing and bar-code ticketing. Also, closer liaison with Cambridge alumni groups outside Paris, and with the University itself.

The expansion of our network has been realised in part thanks to the two new roller-coaster lecture series; The Cambridge Cutting Edge Lectures and Glory Days of Paris. The former scientific (but accessible to all); the latter a celebration of those heady, crazy Montparnasse days in the 1920s and ‘30s, with their prelude in Montmartre and swan song in Saint Germain-des-Prés.
The initial Cambridge Cutting Edge Lecture is very soon indeed; mid-day Thursday 7th March. A talk by Nobel Laureat President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, at the Institut Pasteur, about the profound importance of Ribosomes, and the Sociology of science. The chance to meet such an eminent scientist, and visit the Institut Pasteur, should not be missed. We can take bookings up to this weekend.

Glory Days of Paris launches on Thursday 16th May when Douglas Lyndon-Skeggs, an exceptionally good lecturer, tells us about the Pilgrims of Babylon, the artists of Montmartre, from 1870 to 1910. Montmartre the epitome of Bohemian life, decadence, poverty .. and revolutionary art.

But that is the future. Let’s step back a moment, for this year has already started with a bang. In line with our policy to welcome Cambridge students, as well as alumni, Tony Banton organised a first ever Cambridge Society of Paris event in Cambridge, carrying with him a selection of fine French cheeses. With a remarkable attendance of 62 Cambridge undergraduates and graduates, the event was a resounding success and our younger membership has grown further as a result. Thank you, Tony!

The Annual Dinner is always an important event in the CamSoc calendar and this year, on Friday 22nd February, we had the best attendance ever! Credit to the rude good health of the Society. Thanks also to the presence of Sir Christopher and Baroness Meyer as guests of honour. Sir Christopher’s speech was superlative: amusing, perceptive and compelling with a depth of wisdom reflecting his 37 years in the British Diplomatic Service, including the longest post-war tenure as Ambassador to Washington, covering 9/11 and the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Following the first Cambridge Cutting Edge Lecture, and before the initial episode of Glory Days of Paris, we have a whole host of interesting events. Profitez-en!

On Friday 15th March we, jointly with British Luncheon 1916, are hosting a concert at the Travellers Club, given by the 24 members of the Corpus Christie choir, featuring sacred music and well-loved songs such as A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and Shenandoah. The concert will be followed by a champagne reception and promises to be a charming and thoroughly civilised evening.

Later, on Thursday 28th March, Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett will be visiting us from Cambridge to tell us about language, linguistics, the origins of the French language, its relationship with English and, in particular, the Menace of Monolingualism.

Just a few days on, Tuesday 2nd April, a chance to meet the Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Toope, over drinks in the historic HSBC premises at 109 Champs Elysées. The Vice Chancellor will give us some insights into the current policies for Cambridge, and an emerging liaison with one of the Paris based Grandes Ecoles. He will also answer questions about any aspect of the University you may care to discuss, especially important given the changing political climate.

This year really is a bumper year and events flow thick and fast: the boat race, Mead Making in the Catacombs, First Wednesday drinks with UCL as special guests, Glory Days of Paris episodes 2 and 3, Professor Sir Roger Penrose speaking at the second Cambridge Cutting Edge Lecture, plus the Garden Party in May.
All of this, I shall cover in future Bulletins. Meanwhile, I leave you with the interesting thought of two further Challenge Debates. The first, later this year, against Trinity College Dublin, in the magnificent Irish Embassy, former home of the Duc de Breteuil. The second, around May next year, against the Ecole Militaire who, by the way, receive ten hours of debate training each week! If you would like to join the Cambridge debating team, do please contact me.

It is wonderful that you are a member of the Cambridge Society of Paris; your support is of real importance. We are proud to be one of the largest, perhaps the largest Cambridge Association outside the UK; long may it remain so. Above all, do please join in as many of our events as possible. You will be highly welcome, and it is this that makes it all worthwhile.

With very best wishes,

Andrew Lyndon-Skeggs
President, Cambridge Society of Paris.

Wednesday 27th February 2019.

News Bulletin N°7

Cambridge Society of Paris
News Bulletin 7
A new and exciting year

Like the remark before the disastrous wedding speech in Four Weddings and a Funeral “There is something for everyone.”

Lectures, Welcome Party, Book launch, Dinners, Debate, Berlin Cabaret, Sport, Carols, Château Visit, Music, Garden Party, Photographic Exhibition, Paris Walks, and a mysterious Escape!

The full details will follow; this is just an appetizer for the events being planned by the Cambridge Society of Paris for the months to come.

First, in order of timing, four events in rapid succession during the remaining two weeks of this month: Lecture by George Yipp (Magdalene) Thursday 13th September; Welcome Party, Tuesday 18th September; Sebastian Faulks Embassy Book Launch, Monday 24th September; Lecture on Soren Kierkgaard (fore-runner to Jean Paul Sartre), Wednesday 26th September.

