Fiat Lustitia Ruat Caelum (article in Country Squire Magazine)

Article published in the Country Squire Magazine


‘What do you chaps get up to at Club?’, asked Don as he/she/it/they passed the shaving bowl to Reggie. Don who had previously been known as Doreen until she discovered Uncle Ted’s wife-beaters came from a long line of Oxford scouts, serving gentlemen through thick and thin. The late grandmother had even served on the ‘Dons’ staircase’. But, this was the kind of question that Reggie didn’t much care for. Head turned to the floor, he cleared his throat and grunted: ‘oh, gosh, I don’t know. Smoke cigars, play Backgammon, talk about women and…’ shoulders back, he stood up straight and looked askance at Don, ‘indulge in conviviality without the fear of external interference’. ‘That kind of thing, I suppose!’

‘Now, Don, whatever happened to my stick-ups?’

‘You what, my luv?’.

‘My stick-ups, my detachable collar. What the devil did I do with it?’

‘Oh, it is in pan, my luv. I’m starching ‘em for you, gentleman, got wine tasting tonight, ain’t you pet’.

‘Right, splendid, well, yes, I will be needing it anon, Don’. The occasion demanded white tie for domus nights were few-and-far between now that the new, teetotal bursar had joined the ranks.

Don sat on Reggie’s bed with the demeanour of a tired loin cloth. ‘I am dead beat, Reggie’, he/she/it/they moaned. For generations, Don’s family had worked these staircases but Don was the first to bowl from the pavilion end and other changes too were afoot. A JCR motion had been tabled by a coterie of green-haired, nose-ringed Lefties demanding that the position of scout be removed entirely for they ‘epitomised the scourge of inequality’ – the idea that a scout might serve a gentleman horrified the hyper-moralists. As a result, poor old Don wondered if he/she/it/they might end up in queer street. Reggie nearly choked on his dripping crumpet when he heard about the motion. ‘What nonsense, Don, what perverse nonsense!’, he screamed. Reggie could not tolerate these ex cathedra pronouncements from Freshers barely out of short-trousers.

‘Anyway, luv, you best be getting changed. I’ll ‘ave everything ready for you in just two shakes’. In no time, Don was ironing collars and fastening braces.

Suited and booted, Reggie made for the Bursary.

First up was the Domaine Leroy d’Auvenay Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2013. Reggie held the lady up to the light and swirled gently the glass. ‘Look at the legs on that’, he uttered, one eye on the wine the other on Svetlana, the Polish manciple, as she brushed past him. They had exchanged pleasantries in the pantry earlier that day. The light of the chandelier flowed over her flaxen hair. She wore a demure knee-length skirt that made her look svelte and sophisticated. Reggie wondered if they might know the coils of love and passion. Whilst Reggie rummaged around the antechambers of his fertile mind, the wine steward – eccentricity personified – was holding forth about cooperage in Beaune. The entourage wore serious expressions.

Reggie fondled for the buzzer under the table and Svetlana magically appeared. If only the whole of life could proceed on this basis, thought Reggie to himself! She leant over Reggie to pour the next tasting glass, pressing her bosom into him. As she did so, Reggie gave the 1992 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru a good snort, ‘I love her firm structure, full-bodied certainly and not in the slightest overblown’.


‘Yes, she is really toasty, isn’t she?’ remarked the wine steward inspecting the vintage and quite oblivious to the pun.


‘By golly, I should say’, grinned Reggie as he gave Svetlana a wink.


The Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne was followed by the Giacomo Conterno Monfortino or Monty for short. The wine-steward examined the Monty, took a sip and uttered disapprovingly: ‘what an awkward, foxy little brute!’ On hearing the word ‘foxy’, Reggie groped again for the buzzer. Oh, what fun!


Confident that his double-entendres were lost on his audience, Reggie decided to leave the huffy mathematicians to nose the cheese, and call it a night. Engulfed in their prosaic way of life, soon they would return to their library calculus and bachelor beds. He thanked the wine-steward and headed for the pantry.


Outside, the evening splendour of the Quad spun around him. Reggie was happy to be back in Oxford, and pleased that he had brought Don with him. On the sight of that great apotheosis of lawn mowing, Front Quad, Reggie lavished superlatives on Myrtle, the Head of Gardening. The late evening sun permitted much outdoor amusement for those who had dispensed with the sub-fusc now that Schools were nearly over. Undergraduates, neither fish nor fowl, frolicked in the breeze. Some of the boys sported perms. Soon, their futures would be determined.


As always, Reggie meandered around with a triumphant smile, footloose and fancy-free. The scouts were beavering away in the Buttery. Begowned students emerged from the Junior Common Room with meeting agendas in hand. Reggie took a glance at the Order of Business and exchanged a few words with a fellow beagler who had attended said meeting:


1.     Matters Arising

2.     Motions

(a)   LGBTQ Fresher’s rep nomination

(b)  Pink Week funding

(c)   Minority gender identity officers’ tankards

(d)  Tampon dispensers in all gender-neutral bathrooms

(e)   Provision of chest binders for Trans, non-binary and gender conforming students

(f)    Addressing inequality, the removal of scouts

3.     Any other business


Through the Monty-fuelled haze, Don hove into sight on the other side of the Quad. Reggie ushered he/she/it/they over.


‘Don, there is news. Take a seat. Providence has intervened. That silly motion about the scouts was turned down. Instead, they voted to give you all a salary increase. Now, isn’t that splendid?’


‘Oh, Reggie, I am so relieved. Thank you, my luv’. Don gives Reggie a hug.


Reggie produces two glasses and a half-full bottle of Monty purloined from the Bursary.


‘Now, get this down you, Don’. Reggie pours Don and himself the most generous of glasses.


‘To scouts, gentlemen and everything in between. We won’t trade our souls for fake virtues! Fiat justitia ruat caelum. Bravo!’ roars Reggie. Eyes blazing with joy, they clink glasses and watch the most implausible of sunsets embrace the June skyline.


A pregnant pause and Don offered: ‘what does that mean then, luv?’