Fifteen out of the twenty-three members of the UK’s coalition cabinet are Oxbridge graduates, including David Cameron (Oxford) and Nick Clegg (Cambridge). For some on the Left, particularly, this indicates an unhealthy concentration of power in the hands of a social elite. A vast exaggeration! Those from “the older universities” have nothing like the influence of old boys (and girls) of Polytechnique and ENA in France. Most end up doing – and contentedly – rather ordinary jobs. Members of their lunch club here – the Oxbridge Set – have ranged from parson and yacht captain ... to tree surgeon and ironmonger.
For some years now the lunches, held twice a year (one on Boat Race Day), have been organised by Rosemary Halford (Oxford). We spoke to her as she looked ahead to the autumn meeting: “For our autumn lunch on Sat Oct 6, we’re offering something rather less formal than usual. We’ve arranged with Le Bellanda – a very agreeable and relaxed restaurant in Nice at 85 qui des Etats unis – that people can call in on 04 93 76 65 28 to say they’ll be coming along and will then be able to chose what they feel like eating. Menus start at €22. So they can eat what they like and spend what they like. Calls should be made if possible two weeks before the day. Aperitif at 12h, lunch from around 13h. We’ll be interested to see if a lunch arranged like this appeals to members.”