Some bizarre incidents lately. Last week I was scheduled to give a talk to my local family history society. Owing to an oversight, the venue had double booked our room and we were expecting to meet in the smaller room next door. I had duly reminded members that we were to be in a different room, so that we didn’t keep barging in to the other function. In the end it turned out that we were given our usual room and the other booking was moved next door, so I then had the task of intercepting my audience on arrival. Oddly, given that we meet at 2.00pm, the other function was a hen-party, who were awaiting the arrival of their male stripper. Many a joke was cracked about the potential defection of my audience to the room next door. I think some of them were hoping that the ‘entertainer’ would be as confused about which room he was supposed to be in as we were.
Then yesterday it was off to Dorset, via Somerset where I was to collect a cauldron, as you do – well as I do anyway. The car was already full of deactivated guns that we were delivering to Dorset (as with many of my activities, it really is best not to ask). There had been some sort of terrorism scare in Devon. Despite it being legal to carry these guns, we really didn’t want to be stopped and have to explain ourselves. The journey passed without incident however and I am very pleased with the cauldron, which will probably be a more effective weapon, should I need one, than the deactivated guns.
We were heading for a seriously posh hotel to celebrate a young lady’s very good examination results. I don’t really do posh. Don’t get me wrong I can clip my vowels with the best of them, I can do posh I just don’t very often. If I tell you that items on the wine list went up to £6445 a bottle (and no I haven’t left out a decimal point there) you will get the idea. Even I (a non-wine drinker) know that a £50 bottle of wine is better than one for a tenner from a supermarket near you but £6445, really? How is that possibly £6395 better than one for £50? There was a visitors’ book in the reception of the hotel and the last signatory was Lady somebody or other – are you getting the picture? We are tempted to talk about when we met Princess Anne in resounding tones and we loudly recite a list of our televisual appearances, so we are probably holding our own. A random guest, with gold rings the size of knuckle dusters approaches our guest of honour asking what she was celebrating. Initially, we all think he must know someone else in our party but it turns out that he didn’t and that this was his ‘local’. He weaves off to order more champagne. The staff have spotted cards and gifts on our table and come out with a cake, candle and birthday greetings. We debate maintaining the fiction with a rendition of Happy Birthday to You.
Half way through our meal I start to feel a bit peculiar. This is not like me and not wishing to faint in front of the minor aristocracy, I go outside for some air. Typically, this is the ten minutes during the day when the hot sunshine has given way to thundery rain. I clearly look less than well as the staff are proffering glasses of water and chairs under the pergola. They are probably keen to usher me to an inconspicuous corner before I vomit on their patio. I sit on the chair before I realise quite how wet it is, so I now look and feel as if I have had an unfortunate accident. Equilibrium restored without being embarrassingly unwell, I return to my seat, thinking that, if I have a relapse, I can put the cauldron to good use in the way home.
We learn that Chris Evans is about to bring round some million pound cars on which people have bid tens of thousands of pounds in order to drive (that is drive for a hour or so, not drive away). This is in aid of Children in Need, so the maitre d’ is sporting Pudsey ears. Now I may be odd but to me a car is a means of getting from A to B as safely and economically as possible, with as little damage to the environment as can be achieved. I am totally unimpressed by makes of car and no way would I be interested in parting with any sum of money to drive expensive Aston Martins, Bentleys or whatever they were. They have four wheels, just like the battered Nissan Micra we arrived in, so what?
Anyway, people seem to be impressed and Chris Evans arrives on a motor bike. Pudsey appears from somewhere. It is about 28 degrees; who would want to be wearing a bear suit? People start trying to take surreptitious picture of Chris Evans and some simpering sycophants are saying how much they enjoy his radio show. Someone a little closer to home is muttering, none too quietly, ‘We never liked him in The One Show.’ So not everyone is dazzled by celebrity then. It is time for us to extract the battered Nissan Micra from between the Range Rovers and Jaguars. As we leave the car park we narrowly miss knocking Chris Evans from his motorbike as he zooms across our path. Never let it be said that life is boring.