We organise the Welcome Party to congratulate students from Paris about to start their studies at Cambridge. It is for new students and all members of the Cambridge Society of Paris. Fascinating for each to meet and for the new students to hear alumni memories of Cambridge. You are highly encouraged to attend.

And what a wonderful bonus, given by the Embassy and Sebastian Faulks, fifty places for members of the Cambridge Society of Paris to attend the launch of Sebastian Faulks’s latest book, Paris Echo, at the Embassy, the evening of Monday 24th September. “Paris as you have never seen it before, every building holds an echo of an unacknowledged past, the shadows of Vichy and Algeria.” This event is a stunner and the (free) tickets will go very fast indeed.

The new Cambridge year brings the start of our two ambitious and important projects: “The Cambridge Cutting Edge Lectures” and “Glory Days of Paris.” The first will be ongoing, two lectures a year, in conjunction with heavyweight Paris based scientific institutions. The second, a cycle of five lectures on the art, literature, jazz, philosophy, and intellectual hedonism of Les Années Folles, an epoque when Paris was at the centre of the artistic world. For the moment, we are keeping the details tantalisingly secret... except just to say that the first two speakers for the Cutting Edge Lectures are the President of the Royal Society and Professor Sir Roger Penrose. Can’t do better than that!
As a glorious counterpoint, on 23rd or 24th November, by way of our Christmas Party, Berlin Cabaret. Exotic, original, opera operetta and Kurt Weil as never before, a stunning dinner performance by the bewigged, bejewelled and bewitching Claudia Roick and Nicole Tschaikin.

Edward Archer is kindly organising his much-loved Christmas Carols at the Hôtel Paiva, and the Corpus Christi choir will be performing for us in the Spring.

With new committee member David Sayers, we are working on the scope for a photographic exhibition and talk by the wonderfully eccentric American photographer of the world’s celebrities (including Bianca Jagger on horseback), Rose Hartman.

One of the great successes last year was the guided visit to Christies organised by Valérie Didier and I am delighted to say that this has been offered again for the current year.

George Young will, we hope, conduct stage two of his walk around the Marais and, in addition, we are planning one or two guided walks around Paris showing Paris as you have never seen it before.

But this is not all, we have some further gems that we hope to reveal ere long, as well as traditional highlights including the Annual Dinner and the Embassy Garden Party.

Finally, as a complete departure, fun for all, young and old, the new craze sweeping Paris and Barcelona: enter into a hidden room in a curious domain. A mystery starts to unfold. You are trapped. You can only escape by using your wits, your skill, your ingenuity. Teams of up to five. I have tried it... amazing!

Our membership has doubled over the past eighteen months. Very good indeed, and I hope that there are events here that will appeal to all. I look forward enormously to meeting you at as many events as you can manage.

With very best wishes,

Andrew Lyndon-Skeggs
President, Cambridge Society of Paris

12th September 2018

News Bulletin N° 6

Cambridge Society of Paris
News Bulletin 6
An Exciting Year

With the advent of the summer recess, we can look back over an exciting year for the Cambridge Society of Paris.

But before looking back, let us consider the present, for the Society has changed considerably over this past year. Last summer, we set the ambitious target of doubling the membership within eighteen months. Now, to my delight, thanks to the enthusiasm of the core team, this objective is close to being fulfilled. Taking a snapshot in time, the AGM of last year and this, the membership a year ago stood at 93. At the equivalent AGM today, the paid membership amounted to 167. Since then, further members have renewed, and others joined, so the target has very, very nearly been reached, and the trajectory is heading fast towards 200.

Another structural change has been the creation of College Representatives providing a direct link between the Colleges and the Cambridge Society of Paris. At present we have College Representatives for two thirds of the Colleges, with others identified to create a complete network of Representatives for every College in Cambridge. The system has already proved its worth in boosting the membership, and we have plans for further liaison with the Colleges in the context, for example, of the Trevor Brown Bursary. Many thanks to every College Representative. You have all been a tremendous help and, in some cases, the results have been stunning, starting with St John’s (thanks to Edward Archer) and Fitzwilliam (care of Edward Bryant).

A third fundamental, game changing improvement, about to be revealed, thanks to committee member Stephanie Coutu, is the website. Our current website is, in fact, not too bad, kept up to date minute by minute thanks to Tony Banton. But Stephanie’s new website will be light years ahead. Much more interactive; with online transactions, ticketing and membership; more visual; and under our direct control. Also, a link to Mailchimp, our new publicity package that has had a preliminary outing for the Garden Party and will emerge in full high-tech glory with the launch of the website.

Finally, the start of our plans to widen the reach of the Cambridge Society of Paris geographically and in terms of younger members. The groundwork has been laid with two amendments to the Constitution: a change in the cost of Country Membership from €40 to €20, and automatic three-year free membership for new student members.

