Z/Yen Seasonal Lunch And Outing, Watermen’s Hall & The Cinema Museum, 15 December 2017

Z/Yen returned to the scene of last year’s “crime” to take our seasonal team repast at Watermen’s Hall again.

Last year the Ogblog report of the event was combined with a couple of other events of mine. If you want to compare, you can read all about the 2016 happenings by clicking here or through the link below:

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

There was a very enjoyable pre-lunch Champagne reception, as last year, with everyone who is dining at Watermen’s having a chance to mingle. This year, coincidentally, one of the guests (at one of the other tables) is Kit, who lives in Janie’s former street and is an old friend of ours – small world, eh?

But soon we move on to the five course meal. The menu will be revealed along with this year’s song lyric further down this piece.

The main course, the goose, shown below, was the third course.

Our goose was cooked this year

I sat opposite Shivangee, who politely told me that i have been pronouncing her name wrong all the while. She looks surprisingly perky in the following picture given those circumstances:

Shivangee looks happy while pepping up the veggie option

We swapped rural India stories and I promised her I’d link her through to the most bizarre thing that ever happened to me in that part – here and below is that link:

The Day I Was Press-ganged Into Becoming a Live Cricket Commentator

But if Shivangee thought that I could talk plenty over lunch, she was soon to meet a real pro in the commissionaire at the Cinema Museum – more on him later.

In fact there is a very jolly, convivial, chatty atmosphere at Watermen’s. The alcohol flows lavishly through the courses, with a very interesting white port aperitif, white wine, red wine and the more familiar ruby port at the end of the meal.


To the left of me – Linda seems to be holding court…
…to the right of me, is Elisabeth in full flow, or is she literally chewing the fat?

With all of those courses, a room full of dinners and an appointment at the Cinema Museum to get to, we broke with tradition and decided to sing the Z/Yen Christmas song at the Cinema Museum instead.

But before that, secret Santa was a must at table. I was given some pencils with negatively-motivational messages on them. Is someone (Santa) trying to tell me something?

The Z/Yen staff also each got a Raucherman – one of those artefacts that you didn’t know existed until you were given one, then you realise that your life has previously had less meaning and that now, with your Raucherman, you are that much closer to being fulfilled.

We arrived at the Cinema Museum some while after the originally appointed hour, but still were asked to wait a while so that the head honcho, Martin, might address us (and take our money) before handing us over to commissionaire Maurice, who told us all about it and more besides.

So while waiting, we sang the Z/yen Christmas song.  A delightful Egyptian lady, Meena, was joining our tour and joined us in song as best she could:


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


Parsnip soup, fit for galleons,

Salmon soused, in medallions;

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.



After eating goose with Christmas trimmings,

We’ll tuck in to Perouche cheese with pear;

After Christmas pud, you must be kidding,

With rum sauce that could be a warning flare.



Then in Lambeth you’ll see ‘em,

Tour the cinema museum;

The Z/Yen team en masse, with guts full of gas;

Walking off their lunch from Watermen’s.

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


Z/Yen Group 2017 Christmas Lunch at Watermen’s Hall

(The Company of Watermen and Lightermen)


  • Parsnip & Chestnut Soup
  • Medallion of Scottish Salmon, Champagne Sauce
  • Roast Breast of Goose & Confit of Leg, Tarragon & Ginger Crust, Red Currant Jus, Chateau Potatoes, Sugar Snap Braised Red Cabbage Broccoli & Baby Carrots
  • The Cook & The Butler World Famous Traditional Christmas Pudding, Christmas Pudding Ice Cream, Oranges in Caramelised Oranges, Rum Sauce
  • Yule Log of Perouche Cheese with Pear

No it is not the same song as last year – totally different.

Totally. It’s a different menu for a start.

Once we were in the extremely talkative and capable hands of commissionaire Maurice, we were soon singing again – this time the ABC Minors Club Song.

Commissionaire Maurice gets us singing and thinking about old cinemas

The big thing about that site for the Cinema Museum is that it is the site of a workhouse in which Charlie Chaplin lived briefly as a kid. Sadly the site is being sold and the museum is at risk, unless its joint bid with the Peabody Estate sees off the hard-nosed commercial interest in the site.

There is an on-line petition – click here to find it.

Talking for Britain – don’t mention Brief Encounter to Maurice

It was a quirky tour but very interesting. I remember some of those old cinemas, not least the ABC in Streatham Hill, the Odeon a bit nearer Streatham proper  and the Granada across the road from dad’s shop on St John’s Hill. Linda remembered similar from her youth. Maxine and her friend, who came along just for the tour, must have wondered what on earth Maurice was talking about half the time.

A few of us retired to the Old Red Lion in Kennington for a drink and a chat after the tour. James Pitcher proved very good at asking and Alexandra proved very good at answering pub quiz type questions such as “which two tube stations have all the vowels in their names” and “which tube station has six consonants in a row in its name?”. We spent quite some time trying to solve the mystery of the beautiful film starlet whose picture we couldn’t identify. James “phoned a friend” who rather brilliantly responded Pier Angeli rapidly and correctly. Respect.

We drew the line at playing the truth game and at that juncture decided to draw stumps on a hugely enjoyable Z/Yen Christmas event.

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)


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.


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



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.



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.



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!