[Manuscript; satire; parody] W1, Some Customs and Institutions of the Inhabitants of Mayfair:

J.H. Driberg, Lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University.
Publication details: 
Unpublished [written 1930s].
SKU: 12505

W1, Some Customs and Institutions of the Inhabitants of Mayfair:An unpublished 1930s parody of an anthropological study, with satirical force, of London's wealthiest district, by J. H. Driberg, Lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University.Unpublished manuscript parody by Jack Herbert Driberg (1888-1946), Lecturer in Anthropology, Cambridge University, 1934-42, author of several mainly anthropological works; and brother of the Labour MP and gossip columnist 'William Hickey' Tom Driberg (1905-1976), written under the pseudonym of Ludwig H. Fleuch, Professor of Comparative Sociology, University of Untergatterthal.The draft title of the work, on its own leaf, reads:W.1. [i.e. the postal code for the area]Some Customs and Institutions of theInhabitants of Mayfair.- an anthropological survey byLUDWIG H. FLEUCH [i.e. Driberg]Professor of Comparative Sociology, University ofUntergatterthal, Ph.D., Memphis University.author of"A Handbook on the Morphology of DialecticalVariants in Ugrian," - "M'lungu - a studyin values." etc etc.Illustrated by photographs and diagrams.PREFACE BY [ends here]'.The present item is far more than an elaborate joke: it is also an extremely valuable piece of social history, written in an excellent style, and well worthy of publication, with enlightening discussions of the 'Environment - Flora- Fauna', 'Physiology & Psychology', 'Social Organisation' and 'Religion and Magic' of Mayfair. The aim of the work is simple enough: to apply to the most affluent district of London the same methodology and paraphernalia as an anthropologist would apply to a study of so-called 'primitive' society, and at the same time to satirise the processes of the discipline of anthropology itself. Only a remarkable man could have conceived such a study and worked on it effectively, and Driberg was - as his biographer Roy Abrahams indicates (Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, January 2011) - just such a man, one who 'almost single-handedly responsible for keeping academic social anthropology, and one might add the place of African research within it, alive in the small Archaeology and Anthropology Department in Cambridge in those otherwise rather barren days of the 1930s'.Driberg's field of expertise was the so-called Ilemi Triangle, situated near the Sudanese borders with Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Abrahams describes how, after leaving the British diplomatic service in Uganda under a cloud, Driberg 'studied for a time at the LSE with Seligman and Malinowski, as well as with Morris Ginsberg, Graham Wallas and Gordon Childe. Evans-Pritchard, Audrey Richards, Raymond Firth and Isaac Schapera were among his fellow students', with Evans-Pritchard 'apparently his closest friend within anthropology'. It is to Driberg that Evans-Pritchard dedicated his 1940 LSE monograph on the Anuak, 'with great affection'. The unusual qualities required for the production of such a study were certainly present in Driberg. In a warm obituary (Man, January 1947) Evans-Pritchard described his friend as a 'brilliant talker, at his best splendide mendax', and recalls his wide range of undergraduate interests: music, poetry, the classics, heavyweight boxing. He may also have called for advice on his brother Tom - at the time the society gossip columnist 'William Hickey' - whose experiences must surely have informed the work.The present item consists of 74pp., of which 70pp. are in 4to; and 4pp. in 8vo. It is divided into five main sections: ONE ('I'), 8pp., 4to; TWO ('II | Environment - Flora- Fauna.'), 12pp., 4to; THREE 'III | Physiology & Psychology.'), 14pp., 4to; FOUR ('Social Organisation'), 15pp., 4to; FIVE ('Religion and Magic'), 11pp., 4to. An additional 14pp. comprise: a title leaf (quoted in full above), with notes on reverse (2pp., 4to); a 'Preface' (4pp., 8vo); an untitled synopsis, headed '6000 [words] a chapter' (3pp., 4to); a 'Draft Syllabus' (3pp., 4to, with 1p. of notes on reverse); and notes for 'Social Organization' chapter (1p., 4to)..The item is in good condition overall, on aged paper with occasional minor rust staining from paperclips, and slight wear. The manuscript is entirely in J. H. Driberg's hand, in pencil, with numerous delineations and emendations, and occasional annotations, possibly by Tom Driberg. (For example, next to the name of Fleuch's supposed university on the title page is written in pencil: 'possibly shd be more obvious'.) While the work is well-advanced in composition, none of the sections is fully worked-out and completed, the deleted passages and emendations giving a valuable insight into Driberg's working processes.Although the tone