The following piece by Edward Mortimer appeared in the Oxford under-graduate magazine Isis on May 29th 1963. Edward is now Communications Director for Kofi Annan at the United Nations and an honorary Balliol fellow.
Edward (centre)
The two rivers that flow through Oxford are the Isis and the Cherwell. These are also the names adopted by the University magazines. Mesopotamia (between the rivers) was a humorous magazine started by Peter Usborne with Richard Ingrams, John Wells, William Rushton etc. This was the same team that later founded the satirical magazine Private Eye.
LAW REPORT:   University Court    Cancellarius v. Usborne                       
The Vice Chancellor took his seat on the pincushion at 2 p.m. Leave was granted to the Junior Proctor to present his indictment against Julian Christopher Usborne, unemployed, of Balliol College.

   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Mr. Vice-Chancellor, the case which I have to present to you this afternoon is a particularly regrettable one. For three years now the peace of this ancient and loyal university has been continually troubled by the irresponsible behaviour of one man. That man you now see before you in the dock, and you are going to hear from his own mouth the grisly catalogue of his offences. First, then, Mr. Usborne, will you tell the court, is it or is it not true that in Trinity term 1961 you did conspire with the Editors and staff of a publication known as Mesopotamia to print and distribute one thousand counterfeit tickets for the Commemoration Ball held in that term by Trinity and St John's College, and without any provocation or incitement from either of these colleges?
   THE PRISONER.--Broadly speaking, yes. But you could see they were forged because it said "Bring a bird and a bottle" at the bottom in small type.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- There is no need to be flippant, Mr. Usborne. I think the court will know better than to consider adding insult to injury a mitigating circumstance . You will recall the seriousness with which the proctors then in office viewed this offence?
   THE PRISONER.-- Yes, they fined me twenty pounds.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Thank you; and did you or did you not in the same term incur a further fine of one pound for a further offence, in that you caused gas-balloons to appear in every part of the city, to the considerable disturbance of the general public?
   THE PRISONER.-- I did.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- And what was your motive in so doing?
   THE PRISONER.--To get publicity for Mesopotamia.
THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- I am sure the court will be impressed with the seriousness of your purpose. Thirdly then, Mr. Usborne, were you or were you not responsible for a letter received by the editor of the said Mesopotamia in Hilary term 1962, purporting to come from the embassy of the Republic of Iraq?
   THE PRISONER.--Yes, I was.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Did this letter contain the statement "in the event of any further publication using the name Mesopotamia or any part of our territory, we shall be obliged to institute legal proceedings"?
   THE PRISONER.-- It did.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Was the statement believed by the editor?
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Did the letter receive considerable publicity?
   THE PRISONER.-- Yes, on the front page of Cherwell and in several national newspapers.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Thank you, Mr. Usborne. The court will note that you have admitted to a fraudulent and deliberate intimidation for an entirely frivolous object. Fourthly: Were you not, in Michaelmas term 1962 guilty of breaking and entering into the premises of the newspaper Cherwell , and abducting some twelve hundred copies of the said newspaper?
   THE PRISONER.-- No, we didn't have to break in. We were armed with coshes and things, but there was only one man there and he didn't take any notice of us: he just went on reading his book.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- What did you do with the copies you stole?
   THE PRISONER.-- We took them to my digs in 
Kinston Road and printed "CHERWELL OFFICES
RAIDED: Another Mesopotamia stunt?" in big red 
letters across the front page. Then we took them back to the office: they were on sale in the streets the next day.                                                          

   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Did anyone see you bring the copies back?
   THE PRISONER.-- Yes, the Union night porter. but he went back to bed because his wife was afraid we would do him in.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Thank you. Fifthly, did you not, later in the same term, send out two  
thousand counterfeit proctorial summonses to members of the University chosen at random from a list?
   THE PRISONER.-- Well, we did try to leave out dons, except for Robert Graves, but we got the Bursar of Balliol by mistake because he didn't have M.A. after his name.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.--I see. And were you not apprehended by the proctorial police-- who are, I think, to be congratulated-- while delivering the said summonses in Magdalene college?
   THE PRISONER.-- Yes, I had a fight with two of the brutes on the floor of the lodge, but two against one is not fair; nor is it fair to lock a man in the porter's room for half an hour and not even let him go to the lavatory.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- It is for the court to decide what is fair, Mr Usborne. Please tell the court what punishment you received after this offence.
   THE PRISONER.-- I was fined fifteen pounds and rusticated for the rest of the term.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Thank you. Sixthly, did you in Hilary term 1963 introduce fifty women into the Junior Common Room of your college in direct contravention of it constitution?
   THE PRISONER.-- Yes, I had to get rid of the senior officials for the occasion: I sent the president to have tea with Professor Beloff, and he left a note for him: "I was here, where were you?"; the Treasurer had tea with the Catholic Chaplaincy, and only discovered when he get back that he hadn't been invited; and the secretary went bicycling down the Iffley Road to a non-existent rugger practice.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- It's nothing to boast about, Mr Usborne. Seventhly, did you during the recent vacation spend a night in a hammock at the top of a pylon, belonging to the Gloucestershire County Council?
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- What was your motive in so doing?
   THE PRISONER.-- I was fed up studying the theory of Engineering. I wanted to find out what the structure of a real 

pylon was much it oscillated.   
    THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- Thank you. Now, eighthly and I sincerely hope, finally, will you tell the court in your own words what you did in the early hours of Wednesday, May 8th. 1963?
   THE PRISONER.-- Yes. There were about ten of us and about 3.30 a.m. we started moving a lot of turf which was left over from the turfing of a lawn in Balliol Quad across to a window which looks out on to Trinity. Some of us got through into Trinity and the others passed the turf out to us. We wanted to lay it on the floor of Trinity JCR but there were a lot of people in there. However we got them out quite simply by turning off the lights at the mains. Then we set work and laid them a beautiful grass carpet with daffodils planted in it. As the last lumps of turf were carried across the Quad we noticed a knot of Trinity men gathering in one corner and in a moment they were swooping down on us with wild cries brandishing fire-extinguishers and hosepipes. I suppose there was a pitched battle but I was so busy climbing a tree that I didn't have time to look and when I did peer out of the branches into the semi-darkness all I could make out was the night-porter quietly peeing on the grass.
   THE JUNIOR PROCTOR.-- You may spare the court the lurid details. To conclude, then, Mr Vice-Chancellor, you have heard the facts from the accused's own lips, and I do not see how you can reasonably acquit him. The only possible defence that could be advanced is that of insanity. Since fines are clearly in this case an inadequate deterrent ---being subscribed by the undergraduates of Balliol as fast as they are incurred-- I recommend that he be chained to the lectern in the Chapel of Keble College for the rest of his natural life.
   THE VICE-CHANCELLOR.--  I can envisage the result of that. Mr. Usborne, you seem to be a splendid fellow; come round to my lodgings for a glass of sherry. The case is dismissed.