To extend our membership, to encompass more Cambridge alumni, and to better serve the University, we hope to assist other groups of Cambridge alumni to emerge across France, with reciprocal relationships to Paris. The first was to have been the 189 Alumni in and around Lyon. A stalwart Lyon based alumnus very kindly offered himself as the focus, and Tony Banton and I worked with him to set the wheels in motion. Suffice to say this was thwarted as a text book reliance on marketing and excessive enthusiasm for fundraising on the part of the Development Office so annoyed our intrepid Lyonnais, that he disappeared into the sunset. I don’t doubt however that other opportunities will emerge and the concept of reciprocal links across France is enticing.

Time now to look back over the past year, picking up some of the many activities that we have embarked upon along the way:

The post rentrée season began with the traditional, but increasingly important Freshers Party. One of our current objectives is to increase the number of younger members, and this event is a prime source. Happily, the Freshers Party produced the highest number ever of freshers, current undergraduates and graduates, so much so that we had to turn away alumni. Consequently, the formula is being re-thought and, this time, in September, we shall hope to welcome just as many freshers, but also a good number of our members.

Next event, one of our regular debates, but with a change of venue from the Victoire, to the 5ème Cru wine bar, resulting in a subtle change of ambience. The wine bar was convivial, cosy and cheap. Slightly chaotic, and very popular with most of the Cambridge attendees, including the lively group of friends kindly invited by Moez Draief. The motion, “This House believes that the Technological Revolution has brought more good than evil to our communities” was debated for the motion by Christopher Chantry and Andrew Lyndon-Skeggs, and against by Andrew Torrence and Clare Hohler. The latter won!

In November, it was the turn of the university, with a Global Cambridge event for alumni group leaders, followed by a one-day Conference attended by alumni from France, Benelux, Germany and the UK. A useful exchange of ideas and a good source of new members for the Cambridge Society of Paris.

At the start of December, Edward Archer, again, very kindly, arranged Christmas Carols at the Travellers. This has become a regular fixture superbly run by Edward with mulled wine, music by Christopher Wells and team, and all the best loved Christmas Carols. Eagerly anticipated by our members, this event marks the start of Christmas and provides a great gathering of Cambridge, Cambridge, Oxford and friends. Long may this continue; thank you, Edward!

Later in December, the Cambridge Blockbuster! A totally new event. The Cambridge Christmas Party. With 35 outstanding jazz musicians, an attendance of near on 400, glittering and outrageous ‘20s costumes, tap dancing and Charleston, it was Midnight in Paris off the silver screen and into the beautiful Salons Venitiens of the Musée des Arts Forains. Here, to give a flavour, I will leave the words to others: “It was a dream come true” “Last night was like flying through a time machine; wonderful!” “Certainly the best party I have been to since I arrived in Paris” and many more. Yes, it was great and served not a little to show that Cambridge can Party! Have a look on You Tube and, when you do, please click on Subscribe, we need 100 subscribers.

From hedonism to asceticism. From the fabulous Cambridge Christmas Party to an event just as important, and far more so historically, the Cambridge Union Challenge Debate. Earlier, we threw down the gauntlet to the Cambridge Union, challenging them to visit us in Paris to debate a topic of their choice against a team from the Cambridge Society of Paris. To their eternal credit, they accepted without hesitation, the first time ever in their 160-year history outside the UK. The Union team was headed by Jonah Surkes their president, supported by Tom Mc Arthur, their two speakers Penelope Jones and Jali Packer, and guest speaker computer genius, Rand Hindi. Camsoc fielded Edward Archer and myself, plus guest speaker Calum Chace, introduced by Terry Quinn. Thank you, Terry! The debate took place in the exotic Hotel Paiva (otherwise known as the Travellers Club), the motion being “This House believes that we shall have a post human economy run by robots with artificial intelligence within twenty years.” Conclusion; we lost! Quite wrongly you understand but, yes, we lost. However, it was the most fantastic occasion, attended by 100 guests, a landmark in the history of the Cambridge Union Debating Society, and indeed of the Cambridge Society of Paris.

Phew, draw breath, this is becoming a roller-coaster. But the fun and magnitude of events does not diminish. Next, in January, the annual dinner with a splendid turn-out of approximately 80 Cambridge Alumni and guests to listen to Robert Tombs, professor of French history at St John’s and author of “That Sweet Enemy” the relationship between the French and British from the Sun King to the present. Though a leading proponent for Brexit, Professor Tombs was careful not to touch on Brexit, but nevertheless gave us a fascinating and inciteful analysis of the close and paradoxical relationship between the two Countries. Questions followed, ably fielded by Professor Tombs eventually concluding “all of this is what I believe should happen; none of this I fear will happen!”