of 'W.1.' is humorous, Driberg's aims would appear to be analogous with Carlyle's in the writing of Sartor Resartus: to satirise the academic process, and at the same time provide some witty and intelligent insights into an unaccustomed field of study. As Driberg writes in his preface: 'when such an exhaustive study is - as it is bound eventually to be - undertaken, by a more competent hand than mine, this little essay may be found not lacking entirely in that value which must necessarily attach to plain data strenuously tested in every detail by many months of "fieldwork" and comparative verification'. He continues: 'I am the more encouraged to confidence in this respect by the fact that my researches among the inhabitants of the London postal district W.1, and (in a lesser degree) those of S.W.1, have met with a response which seems to me altogether remarkable.' Towards the end of the preface Driberg asks the reader to 'treat the native of Mayfair like the child that, in the comparative history of the human race, he is; accept with enthusiastic sympathy his curiously antiquated beliefs, his pathetic fears; try - or pretend - to share his observance of what are often, to the scientist, grotesque and obscene tabus: - and, unless I have grievously overestimated his capacities or have enjoyed an unique experience, he will respond with a ready and warm devotion that is touching in its almost canine trustfulness and persistence.'The draft syllabus maps out a plan for a more substantial work than has survived, composed of nine sections, culminating in 'Texts Fairy stories of Mayfair - (Chestnuts)', together with glossary, bibliography, index, maps and photographs. Some of the proposed headings (not all of which are covered in the surviving sections) give an impression of the tone and range of topics to be explored:aristocratic blank faces specially induced in infancy like Mangbettu skullsworship of ancestors known as Debretthow do they make rain (met. office as temple of sport)strange customs of accosting in street (ie whores) possibly religious but more probably relic of matriarchycontempt for socialists though everything done communallymotor as new kind of dogaeroplanes birds which nest at Hendondifferent names of motor-dogsdogs as substitute for babiesbeauty culture an initiation rite (photographs of instruments of torture)archbishop lives outside villageinability to count - hence ready-reckoners etc write very little mostly chequeshunting and fishing (lionhunting)pictorial and plastic artmusic (B.B.C. & gramophonesmarriage (with aliens, especially American)Thames and effects of climatecountry estates & annual pilgrimagesclubs and secret societiesplucked eyebrowshairdressingconservatoriesorchidscameliasartificial flowerscats and dogsdog homesdog barberscranium measurementshealth and sanitationskulls (brain capacity)prelogical mentalityperiodicity of hoops etclost tribes of Israelterraces and terrace cultivationpearls.At the start of the first section Driberg describes his method: 'It must not be supposed that, because I have tabulated my material conventionally into chapters, my investigation proceeded along any such logical lines. My field-book is such as tangle of cross-references, stars, daggers, columned numerals & all the other symbols which I have found convenient in clarifying my data that I doubt whether anyone but myself could understand it.' In the guise of Professor Fleuch, he writes that he left his 'own country in the belief that I was going to study a people known as Londoners, and in fact the expedition was officially styled the Spicefeller-London Economico-sociological expedition. On the ship, outward-bound, I heard the people referred to as Cockneys, which I later found to be a linguistic, not a cultural classification at all'. He claims that the inhabitants of Mayfair are 'known as W1, a symbol which it is almost impossible for foreigners to pronounce [...] I shall therefore speak of them as Mayfairers'. A typical observation is that the 'Mayfairers' 'look back vaguely [...] to a Conquest, though few Mayfairers can give any precise information about the facts of this tradition. Indeed what was undoubtedly a historical fact is in process of becoming an aetiological myth. In the first section he also refers to Bishop Berkeley, 'the Apis cult of Egypt' and the 'effects of Roman occupation'.'Fleuch''s handling of the topic of prostitution in the section on 'Religion & Magic' gives perhaps the best indication of his treatment of the subject: 'I must now consider a very singular custom, the explanation of which for long eluded me, but which I am forced to conclude is another rite in the important fertility cult. Every evening one may see women (priestesses, as it appears, of this cult, not however to be confounded to the verbal origins of the cult) attractively dressed & profusely powdered & scented, who parade up and down the street