I was always taught to say ‘the anniversary of my birthday’ rather than ‘my birthday’, so last night I celebrated this anniversary in the Club at The Ivy, where, one is reminded that the ‘Chatham House Rule’ is in force. Checking the phrase’s origin, I found the full definition of this very London rule;
“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”.
It was devised to enable the facilitation of free speech in the Chatham House club in St James’ Square in 1927, and the phrase entered the English language to mean any gathering where anonymity guarantees freedom.
It is entirely different from that other London favourite, the ‘Cone Of Silence’, by which the invoker, by simply holding his hands in a cone above his head in a pub, guarantees freedom from reprisal if he says something scurrilous about a fellow drinker.
Does anyone know of any other enforceable London social rules?