A few days ago, I attended a Viking Club dinner (no, I am not kidding and no, not everyone had two horns on their head). It was in fact a salubrious affair held in the very grand and elegant Carlton Club in St.James’. The Carlton Club is a conservative club and our dinner was presided over by portraits of Thatcher, Cameron and Churchill (a notably good one of Churchill). Ironically enough, when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, the club did not allow women members so they rather swiftly had to change their rules.
It was, I believe, the first time since the 1920s that Bärsärkar & Vikingar (literally translated as Berserkers and Vikings) allowed women to join in one of their illustrious dinners. BV was founded in London in 1885 and is a mens’ only club; nearly all the members are Swedish with a few other Scandis thrown in, and they meet six times a year for a big, ceremonial dinner in one of London’s many beautiful buildings; they eat well, drink lots of snapps and sing heartily. The society has rankings- you could be a herdman (quite senior) or a träll (ie a serf and rather less senior…); you get medals according to your rankings. All a bit bonkers but fun! I was a norna to my husband- I gathered from the well-informed Danish chap next to me that norna is Old Norse for woman of your destiny (It could be worse). I had a good night and hope that this inclusion of women at BV will become an annual thing.