Three Seasonal Events In Four Days, 13 to 16 December 2016

Mark Keegan Admires His Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Trophy Moments After John Random Awards Mark With That Great Honour, 15 December 2016

Brian Eno Singsong and Party, Brian’s Studio, Tuesday 13 December 2016

The first of my “three dos in four days” was at Brian Eno’s place – I have been invited to such dos on several occasions now, often but not always at this time of year. I have known Brian from the health club (BodyWorksWest, formerly known as Lambton Place) for quarter of a century or more.

The party is combined with Brian’s a capella choir gathering, allowing neophytes and bathroom singers like me to have an occasional go.

I thought I arrived in quite good time on this occasion, but the singing was well underway when I arrived; the regulars presumably having made a punctual early start.

The songs chosen were quite relentlessly morbid at first. There is usually a fair bit of spiritual blues material, but this set seemed especially bleak, with unfortunate folk being hanged for crimes they didn’t commit and all sorts. It wasn’t too difficult to pick up on the tunes quickly enough – I suppose that’s why they choose this material for the more open sing-song, but it didn’t feel much like party music at first.

The last couple of numbers were a bit more lively – not least All I Have To Do Is Dream at the end, sung in a doo-wap style. It helped me that I was standing next to a couple of very able, presumably professional singers, upon whose rhythms and harmonies I could latch. A few people afterwards asked me if I was a professional singer, but I’m sure they must have been hearing the sound emanating from those guys, not me.

Brian said that he couldn’t hear me this time, which is a good sign; presumably therefore an improvement on last time. But perhaps he also was deceived by my co-location with the professional-sounding guys.

Anyway, as on previous occasions, I also found the rest of the party great fun, meeting and chatting with several very interesting people. I also danced a bit to some excellent party mix music, well designed for the purpose (mostly 1970’s dance, with some earlier and later stuff thrown in).

I didn’t stick around until too late – I had a scheduled client call quite early the next day – so (as on every previous occasion) I missed the blood, guts, ambulances and police cars stage of the party. Brian subsequently told me that the emergency services stage failed to occur this time, to his intense disappointment.

 

Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner, Café Rouge Holborn, 15 December 2016

Since around the turn of the century, when fellow NewsRevue writer, Ivan Shakespeare, tragically keeled over and died while jogging, several of us have gathered a few times each year to keep in touch and reminisce about our NewsRevue days. Just before his death, Ivan e-mailed a few of us suggesting that we should regroup for that purpose, but never lived to see his idea to fruition.

Quite early in the life of this occasional gathering, it became part of our tradition to play a comedic quiz or two towards the end of the evening. I think it was John Random who initiated that idea, but several other people, occasionally contribute a quiz. Gerry Goddin latterly contributes a variant in which we all have to try to write jokes on suggested themes and Gerry allocates points (or deducts points) based on how well the jokes go down, his perception of each joke’s quality and/or Gerry’s authoritarian whim.

For the December gathering in 2002 (I’ll get around to Ogblogging it in the fullness of time no doubt) I went into a local tourist gimcrack store and bought the cheapest, tackiest piece of porcelain royal memorabilia I could find; then I emblazoned it with a legend declaring it to be the Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Trophy. Since 2002, that trophy has been played for earnestly each year. Nine different people have held the trophy over the years; I am proud to be able to state that I was the 2004 winner.

Anyway, it seems to be getting harder and harder to find a venue that operates flexibly enough for a rather haphazard bunch of former (and in some cases current) comedy writers to gather in mid December. Café Rouge Holborn has become the regular venue for the past few visits, but it seems they tried to impose a Christmas season “pre-ordering” regime on us, which was somewhat beyond the capabilities of John Random’s organising and our ability to be organised by anyone or anything.

So, half-a-dozen or so of us had pre-ordered and Café Rouge assumed that there would only be half-a-dozen of us (despite John booking the table for 10); which proved problematic once the eighth and especially ninth person showed up.

To be fair the staff tried their best in what seemed to be chaotic circumstances and did relocate us to a table for 10 quite quickly.

But poor Jonny Hurst ended up waiting for best part of an hour before any food was brought to him at all, at which point a starter and two main courses all turned up at once. I was half-hoping that Jonny would say, “do you know who I am? I’m Jonny Hurst, the chant laureate, that’s who”. Jonny might even have been forgiven for “doing a Jeremy Clarkson”…but Jonny is far too mild mannered and polite for any of that, even when he has a real hunger-on and everyone around him is tucking in.  Respect.

