I first learned of the Halley’s Comet Society in the June 27, 1983 issue of NEW YORKER Magazine.  In a brief article, the seventh annual meeting (1982) was described.  Eventually, I met Brian Harpur and a wonderful association began.  I attended my first Society meeting aboard the H.M.S. Belfast on the Thames in 1984.  It was there I first heard the official society anthem sung to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Patrick Ide, who had been composing verses for the official Halley’s Comet Society Anthem for all those years provided the musing entertainment (see the Halley’s Comet Watch Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 4, December, 1984 for the text).  Mr. Ide did not have to provide a verse for the 1985 meeting, as the Royal Gala and reception took the place of the regular meeting.


          It was, therefore, with special anticipation that I attended the eleventh annual meeting of the Society on November 13, 1986, immediately after the Memorialization Ceremony in Westminster Abbey.  The event took place in the beautiful and historic Great Hall of the Institution of Civil Engineers on Great George Street, only 150 yards from Westminster Abbey.


          The special feature of this meeting was the Barancourt Halley’s Comet Champagne reception and the announcement by Brian Harpur that the Society would not end even though “our” comet of 1986 had left us, but that a new logo, 2061 with the six in the form of a comet, would be adopted and the Society would continue.  The announcement was met with the traditional British floor-tapping approval and the shouts of “here!, here!”


          The Earl of Rosse introduced some special guests – and Ruth Freitag (of the Library of Congress) and I were introduced as having traveled from the United States, to the acclamation of all!  Brian Harpur made some presentations and then the Official Halley’s Comet Champagne was used for the toast.


          Patrick Ide was called upon for his annual poetic tribute to the Comet.  To the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic he fulfilled his annual assignment:


          Au Revoir our most dear Comet

          Three-score years and ten

          You’ll be gone

          What will the West End be like

          When you come back from yon?

          One thing is very certain

          The Moustrap* will still be on!


          Chorus:       Glory, glory Mr. Halley (3x)

                             Your Comet’s hurtling on.


          I’ve sung to you for eleven years,

          It’s been a lot of fun.

          But I must admit to some relief

          That when this ditty’s done

          I needn’t write another verse

          Till 20 – 61!


*The MOUSETRAP, the Agatha Christie mystery which is currently playing at the St. Martin’s Theatre in London.  It is in its 34th year, the world’s longest-ever run for a theatrical production.   JL



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