AOFB - Froth blowers (A.O.F.B.)

I recently came across a fun and interesting parody of the Freemasons – the A.O.F.B.

The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers was a humorours charitable organisation which combined their benevolence with the love of a brew. The purpose of this noble group of beer drinkers was to '"to foster the noble Art and gentle and healthy Pastime of froth blowing amongst Gentlemen of leisure and ex-Soldiers".

Running from 1924-1931, it was founded by Bert Temple, an ex-soldier and silk-merchant, initially to raise £100 for the children's charities of the surgeon Sir Alfred Fripp. One of the Order's first meeting places was the Swan, Fittleworth, W. Sussex - the 'No. 0 Vat'

The A.O.F.B. (as it was) ceased to be on 8th December 1931.

But do not despair! Some quaffers preserve the memory of the Order and there is a modern English web site for it, showing happy young lads and distinguished gentlemen astride barrels of beer, tipping their mugs to the camera. The Friends of the Froth Blowers; a site dedicated to the memory and preservation of the A.O.F.B.,

The Order’s founder, Bert Temple wrote a Christmas message in the Sporting Times dated 18th December 1926;

‘In June of this year we totalled 6,000 A.O.F.B.'s; September 25, 25.,000; November 10, 70, 000; December 10 112,000 and before the year ends over 150,000 Blowers will have received their little booklet and silver cufflinks or wristlets… hastening to the cause of Companionship, Charity and Cheerfulness, in their rush, scattering their gifts to the wee waifs.' … ' Sir Alfred Fripp has acknowledged £7,500 already, and before Christmas Day ten thousand pounds will have definitely been paid to the Sir Alfred Fripp's Wee Waifs' funds by Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers. And not a single penny will be wasted. (Indeed the following years saw a total of £76,000 (1927) handed to Sir Alfred rising to £100,000 by 1928….) My first Christmas wish to you all is astounding good health and astonishing good times ! To all at home, to all overseas, and especially to all those boys in the outdated British Sentry Boxes dotted all over the world who were the first to acclaim with boyish glee the advent of Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers and all it stands for : CHARITY, COMPANIONSHIP and CHEERFULNESS ……..and don't forget our slogan "LUBRICATION IN MODERATION, " and thus give old Pussyfoot Johnson, and all his freakish tribe, no opening for foisting his unnatural tastes on to our British beer-loving, baccy-loving and beef-loving palates.'

The reference above was to "Pussyfoot" (William Eugene) Johnson (25/3/1862–2/2/1945) an American Prohibition advocate and law enforcement officer. In pursuit of his campaign to outlaw intoxicating beverages, he openly admitted to drinking liquor, bribery, and lying. He gained the nickname "Pussyfoot" due to his cat-like stealth in the pursuit of suspects in the Oklahoma Territory.

For five years the Froth Blowers extolled Britishness and "Lubrication in Moderation". Their song The More We Are Together, an adaptation of "Oh du lieber Augustin" was heard everywhere.

The more we are together, together, together

The more we are together

The merrier we'll be.

For your friends are my friends

And my friends are your friends,

And the more we are together

The merrier we'll be.* (* I have actually heard this song sung in a Melbourne Lodge with the word 'merrier' swapped for 'happier'.)

The A.O.F.B's popularity was particularly upsetting to the Abolitionists who believed that it was alcohol which caused the "wee waifs'" suffering; not something a doctor and surgeon-to-the-King should be sponsoring. In 1927, Walter Greville of the Good Templars (a temperance group) described it as "the latest recruited ally of the liquor trade", saying that "for ridiculous vulgarity and foolish methods it took the first prize". Sir George Hunter, speaking for the Fellowship of Freedom and Reform in 1929, called the Froth Blowers "a disgrace to the country".

Nevertheless, the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Hailsham, described it as "a great charitable organisation". When the surgeon Fripp died in 1930 his Times obituary said of the Froth Blowers, "These, by their innocent mirth, assisted by a catchy tune, have contributed largely to charities, and have entertained and brightened the lives of innumerable children.

Quote from the AOFB handbook

"A sociable and law abiding fraternity of absorptive Britons who sedately consume and quietly enjoy with commendable regularity and frequention the truly British malted beverage as did their forbears and as Britons ever will, and be damned to all pussyfoot hornswogglers from overseas and including low brows, teetotalers and MPs and not excluding nosey parkers, mock religious busy bodies and suburban fool hens all of which are structurally solid bone from the chin up".

Sources (read plagiarised from)