A complete bonus, a very kind offer from Valerie Hess, a new member of the Society, to conduct a guided tour around Christies at 9 Avenue Matignon. This was a resounding success and one of the most enjoyable events of the year. The eye-catching headline was the chance to view the works from the Rockefeller collection including Picasso’s Young Girl with a Flower Basket, later sold for $115m. But this, though the gem, was certainly not all, and the tour was fascinating for its breadth of interest, including the Hessel Family Collection, Impressionists and Modern Art, the André Level collection and a special demonstration by Valerie explaining the use of ultra violet light in the restoration of oil paintings. Thank you, Valerie, you were a star!

In April, Edward Towne gave us a most interesting talk in a vaulted cellar, below a house once owned by the great grandfather of George Sands, about the Cambridge Spies, focusing on the political influences that had compelled these five upper crust people to .. betray their country.

The Trevor Brown Bursary, instigated by Trevor Brown, the founding president of the Cambridge Society of Paris, is an important facet of the Society, offering bursaries to current Cambridge students visiting France to study French life or culture. However, despite its significance, it is not sufficiently widely known, and we therefore decided to bring it more main-stream by requiring the recipients of the bursaries to give a talk about their projects. Consequently, following the AGM on 22nd May, all four of the latest TBB students, gave a presentation including: Carl Frayne, Exiled French Religious Congregations; Auriane Terki-Mignot, Women’s Work in Industrialised France; Emma Sharples, Medieval Modernisms; and Alice Limb, Royal Collections in 18th C Paris. Fascinating; this policy will be pursued.

Soon thereafter, in May, the Oxford and Cambridge Garden Party, one of the great fixtures in the Camsoc calendar, usually in the glorious gardens of the British Ambassador’s Residence. This year the Garden Party took wings with the addition of the fabulous Fingask Follies, the Glyndebourne of the north (with a dash of Kit and the Widow) founded by Andrew Murray Thriepland, the owner of Fingask Castle. I have received so many enthusiastic comments about this event, and the Follies in particular, not least from Pierre Amouyel-Kent, husband of Oxford president Carol. Thank you all!

Another delightful hardy perennial, Shakespeare in the Shakespeare Garden of the Bois de Boulogne, so capably organised with strawberries and champagne by Camsoc vice president, Clare Hohler. This year The Winter’s Tale, mid-summer in glorious sunshine. We are all very grateful to Clare for organising these joyful Shakespeare evenings.

Finally, another of George Young’s supremely interesting guided tours, this time through the Marais, followed by lunch for the 23 attendees at Bistro Renaissance, Porte St Martin.

Over the summer, the informal and well attended Monthly Drinks at Murphy’s Bar will continue, coordinated for us by Chau Pak-Lee. Thank you, Chau for your sterling work.

That aside, the Cambridge Society of Paris will now go into holiday mode until September. But, thereafter, we have some super plans emerging.

First, the Freshers Party, in new guise, Tuesday 18th September at the Frog and Revolution, 9 rue de la Bastille. The revised format will enable us to give the Freshers more information about Cambridge and leave more space for our members.

We shall aim to arrange a pétanque tournament against Oxford in the Tuileries and then, lest anyone should think that the present president is more interested in Jazz, Follies and Berlin Cabaret (!) the emergence of two new ventures: The Cambridge Cutting Edge Lectures and Glory Days of Paris. These two series of lectures will be important and will form a major aspect of our forthcoming programme. More anon.

But now it’s time for summer holidays, with one last thought: as well as taking part in as many of these activities as possible, is there anything that can be done by members of the Society, outside the work done by the committee? Indeed there is and I shall tell you all about that... another time!

Meanwhile, I am really delighted you are a member of the Cambridge Society of Paris. Thank you, everyone, for your enthusiasm and your support. It has been ‘an exciting year’

With very best wishes,

Andrew Lyndon-Skeggs
President Cambridge Society of Paris

1st July 2018

News Bulletin N° 5

From hedonism to asceticism. From the fabulous Cambridge Christmas Party to the first event of 2018, The Cambridge Union Challenge Debate. And what an event it was, long to be recorded in the annals of the Cambridge Society of Paris and the Grimoire of the Cambridge Union.

To whatever exotic locations the Union may travel in the future, Paris, and the debate against the Cambridge Society of Paris, will rest forever the first occasion, in its 160-year history, on which the Cambridge Union debated outside the UK.

When I threw down the gauntlet and challenged the Union to a debate on our home territory, here in Paris, the response from the Union was immediate, enthusiastic, and positive. Very impressive.

The Union team was headed by Jonah Surkes, their president, supported by Tom McArthur, Vice President, plus Penelope Jones and Jali Packer their chosen speakers.

The event was held on Saturday 27th January 2018 in the exotic salon of the Hôtel Païva (of silver bath fame) at 25 Avenue des Champs Elysées, debating the motion “This house believes that we shall have a post human economy run by robots with artificial intelligence within twenty years.”