indefatigably, their chief occupation appears to consist in asking people the time. In the course of my investigation I have found them quite fearless: they do not refuse to speak to strangers, & one (I find recorded in my notebooks) was so solicitous for my safety as to escort me to the door of the house which I occupied. [in the margin here: '"Come on, be a sport"', and later 'Hello, darling'] | I must admit to having been singularly obtuse in my investigations at this point. I overlooked several significant features. Why were they continually asking the time? - Obviously this seemingly innocent query preserves a relic of a former association with the sky god. Sun - moon - time - the sequence is obvious. Added to this a fact which I did not at first realise - these priestesses confine their activities to three or four streets only - Regent, Oxford, Bond & Piccadilly. These names are symbolic and stand for Authority, Learning, Constraint & Licence.'A typical footnote reads: 'I must disagree in toto with Dr. Hogenheimer's theory that the Mayfairers represent the lost tribe of Israel. This is a specious attempt to explain certain Semitic traits which we find particularly in one locality known as Park Lane, but its author has completely disregarded the chronological data which were at his disposal & which effectively dispose of a singularly inept hypothesis.'For 'Fleuch' the genealogical guide 'Debrett's Peerage' is of pivotal importance: 'Debrett is the vital stream of continuity: a man finds his own ancestors in Debrett, though Debrett is confined to no one family or clan. Which is singular - & I can so far find no explanation for the solecism - is that when the living consider themselves part of Debrett. This points to a much closer association between the living and the dead than we find among other primitives, through the life stream, the spiritual essence, Debrett, is that intangible quality which unites the living with the dead, considered which is the real vitalising agency & the only source of power. The conservator of tradition it is more potent even than Sport and imparts that solidarity to society which is otherwise noticeably deficient.'Of sport 'Fleuch' writes in characteristically idiosyncratic style: 'I do not for a moment suggest anything like a polytheistic religion among the Mayfairers. Sport is the supreme rule & dispenser of the Universe. Despite its many phases it is one & indivisible. [...] Each individual aspect of Sport has its own priesthood, known [...] in the vernacular as Stars. The significance of this term becomes obvious when we discover that Sport's chief temple is known as the Meteorological Office.' A footnote expanding on this point begins: 'This is so sacred an institution & so dangerous to the profane that the shrine is segregated outside the confines of the village. It has an alternative title Royal Observatory, & may even be referred to as Greenwich in certain contexts. Thus the titulary deity, meridian, appears in some way to be associated with Greenwich.'In the second section 'Fleuch' notes a 'disregard of environment' among Mayfairers, before describing Speakers' Corner: 'On the western edge of Mayfair savannah steppe or

lies a large open space known as Hyde Park. The beautiful lawns & waters & its fine old trees are very charming to my sensitive temperament. But only on rare occasions may one find a Mayfairer lying in the grass or even walking under the trees. I am told by a reliable informant that there used to be a ceremony known as Church Parade, peculiar to Mayfairers, but this has fallen into desuetude in recent years. Vast numbers of people frequent the Parks, but I have rarely found a Mayfairer there. On one memorable occasion I heard a man in Hyde Park orating public affairs with an interested audience. He spoke with persuasion & unusual intelligence, and I was moved to ask him proud of displaying my knowledge of the language whether I was correct in assuming that he lived in Mayfair. I judged that my assumption was incorrect by the exuberant laughter of his audience and by an amazed Garn which greeted my innocent question.' A footnote reads: 'Garn is an exclamation of surprise employed by certain neighbouring tribes who affect a language similar to Mayfair but one ultimately distinct. I am forced to append this further observation in Latin in order not to shock my readers, as I was shocked, by their outspokenness.'On the same subject Driberg writes: 'There is no doubt that Mayfairers are brave men, as on every hand I was warned that Hyde Park was a dangers & sinister place after dark. And yet it is precisely during the hours of darkness that it is visited by Mayfairers. More remarkable still, it is the elderly Mayfairers who chiefly take their lives in their hands in this way and they do not hesitate to sit even in the darkest shadows of the bushes wherever may lurk the most dreadful dangers. They tell me however, that the spice of danger adds to the pleasure of adventure, & drawing themselves erect with Shakespeare that England still stands where she did.' The following footnote is typical: 'JNS, Jins, JINX (cf High Jinks, the puckish counterpart of JIX), JIX. The singular connection between Jinks High - whatever that there is no Chthonian Jinks) and JIX is to be seen in two ritual formulae, which are obviously of a common origin. [...]'