It’s December, so of course the eating and drinking goes into overdrive.
Starting on the very first day of December; lunch with Michael Mainelli, Brendan May and John Lloyd at the Guildhall. Great to catch up with those guys, it brought back to my mind a quite interesting 2003 evening in a TV studio with Brendan and John – now Ogblogged – click here.
The next day, cousins Jacquie and Hilary Briegal came to Noddyland for a late lunch that morphed into early evening. Jacquie couldn’t resist bringing some of her famous chopped herring for us, although, as any fule no, chopped herring cannot take part in “herring of the year” contests, which in any case have to be held at Jacquie’s place – click here for the most recent example.
In any case, herring didn’t form part of the Noddyland meal, which comprised smoked salmon nibbles followed by Janie’s (Daisy’s) famous wasabi beef fillet dish and finally danish apple cake. We hadn’t seen Jacquie and Hils for over a year; it was great to see them again and have a chance to reciprocate Jacquie’s warm hospitality.
As usual, Daisy had massively over-catered, so I was able to lunch on some left over beef, sauce and potatoes couple of times during the week, including Thursday…
…which was probably just as well, given the tardiness of the Cafe Rogues meal in Holborn that evening, at the comedy writers Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner.
I reported last year on the ruthless efficiency with which the venue forced us to pre-order and the chaos and long waits that nevertheless ensued. Last year, it was Jonny Hurst who took the brunt of the tardiness, waiting about an hour longer than everyone else for his main course. This year, Jonny was again such a victim, but I too was one of the chosen people for this indignity. Perhaps we weren’t served a full hour later than everyone else, but surely at least half an hour later.
To add insult to indigestion, four of us were served our deserts some 30 minutes after everyone else. Jonny escaped this time, but I was caught twice – along with Jasmine, Barry and John for the lengthy dessert desert.
Still, everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Nine of us gathered this time; me, John Random, Jonny Hurst, Jasmine Birtles, Colin Stutt, Hugh Rycroft, Gerry Goddin, Mark Keagan and Barry Grossman.
Jasmine and John brought crackers. John Random’s were very special; he had doctored some real crackers, emblazoning them with a picture of Michael Buerk and describing them as Moral Maze crackers.
With Jasmine’s crackers, we played our regular Christmas game of trying to work out the feed line from the punchline of the corny cracker jokes…with limited success this year as the jokes were so corny. Examples:
A. A monkey burp.
Q. What’s silent and smells of banana?
A. Mrs Sippi
Q. Who is the most famous married woman in America?
But John had doctored his crackers with moral maze dilemmas to replace the corny jokes. Example:
Q. What do you get if you cross a sheep with a kangaroo?
A. A series of far-reaching ethical questions that go to the very heart of modern genetics.
Tut tut if you read that question and thought the answer was, “a wooly jumper”.
Traditional quizzing after dessert…or in the case of the four of us sorely neglected souls…during the dessert.
Colin Stutt again did a warm up game, taking the best jokes from the fringe for the last few years and seeing if we could remember the punchlines or construct good/better punchlines ourselves. I reckon I did a reasonable job on 10-12 out of 30 of them, actually knowing the answer to only a couple.
Mark, the holder of the Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Trophy, naturally led the main event quiz. I’m usually in with a chance when Mark writes the quiz but so are one or two other people. In a close run contest this year:
- Hugh Rycroft, impressively but not impossibly (there was even a nod to Hugh’s “Impossible” TV show in the quiz), scored 52;
- I scored an impressive but ultimately inadequate 55…I coulda been a contender but all I got was a one-way ticket to Palooka-ville;
- Jonny Hurst stormed through to take the trophy with a breathtaking 58.
Yes, the place was ridiculously noisy. Yes, the service was poor, except when it was terrible. But at Christmastime, almost everywhere is thus. These Ivan Shakespeare gatherings of good old friends are always lively, witty evenings that make me happy; that is the bit that really matters.