It was – as all present agreed – the party of the year. Lavish to a degree, with corks endlessly popping and a pleasing abundance of oysters on ice, the knees-up for 500 guests on Friday marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of The Old Bank Hotel and its Quod restaurant. The owner Jeremy Mogford proved, as ever, the most generous of hosts.

There was a trio of delicious cocktails (Bellini, Studio 54 and 20-20 Vision, in which were blended gin and ginger beer), three more non-alcoholic ones, wines red, white and sparkling, and a bottled Spanish beer. Trays of delicious canapes circulated throughout, and first-class DJs had everyone moving on the dance floor.

This was an eloquent reassertion of the Old Bank’s position at the centre of the city’s social life, notwithstanding the arrival nearby of an upstart rival (where a number of the same people – including me – had been present for opening festivities a week earlier).

With considerable chutzpah on Jeremy’s part, the free tombola – at the back of the vast tent out on the terrace – was offering a booby price: dinner for two at The Ivy.

As I have previously written in this column: “Few people have added more to the sum of human happiness in Oxford – and indeed elsewhere – than Jeremy Mogford.” For ‘few people’ one should properly substitute ‘nobody’.

His history of hospitality here dates back to 1976 with the opening of his and then business partner John Mayhew’s Browns restaurant in Woodstock Road – a significant stretch of which was occupied by the ever-present queue.

Here was hosted each New Year the best party in town – the hottest ticket, with everybody out to secure one. The fabulously attractive waitresses, for which the place was famed, were ever on parade. It was a huge pleasure on Friday to see so many of them again, still looking wonderful.

Among them was perhaps the most famous of them all, the legendary Linda Thorne, the cynosure of all male eyes. As presented in a life-size sculpture in the window of a London gallery, her curvy form was thought too frighteningly real – she portrayed a terrorist – and had to be removed on the orders of the police.

The artist she sat – or rather stood – for was John Buckley, later to show us “the fright on the tiles”, aka the Headington shark.

Not a few of Friday’s guests had been present at the Old Bank’s opening party in the dying weeks of the last millennium.

Some months before that – in April 1999 – I was shown over the former Barclays Bank building by Jeremy, hearing of his plans for the place as the workers commenced the revamp.

This carried on a tradition begun many years earlier, in 1984, with a site tour of Gee’s and later of Jeremy’s first Oxford hotel, The Old Parsonage.

My Gray Matter article about the project – which I began with the words already quoted above – was headlined: “High times coming – we can Bank on it.”

That this turned out to be prophetic has been emphatically proved in the years since.

I had forgotten, until I turned up the cutting, that this was the first significant hotel development in Oxford since the creation of The Randolph 135 years earlier.

At that time, I see, an August opening was anticipated. No doubt there was a problem over the building works, as there was for Raymond Blanc with Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, at Great Milton. This resulted in the appearance of the Michelin Guide – with its two-star recommendation for Raymond (he has held it ever since) – before a single meal had been served there.

I notice, too, that the promised 150-seat restaurant was not to be called Quod but ‘Alto’. I wonder what prompted the change.

In other respects, Jeremy gave us what it said on the tin. I wrote: “Fresh produce, organic where possible, will be used for an eclectic mix of dishes, part Italian inspired, including pastas, risottos, and grilled meat, chicken, fish and seafood.”

In concluding my piece, I speculated about the cost of the enterprise and wrote: “I fancy Jeremy will not be long recouping [the investment] as civilised Oxford hastens to participate in a welcome revival in the fortunes of the High.”

Hasten it did – and we still do.