.On the reverse of the title leaf, in blue pencil, is the phrase: 'gettting a man's goat', and this may relate to the following passage: 'Their fauna is unfortunately very limited. They keep no cows, and I believe that sheep & goats are extremely rare. I have never seen any of these but did once hear of an old Mayfairer who kept a goat. A few of their women keep snakes and lizards, and occasionally one may even find a monkey or a marmozet, but all these animals are domesticated, though I have failed to discover their economic function.'The third section, on 'Physiology & Psychology', begins: 'The first impression that a stranger receives is singular. Looking at a crowd of Mayfairers he sees before him a series of aristocratic blank faces. There may be marked differences of tonsure, of hair & eye colouring, & even extreme morphological distinctions: stature may vary considerably in either sex & (more rarely) the pigmentation of the skin - such of it as one can see through layers of powder & enamel - suggest a biologically different inheritance. But the predominant characteristic is an intense blankness of expression, which is common to every Mayfairer without exception. This goes back to very ancient times when Mayfair was an immigrant culture & formed a real aristocracy.' He also observes that 'Every activity has its suitable costume, which may not be varied by a thread.' There follows a discussion of the use of hats, with the unusual comment: 'At a few institutions however to which women are not admitted [i.e. gentlemen's clubs] men wear hats in order to play the game of billiards, though they may & often do remove their coats!' Turning from the theme of 'wearing apparel' he observes: 'In matters material Mayfair impressed me particularly with a sense of speed & unlimited wealth. Their life is a fast one, as the idiom has it. They hurry from gaiety to gaiety with an infectious solemnity which is almost terrifying. [...] The attitude of mind which overestimates wealth, worships speed and notoriety, prefers expressionism to expression has engendered in Mayfair a contempt for those who do not share their point of view. [...] Every problem is met by the query 'Is this done, or is it not?', referring it to the common standard of conduct.'In the same section 'Fleuch' outlines the anachronistic quality of Mayfair servants, compared with other members of the working classes: 'the subject peoples - the Bloomsburys, the Lambeths, the Highgates & so on who still live segregated from the Mayfairers - were quick to notice the mental transformation in their masters & rapidly threw off their inferiority complex. The sullen immobility of features which was their former characteristic, natural in a conquered race, has disappeared, they have now become vivacious & animated & a few of them are even intellectual. Only those few called Jeams (or serf) who still serve the Mayfairers in a menial capacity imitate the aloofness & bored expression of their masters.'In the section on 'Social Organisation' 'Fleuch' deals with the familiar themes of births, deaths and marriages. Birth is described as 'a thing that occurs but is not talked about [...] the facts of impregnation and birth have come to be looked upon as something most shameful [...] From a feeling of shame to actual aversion is but a small step, and available statistics show that this step has already been taken.' After a brief discussion of abortion and infant diseases, 'Fleuch' turns to marriage, of which there are three forms: 'Marriage by Elopement' ('a survival of marriage by capture'); 'Marriage by Contract' ('a social adjustment in which the emotion known as love is conspicuous by its absence') and 'the love match'. 'Either husband or wife may arrange a divorce by sending the other the receipted bill for a double bedroom at a hotel, many of which indeed are specifically conducted for this purpose.' 'Fleuch' begins his discussion of death: 'Theoretically no Mayfairer is afraid of death, whose coming is awaited with all the appearance of stoical indifference.'Fleuch' concludes the final section with a swipe at another discipline, when he describes 'the magicians who are now held in the most honourable esteem [...] They are known as psycho-analysts, (also - therapeutists [...]) and they pretend by their magical arts to dissociate a man's personality, & to wash it clean of part repression and complexes. The chief magician of their cult is called Libido.'