In support of the motion, the Cambridge Society of Paris, through Edward Archer and myself, plus our guest speaker, writer, journalist and futurologist, Calum Chace. Against the motion the Cambridge Union, through Jali and Penny and their guest speaker, computer programmer, founder of Snips and, elected as a TR35 by the MIT Technology Review and as a "30 under 30" by Forbes, Rand Hindi.

Suffice to say that .. we lost! Maybe, with a slight adjustment of the wording. Maybe with a closer adherence to the core topic, the result .. well “he would say that wouldn’t he!” Well done the Cambridge Union.
In twenty years or perhaps fifty years’ time, we will know the answer. Meanwhile, the debate was an outstanding success. A benchmark in the history of CamSoc and the Union.

I would like to thank everyone for their help and, in particular, Edward and Anne Archer for inviting several of the Union members to stay, and for hosting such a magnificent dinner the night before. With so many young holders of Cambridge Firsts around us, I have seldom known such interesting post dinner discussion.

A short video of the debate has been up-loaded to our new You Tube Channel, which can be visited via: When you look at the video, could you also please click on Subscribe to become a subscriber. We want to create a dedicated name for the Channel but cannot do so until we have 100 subscribers. When I last looked we were at 58. Please help us to get to 100. No cost or obligation involved.

With best wishes,

Andrew Lyndon-Skeggs
President, Cambridge Society of Paris
11th February 2018

Launch of the CamSoc Paris YouTube channel

I am pleased to say that the Cambridge Society of Paris has taken a further step forward in its evolution: we now have a dedicated channel on You Tube.

At present, this runs under the complicated title of:

The intent is to change the last part of this to .... cambridgesocietyofparis.

However, this can only be done by having 100 subscribers, and waiting 30 days. It would be most excellent to have a proper named account, and therefore we need 100 people to ‘subscribe’.

This is dead easy and does not involve any payment or obligation. All you have to do is go to the You Tube channel by copying the following link into your web browser:

and then clicking on Subscribe (or Abonner). As simple as that.

It would be hugely appreciated if you could please do this, to help get the 100 users we need - we already have more than 50...

When you go to our new You Tube Channel, you will be able to see the video of the Christmas Party and, very soon, a video of the Union Debate.

Next newsletter, with the video of the debate, will follow.

With best wishes,


News Bulletin N°4

Dear Member,

‘Tis the Season for Seasonal Quizzes so, in keeping with the spirit of the season ... Who said What about the Cambridge Christmas Party?

1. It was a dream come true
2. A glorious triumph
3. So well organised, the music sensational, and the dancing lovely to watch
4. Tous les musiciens que j’ai revus après ont été enchantés
5. I amazed myself by doing a mini charleston .. which I have not done for decades
6. Last night was like flying through a time machine! WONDERFUL !!!!
7. What a triumph. Certainly the best party I have been to since I arrived in Paris
8. Fantastic setting and a great bunch of people
9. Dazzled by the ambiance and excitement of the evening
10. So much enjoyed by all, and beyond all our dreams

A. Peter Salinson
B. Elizabeth Schofield
C. Anthony Langdale
D. Sophie Loussouarn
E. Clare Hohler
F. Barbara Albasio
G. Iain Cheyne
H. Nigel Moss
I. Lou Lauprète
J. Patricia Hawkes

Well, certainly, with an attendance approaching 400, including 35 musicians. With the tap dancer, magician, light shows and opera singing automatons. With the wonderful costumes and stunning dancing, it was undoubtedly an exceptional occasion and a terrific Cambridge send-off to the year.

As for the quiz .. I have no intention whatsoever of giving the answers! But thank you, all of you, and a good many more, for your wonderful and enthusiastic letters. Thank you also Tony for your massive back-up, analysis and supervision of the complicated guest lists. Outside CamSoc itself, thank you to the many musicians. Thank you Philippine Chombart de Lauwe and Aygline de Clinchamps for organising the food, and Marie-Mathilde Blanckaert for gathering the highly efficient and glamorous bar team. And thank you Yves Riquet; Paris Boogie Speakeasy was the inspiration for the entire show.

On the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a video clip of the evening. Watch it soon, because it will expire in a few days time (though we will be uploading a permanent version to You Tube and to our web site):

Early in 2018, I will write outlining the objectives of the Cambridge Society of Paris for the forthcoming year. Meanwhile, I hope you all have a wonderful New Year.

With best wishes,

President, Cambridge Society of Paris

News Bulletin N°3

Dear Member,

A committee meeting, Cambridge Leadership Conference, Global Cambridge, and much to report.
In September we set ourselves the seemingly ambitious challenge of doubling the membership of the Cambridge Society of Paris within a year to eighteen months. This was indeed ambitious but, already, we are 60% of the way to achieving this target, with a massive increase of over 60 members over the past few months.

In part, this has been thanks to the College Representative initiative. A Cambridge Society Representative for each of the thirty-one Colleges, working with their College to contact the College Alumni resident in France, to make them aware of the Cambridge Society of Paris, and encourage them to become members.