Eventually we played the quizzes. Colin Stutt offered a small quiz to warm us up, but the main quiz, for the trophy, was a very imaginative effort from John Random which comprised 10 maps, each of which had a location marked with a year. We had to name the movie that was made in that year set in that place.

I was pleased with my 7 out of 11 (one map had two years and therefore two movies and two points) but Mark Keegan pipped a couple of us 7-istas with 8 out of 11 to claim the trophy yet again – his fourth victory in 15 years. Respect.

Gerry Goddin ended the evening with one of his joke-fest games with some especially harsh marking  and the predictable result that Barry Grossman’s jokes pleased him more than anyone else’s – it is nearly always Barry who wins, very occasionally me.

A most enjoyable evening.

 

Z/Yen Group Christmas Lunch at Watermen’s Hall, 16 December 2016

For the first time in Z/Yen’s 23 Christmases, we decided to do Christmas lunch rather than dinner this year.

Linda and Michael conspired to find a five course extravaganza of a lunch at Watermen’s Hall, which seemed just the ticket in the circumstances. It’s a comparatively intimate and relaxed atmosphere for a guild’s hall; but now that Z/Yen is that much smaller, our group wouldn’t completely dominate the room.

Michael pipped me an e-mail the previous weekend to ask if I would write one of the traditional Z/Yen singalong songs – normally but not absolutely always my gig. 

(Previous Z/Yen Christmas events and songs will be Ogblogged in the fullness of time).

Anyway, the sight of the five course menu and the name of the Company that resides at Waterman’s Hall inspired a simple but effective song to the tune of Winter Wonderland – click here or below for a YouTube with Bing and lyrics.

But before exercising our lungs, we ate the following excellent five course meal, washed down with some fine wine and (for some, not me) port.

Z/Yen Group 2016 Christmas Lunch at Watermen’s Hall

(The Company of Watermen and Lightermen)

Menu

Torched mackerel, pickled and salt baked beetroot, horseradish crème fraiche

Smoked ham hock and chicken terrine, pickled apricots, watercress salad

Butter roasted Norfolk turkey, sage and apricot stuffing, bacon wrapped sausages, brussels sprout choucroute with chestnuts

Star anise poached pear, almond crumb, whipped clotted cream

Christmas pudding, brandy sauce

Michael kept me and Xueyi talking about GeoGnomo for a fair chunk of the meal, but otherwise we managed to steer clear of work chat.

Michael was also keen not to torture too many people with our song, but once there were only a few stragglers left (apart from we Z/Yen folk) we found a surprisingly receptive audience; indeed those Watermen and Lightermen joined in the singing with us, rounding off a fine afternoon.

♬ WATERMEN AND LIGHTERMEN AND Z/YEN ♬

( A seasonal song to the tune of ♬”Winter Wonderland” )

 

VERSES ONE AND TWO

Mackerel torched, beetroot pickled,

Ham terrine, we’ll be tickled;

We’ll eat Christmas lunch, Z/Yen Group as a bunch;

Watch us put on weight at Watermen’s.

At the start, we’ll be perky,

By the end, stuffed like turkey;

Five courses of nosh, all terribly posh;

Watch us put on weight at Watermen’s.

 

MIDDLE EIGHT

After eating turkey laced with trimmings,

We’ll tuck in to star anise poached pear;

Christmas pud as well, you must be kidding,

The brandy sauce could be a warning flare.

 

VERSE THREE

Head for home, very slothfully,

On the trail back to Lothbury;

Let’s hope that we scoff…ing walk our waists off;

Walking all the way from Watermen’s.

(RISING/ROUSING FINALE): Let’s hope walking makes us Lightermen!

2 thoughts on “Three Seasonal Events In Four Days, 13 to 16 December 2016”

  1. Torched mackerel sounds like eco-crime, not haute cuisine. Loved the waterman’s lighterman’s song, even without knowing the tune.

    1. My guess is that you do know the song, John, sometimes known as “Walking In a Winter Wonderland”. I have embedded the Bing Youtube in the article now, so you can listen to the song and read the topical lyrics at the same time. Parenthetically, I am doing same with my old NewsRevue songs now.

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