(I thank Richard for his help in preparing this account of the event's of last Saturday).
And members of the Bridge Club, then a bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not there
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That dinned with us upon sweet Anne's birthday
On Saturday 28th August we gathered to celebrate Anne's 19th birthday. An event which for sheer entertainment value far exceeded all expectations and which has gone down into the annals of bridge club history!
I'm not certain which of that night's events I should report, my initial thoughts were that there are somethings which are best left in the oral history of the club. I expressed these doubts to Geoff and Rich. They stated that they expected me to stick to the HARD FACTS. No need to elaborate, just report what happened. No need for tabloid sensationalism, stick to the OBJECTIVE FACTS. "You can't go wrong mate".
By the time I arrived at the Rat and Parrot Andy, Ben, Rich, Kevin and Geoff were already there. I was pleasantly surprised that Geoff did not make a craic about my beer. I guess that his thoughts were elsewhere because Anne and one of the friends (friend number 1) were also there!
Unfortunately I made a faux pas, greeting Anne with the first thing that popped into my mind. "Where are your other three friends?" She didn't seem very pleased and my attempt to smooth things over "Sorry, your other four friends", didn't improve matters. After that she hardly spoke to me all evening, except to explain the depths of her "antipathy towards Kevin", a more gentle expression than the one she used. Admittedly, she'd been knocking the champers back a bit by then (see latter). This was much to Geoff's disgust, who explained patronisingly that it was to be savoured and not poured down the gullet like petrol being pumped into an engine.
Geoff, at 19 many experiences are still new and exciting to Anne. She's not a stalwart of the club. Know what I mean?
Saturday night was to be a meeting of two groups. Anne's friends from school and the bridge club. A difficulty at these joint-outings is a natural tendency for the participants to remain apart. Geoff had made detailed plans several weeks before the event to prevent this and upon arrival at Pizza Express things got off to a good start as Andy - grinning like the Cheshire cat - sat between Anne and friend number 1. (It's not a skill that you can teach, you either have it or you don't). We were eventually joined by Captain Dan, Anne's remaining friends (numbers 2, 3, and 4), an associate from work (acquaintance 1). The last arrived with a hanger-on (Japanese guy number 1).
Anne joined the bridge club in 1998 and it is no small token of the esteem in which she is held that this bash was organised. Several of Anne's friends had brought her cards and small gifts. The income of the bridge club attendees is approximately 100,000 a year. No expense was spent on her gift and present from the bridge club. Instead we signed a (free) postcard, attached to appropriate messages, which was placed in a very attractively designed envelope that had been procured by Geoff. The center piece of her card was a small poem, lovingly written by Rich and Geoff, which celebrated her attendance at the last Mountain Hut Trip. I suppose if the Bridge Club had had foresight, then we too would have followed the lead of her friends and given her some cards.
Unfortunately, despite valiant efforts by Geoff, Anne's four friends refused to be split up and sat in two groups. Once again Andy had done it - he was sitting between friends number 1 and 3. It was sheer pleasure to watch him action.
During the main course Geoff left the table to order a special desert for Anne. When it arrived the waiter bent down onto one knee, presented Anne with her Bridge Club Card and then declaimed the fruit of Rich and Geoff's hard work.
A Birthday Poem for Anne
There was a young lady called Anne.
Who prayed every day for a man.
She quite fancied Mika,
but wanted someone quicker.
And three inches longer than Dan!
As Anne's friends cheered and exclaimed their delight the expression on Anne's face showed that she was moved by the occasion.
During a meal of this type it's important to have someone who, forgoing their own enjoyment, makes sure that the wine flows copiously. Richard did an excellent job at ordering wine, paying attention that on her birthday bash neither Anne's glass nor, more-importantly, that of her all-important friends was ever empty.
At this juncture special mention must be made of Dr. Andrew Hardy. Andy celebrated his first paycheck by buying three bottles of champagne. He is a bridge club hero (first class), and his actions would not go unrewarded by the end of the evening.
The actions of Andy Hardy have been noted in the annals of the bridge club.
After he had poured the first bottle, Andy stood up and gave a short speech. He too had written a short poem celebrating Anne's activities within the club.
Andy's Ode to Anne
There was an accountant named Dan.
Who fancied a young girl called Anne.
She was fine from the waist up,
with a lovely D-cup.
What a shame she looked like a man!
In return, Anne stood up and gave a short speach.
ANNE'S SHORT SPEECH
"I'd like to thank all of my friends for turning up".
In view of preceding incidents Anne was being very gracious in not saying "I'd like to thank all my friends, and members of the Bridge Club, for turning up".
It was unfortunate that the combination of champagne, wine, and sitting next to the dashing Dr. Hardy was too much for one of Anne's friends (number 3, I think). I say unfortunate, because it was at this moment that the social barriers were collapsing and we were learning about a side of Anne that has been previously hidden. The headmaster incident. Anne's young admirer (Dean), in whose honour Richard splendidly improvised a moving poem. (But not so splendid that I'm going to include it here). How much more might we had learnt if the evening had not ended so early?
And so, for the second time that evening, Dr. Andrew Hardy was the man of the moment. He stood up, and in a calm voice - as a junior doctor he is used to females swooning at his feet - pronounced "In my professional opinion". He enjoyed emphasising the phrase "professional opinion" so much that he started again. "In my professional opinion, the young lady is not very well, not very well at all". Thank you Andy. He then went over to the bar, where he stood chatting to a young female, initially thought to be a mere waitress but actually the proprietor, for a considerable length of time (His initial chat-up line "I'm surprised that you haven't thrown us out already!"). Perhaps the sexy-voiced young lady that Rich spoke to?
It was almost time to depart. But there was still time for one last incident. The casual flicking of blonde locks to attract attention, to and fro they swung, to and fro they swung. The gentle caresses of her delicate fingers. The rough roamings of her small hands over the broad shoulders of a bridge club hero.
No sensationalism. No tabloid-screaming headlines. Just the facts. Just the facts.
Well, that's seems to be all. And I didn't have time to mention the humourless incident of the phone call to Captain Dan whilst he was fully occupied sitting down. Still, they next guy to come out of the toilets went back to his table and within seconds they were all laughing. So someone found the exchange funny. All Anne's friend (number 1) could say was "How much is this phone call going to cost me"? "How much is this phone call going to cost me?" Over and over.
Friends went home (3 and 4). The rest of us walked towards the city centre. Friend number 1 was last seen talking to Geoff, before making a dash for a taxi. She was so eager to make a getaway that she didn't even say goodbye to Anne.
The last comment of the evening falls to Rich, who tells me that "I don't think the stains will ever come out of my trousers". The rule of 17 I suppose, but isn't it apo'pos of Monica Lewinsky?