We now have Representatives for two thirds of the Colleges and, at present, about one third of these Representatives have issued their letters to Alumni. Led by St John’s, Fitzwilliam and Magdalene, this has resulted in many new members and, as each of the Colleges is launched, the resulting new members will almost certainly take us beyond the 100% mark.

Allied to this, come the New Year, we shall also explore the scope for greater liaison between the various Cambridge Alumni Associations in France to create an Alumni hub, supplemented by the creation of new Alumni Associations in regions of France not so far covered.
We have some exciting events coming up in the New Year, including the Challenge Debate against the Cambridge Union on Saturday 27th January, the Annual Dinner on Friday 9th February, with Professor Robert Tombs as guest speaker, then the Fingask Follies Musical Revue on Tuesday 22nd May.

A complete new departure, that grew out of lunch with Moez Draief: The Cutting-Edge Lectures. Whilst we shall, most certainly, continue our traditional events, The Cutting-Edge Lectures will be a vivid and important counterpoint. A programme of four lectures a year, on topics of crucial importance for the present and the future, the lectures will be short, incisive and authoritative, but delivered in such a way as to be compelling and of interest to anyone with a thirst to understand our modern world. The topics are likely to be scientific, but not invariably so, and each lecture will be recorded on video, and posted to You Tube, for future reference and useful publicity for CamSoc.

Turning back to the immediate, we have the Christmas Carols, organised by Edward Archer, this Tuesday, 12th December, at the Travellers Club, and the Cambridge Christmas Party at the Musée des Arts Forains next Monday, 18th December.

The Carols promise to be the charming traditional evening that Edward has kindly treated us to for several years and, as a result, the tickets have completely sold out.

The Cambridge Christmas Party is a totally new event, but has already become very substantial and important. It will also be the greatest fun! The Musée des Arts Forains is a truly magic place, and the music, tap dancing, conjuring, and Années Folles ambiance will all be highly amusing.

At the outset, I was persuading musicians to attend. Now, the buzz has got around, and they are all desperate to be there to join in the jam session. This will be one of the greatest gatherings of traditional jazz / swing / boogie musicians in Paris, ever! Because of this, we have attracted some high-profile guests, and may have representatives from the Arts Society and the Bulldog Trust in London, who see our party as being relevant to their exhibition, The Rise of Jazz, commencing in January at Two Temple Place, the neo-Gothic mansion built for William Waldorf Astor.

The attendance for the Cambridge Christmas Party presently stands at approximately 330, but there is space for 50 more. However, with a week still to go, it is almost certain that these final places will be taken, probably quite soon.

The Cambridge Christmas Party is definitely not an event to be missed, and the final fifty places will go fast. So, if you have not yet applied, or if you want to invite more friends, do please send in your Application Forms. Fresh copies can be obtained from Tony Banton ( or myself (

Look forward to seeing you, I hope, at the Christmas Carols and the Christmas Party, and my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

President, Cambridge Society of Paris.

News Bulletin N°2

Dear Member,

Another successful Cambridge Society event, the debate at the 5e Cru wine bar at 7 rue Cardinal Lemoine.

Supported by a young and enthusiastic group of CamSoc and OUSP members and their guests, following a most excellent and convivial dinner, the group debated the motion “This House believes that the Technological Revolution has brought more Good than Evil to our communities.”

The motion was proposed by Christopher Chantrey and opposed by Andrew Torrance, supported respectively by Andrew Lyndon-Skeggs and Clare Hohler. Lively comment from the floor prior to the summare by the two lead speakers and the vote, counted by Moez Draief: 15/15.

This then leads to several important Cambridge Society events: Christmas Carols at the Travellers Club on 12th December, the historic Challenge Debate against the Cambridge Union on Saturday 27th January and, inbetween the two, the Cambridge Christmas Party.

And, for the last, we can now reveal the date and venue: Monday 18th December in the Salons Vénitiens at the utterly stunning Musée des Arts Forains, the meeting place of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald during Midnight in Paris.

Cambridge gives a party, and each member of the Cambridge Society will have the right, an ill be encouraged to inviteup to ten guests, with a total in the region of 250. With numerous outstanding traditional jazz and swing musicians, Boogie Woogie, tap dancing and a few surprises to follow, it promises to be an outstanding evening. Please note the date, Monday 18th December, and start gathering your group of friends.

With very best wishes,

President Cambridge Society of Paris.

News Bulletin N°1

Dear Member

The first committee meeting since the rentrée, and the roll out of our plans for membership and mega new events.

Already, on a like for like basis, September to September, the Cambridge Society of Paris has grown by nearly twenty percent, all younger members. An excellent step in the right direction, but the intent is to go much further, to double the membership over the next year to eighteen months!

Members of the committee have started work on this, and initiatives have been launched, including direct liaison with undergraduates at the University, and representatives for every College.

