LOST IN TIME…….AN AMAZING STORY 90 YEARS OLD!
The A.O.F.B. was founded in 1924 by Bert Temple eager to show gratitude to Sir Alfred Fripp , an eminent surgeon , and prolific fundraiser with many friends and patients in high places – including the British Royal Family. Sir Alfred had performed a life saving stomach operation on Bert . Remarks from Sir Alfred some time later in his consulting room in November 1924 during a post operation consultation regarding raising funds for the Invalid Children’s Aid Association was all that was needed ; Bert offering to raise the sum of £100 for Sir Alfred’s charities and the A.O.F.B. was born. No mean feat on Bert’s behalf considering the average weekly wage was around £3 at the time.
Bert initially produced Blower membership cards with silver A.O.F.B. cufflinks which were snapped up by the ex-members of Bert’s regiment, The 1st Sportsman’s Battalion. Membership being charged at a one off, life membership of 5 shillings. When Jack Haes sang the Froth Blowers Anthem ‘The More We Are Together’ in the London Stock Exchange the A.O.F.B. really began to take off. One of the earliest books in existence has a membership number of 29,198 issued around the 20th May 1926.
Not to be outdone, and keen to be included, women of the day joined up and became Fairy Belles under the Angelic Order of Fairy Belles, life membership at 5 shillings as per male counterparts but an A.O.F.B. wristlet was designed consisting of a silver badge on a black silk ribbon.
A.O.F.B. meetings were held in the Vats, primarily pubs, clubs and hotels where alcohol and food was available for consumption.
As the membership book tells us ‘ The word Vat will be used for discriminating the Gatherings, Meeting places and Haunts of A.O.F.B.’s.’ Vat gatherings were conducted with the senior blower acting as ‘chair’, seniority determined by membership number or rank . Invariably the publican or licensee recruited blowers and as such had the highest seniority or rank and therefore the ‘chair’. Badges of rank were awarded , along with privileges, for the recruitment of blowers to the cause. To become a Blaster 25 members were needed to be recruited , 100 members to be a Tornado , 500 members a Monsoon , 1000 members a Grand Typhoon and Cloud Burst for 2000 members . The seniority ranking also distinguished the seating order at gatherings with the higher the membership number seated furthest from the liquid refreshment.
The membership book tells us ‘ The Senior Blower (or higher rank) will inspect his immediate surroundings making sure that he is amply equipped with tankards (full) , a paviors beetle or piffle snonker, cash or oast box, cork screw, thumb screw, booklet, pennant and other Froth Blower’s implements deemed necessary to preserve dignity and order. Before any ceremony is permitted all tankards or glasses must be filled. After all are seated the S.B. will appoint a hefty sub assistant vice-gargler who will create silence when necessary. A crypt like damp silence having been obtained, the S.B. will then give the command SHOOT YOUR LINEN, BLOWERS. All blowers will then jerk both arms to the table, to their immediate front, and at the same time using sufficient energy to fully expose BOTH cuff links. The S.B. will then inspect the cuffs of his neighbour on his left side. This action will then be carried out automatically round the table. Any irregularity to be immediately reported and the defaulter to stand up to receive sentence.’.
All sorts of ingenious forms of fine were introduced to help fund the coffers including penalties of a round of drinks for not wearing both cufflinks or singing the Frothblowers Anthem for missing a single link. By 1928 £100,000 had been raised for children’s charities! All this despite opposition from the Temperance Movement who opposed the AOFB on the unfounded grounds it was being supported by the beer trade. The AOFB had over 650,000 members but it all came to an end when Temple and Fripp died in the early 1930’s. Both Temple and Fripp were clearly having fun but did not encourage drunkenness-their motto was “Lubrication in Moderation”.
See the following link for more information about the AOFB