Belfast enjoys the unique distinction of possessing a club for which there is no entrance fee and no subscription – a club which came into existence in a haphazard manner, and demands of its members two things only. Firstly, they must have a sense of humour, and, secondly, they must always carry with them a nutmeg!
It is from the second rule that the Nutmeg Club gets its name, and the nutmeg is also symbolic of the object for which it exists – to add spice to the lives of its members, who, to the number of six hundred or more, are spread all over the world.
The club is not entirely frivolous, and the breaking of the second rule carries with it the penalty of a small subscription to charity. The unforgivable crime Is the breaking of the first rule, and as deficiency in this respect is regarded as irreparable, the offending member is at once asked to resign.
It has been said with great frequency and truth that great things often have little beginnings, and though it would be wrong to take this as an axiom, it is true that the Nutmeg Club would never have originated had it not been for the old belief that a nutmeg, carried in the pocket, is a cure for rheumatism.
Not that the members were originally creaking rheumatics. “No, sir!” as the Americans say. For some reason or other someone in this practical age circulated the rumour that the fruit was also an infallible enemy of overdrafts at the bank. Of course, members flocked to the banner. Does it work? Ask a member; but remember that sense of humour!
The nucleus of the club meets for tea and coffee every morning in a Belfast restaurant. True to the traditions of such clubs, they have their own signs and passwords. One of the former is productive of a drink, provided you get in first.
The club has recently “unanimously” elected its president for 1934, and looks forward to a prosperous and happy new year.