A new undergraduate, Esha Marwaha (Gonville & Caius), has stepped forward and will be running a stand for us at the Freshers Fair and is in the process of establishing undergraduate representatives for each College who will liaise with our Alumni College representatives here in Paris.

Already ten Alumni College Representatives have been identified, and Magdalene has asked for an article about the Cambridge Society, and the fabulous Christmas Party, for the November edition of Magdalene Matters.

Alumni College Representatives so far include: Christ’s, Emmanuel, Fitzwilliam, Jesus, King’s, Magdalene, Murray Edwards, Newnham, St John’s and Trinity. Once this gets underway it will be an important motor for new membership and for liaison at all levels with the University. If your College is not already represented, and if you would be good enough to take on the role, this would be highly appreciated. Please contact myself ( or Tony Banton (

Doubtless you have seen the recent events reminder sent out by Tony, and I think you will agree .. not bad! Some outstanding new events including the Christmas Party, the Union Challenge Debate and the Fingask Follies Musical Review, in addition to a wide range of traditional activities.

So, much work in hand. What can you do? A lot please! If your College is not so far covered, and you would like to be the official representative, then do please make contact. Medium term we shall be looking for two new committee members. If you would like to assist in this way, it would be wonderful.

But above all, we really want to see you at the forthcoming events. Do please join in whenever you can; you will be highly welcome. The more this society, or club, is attended, the more fun it will be, and the better we can benefit the University.

For the big events in the near future, yes definitely please, and bring your family and friends. But likewise, though fifty maximum, please keep in mind the dinner debate coming up on Thursday 12th October, championing the merits, or denouncing the demerits of modern technology. This is taking place at a super new venue, totally private to us, the 5e Cru wine bar at 7 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, metro Cardinal Lemoine (10) or Jussieu (7). It is atmospheric, specialises in unusual wines, good food at incredible value .. and a debate as well!

Looking forward to seeing you.

With very best wishes,

President Cambridge Society of Paris.

President's Letter, December 2016

The Cambridge Society of Paris intends to be a focal point for all Cambridge Alumni in and around Paris to remain in touch with other Alumni. We plan our activities to be enjoyable, topical, cultural and fun as well as providing networking opportunities. Our membership is represented by a wide range of ages, nationalities, professions and subjects studied – the common point of all is to use the talents they honed during their time at Cambridge to progress but also to help others on their way. In short, fun, companionship and community spirit.

2016 was overall a great year for the Society. Our two highlight events, the Annual Dinner and the Garden Party, were by all accounts tremendous successes. Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene and of course a former Archbishop of Canterbury, was our Guest Speaker at the Annual Dinner, and 80 members and guests enjoyed his company at the Maison du Polytechnique. It was Cambridge’s turn to organise the Garden Party and the initial disappointment of not being able to use the Embassy was dissipated when we secured the Ecole Militaire. In addition to our friends from Oxford, we also welcomed the Alumni of the Ecole Polytechnique and for the first year the numbers of participants from the French School exceeded those of either Oxford or Cambridge. We even had to contact the Ecole Militaire to increase the numbers from those initially booked as total attendance was 180, another record. In the year of the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death naturally our main talk was on a Shakespearean theme, albeit with a twist as Dr Nicolas Bell, the Librarian of Trinity’s Wren Library, told us about an episode early in the 18th Century when new Shakespeare manuscripts were discovered – and subsequently found to be fakes. The evening was rounded off by the personal views of President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the Speaker from our guest French School, on the likely outcome of the Brexit vote which was to take place two days after the Garden Party. He predicted a 50/50 vote and asserted that the actual outcome would not necessarily change much as it would either be Great Britain half way in the EU as it currently is or half way out after negotiations to retain a certain level of access to the European Market. Of course, none of us know yet what will really happen although most of us British citizens living in France were desperately disappointed with the Leave result.

The Society was also active with many other events and activities : the Monthly drinks of course but also debates, two tours of Mundolingua, a visit round the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, a walk led by George Young along the Bièvres river within Paris intramuros, Shakespeare in the Bois de Boulogne, a Welcome Wine Tasting for new students matriculating in 2016, Carols at the Travellers, a captivating presentation by Prof Jean Khalfa on French artists books in the 20th Century and watching the Boat Race and the Varsity Rugby together. Add to this the events, mostly musical, organised by members of the Society and invitations from Oxford and other Alumni Groups, I hope you will agree we have provided opportunities for all tastes again this year, enough to tempt you all into renewing for 2017.

The standard membership rate is unchanged at €40 for the year, with a reduced rate of €20 to all members under 30 and of course there is still no charge for those members who are still studying at the University. We also continue our support to current students through the Trevor Brown Bursary. This is separately funded, so I do call on those of you who would like to support this initiative to add a little extra to your membership fee.

Our membership was 122 at the end of 2016, stable compared to the 121 members at the end of last year. As many are part of a mobile international community, changes in the membership are to be expected and 35 members did not renew while we have welcomed 36 new members. On a sad note, two members died in 2016: Charles Spencer-Bernard in February and James Wood in April. Both were active members of the Society and James had been on the committee for the last year, heavily involved in the organisation of our Social events. We miss both of them.

We have welcome three new Committee members, Duncan Low as our Treasurer, Natasha McNamara in charge of Social events and in particular the Monthly Drinks and Moez Draief who has taken on the organisation of debates and is the contact with the other UK University Alumni associations in Paris. Panos Barkas had to resign his Treasurer role early in the year as his job took him to Greece and Rosarita Cuccoli has recently moved away from Paris.

My three year term as President is coming to an end and, after the AGM to be held on 17 May, the Committee will choose a new President. There will also be other committee places available, given Panos and Rosarita’s departure from Paris and the possibility that two other committee members who now no longer live in the Paris area may also not stand for re-election. So I end my letter with a call to any of you who would like to play a part in the future of your Society. Those of you who would like to take a place on the Committee are invited to contact me so we can discuss together the role you could play.

I wish you and all those you care about a very Happy Christmas and every success in the New Year. I do hope that you will continue to support us in 2017 and that you be able to attend many of our events.

Tony Banton
Trinity 1975

2017 Trevor Brown Bursary

Applications may now be submitted for the Trevor Brown Bursary, available to current students of Cambridge University carrying out a project related to France or French society. The Bursary provides a modest contribution towards project costs and will be awarded based on assessment of applications by the TBB sub committee.

Full details, including how to apply, can be found on the Bursary page of this website.

James Wood, RIP

I have sad news to share as James Wood, member of our Committee and above all friend, died suddenly last week of a brain aneurysm in his flat in Juvisy. A family funeral was held early in May and a celebration to his life in June in London.

The Society will be dedicating one of our events to James "à la rentrée" and details will be sent out as soon as they are confirmed.

Tony Banton

Charles Spencer Bernard

Charles Spencer Bernard died on Tuesday 2 February in hospital. He had been going downhill steadily since je celebrated his birthday with his family at home a week earlier. He has been in great pain so, hard though it is to say, his death is a relief for him, for Lindy, Sarah and Elizabeth. They had seen him in the afternoon and had the impression that he had just waited to see them a last time..

Charles was a long standing members of the Society and many of us will remember him with tenderness. I consider I am fortunate to have been able to spend time with him at various CamSoc events over the years.

The funeral was held in Broc in the Maine-et-Loire at 10am on Monday 8 February. A memorial service was held in Paris in March.

Michael Webster

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Michael Webster passed away last night. Michael has been an active member of the Society, and hosted Committee meetings at his flat for the last few years. He was particularly involved in organising visits, such as those to the Louvre in 2013 and 2014 and more recently was behind the debating evenings of the association.
He will be sorely missed.

A memorial service will take place at the The American Cathedral in Paris on Saturday 7 th October at 16.00.

UK Winter Fuel Payment and other benefits

For those concerned please see below information provided by the BCC on the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee Benefit delivery inquiry:
"The Work and Pensions Committee (Chair, Frank Field MP) is holding an inquiry into the timeliness and accuracy of benefit delivery by the DWP. The official website for the inquiry points out that potential problems that can arise when benefits are delayed or underpaid, including people having to resort to food banks for emergency food rations.

The Committee invites written submissions on:

• The extent to which the DWP delivers benefit and Universal Credit payments correctly and promptly
• The impact of errors and delays and how such effects are mitigated
• How the Department’s performance in this area might be monitored and improved.

Select Committee Member Mhairi Black MP says on the website: "Vulnerable people are often left in a position where they have no money to heat their homes or feed themselves for several days or weeks. [...] I welcome the opportunity to explore these and many other issues that have been raised with me through the inquiry."

In France, the scope of this inquiry includes the concerns that British citizens may have about the planned withdrawal from September 2015 of the Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) from residents in seven countries of the EU (France, Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Malta and the British dependency of Gibraltar) based on a contrivance of so-called temperature checks, in contravention of the EU principle of equal treatment in cross-border social security matters. Cases of hardship may arise as a result.

Should you or any of your members know of any financial difficulties which will be caused to them, or to an acquaintance by the withdrawal of WFP, or who have experienced other state benefit difficulties, we suggest that you or they bring such cases to the attention of the Select Committee.

Submissions, preferable based on personal experience, should be made through the inquiry page of the website indicated above. They should be submitted as a document (.doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt, .ooxml or .odt) less than 25MB in size.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 4 September 2015.

Brian Cave ( writes: Many pensioners do not have experience of the Internet, and are relatively isolated. They may find it difficult to respond to this call for submissions. You might therefore consider making a submission on their behalf. Please act not just for yourselves (the WFP may not matter for you) but in solidarity with those citizens in less fortunate circumstances."