Autumn Dinner: October 13th – The Victory Services Club
Friday the 13th may be considered unlucky for some, but certainly not for the Old Friends and their friends who had a night to remember at the Victory Services Club.
The pre-dinner drinks reception was held on the balcony overlooking the recently refurbished Carisbrooke Room. With the tables laid for dinner, the stage set for the evening’s entertainment and a 6 feet high projection of the Society’s new logo above the stage, it was a very impressive sight.
The Toastmaster, Richard Birtchnell called the assembled Friends to dinner, before the first dramatic moment of the evening, when he unfortunately slipped off the stage! Richard sustained a nasty cut that later required stitching, but I can happily report nothing else was damaged other than his pride.
Thankfully, Richard was able to continue with his duties, the first of which was to welcome the President, David Langdown, accompanied by his wife, Jayne and our honoured guest, David Baddiel.
The President was pleased to welcome over 100 to the event, half of whom were guests. Several of these remarked at the end of the evening, and in email correspondence afterwards that they truly did feel amongst friends, and what a wonderful institution our Society is. Several commented on our traditions and values, the first of which was the attendance at all of the dinners of our bust of Jack Barwick.
It was a particular pleasure to see him on this occasion as he too has recently been restored, having been re-mounted on an English Oak base courtesy of Old Friend John Logan. His efforts were appreciated by all present who offered a warm round of applause as he collected a bottle of champagne.
A second bottle was presented to Joel Mitchell of OPI who was attending as a guest of Old Friend Steve Hilleard as thanks for his efforts in redesigning the Society’s new logo.
As always, the presentation and quality of the food was excellent and the wine went down very nicely!
The 9 o’clock toast to absent friends gave the President the opportunity to point out a hidden message in the new logo. Around the edge of the logo, there are two breaks in the pattern at the points the clock hands would be at 9 o’clock. This is to remind us that something is missing, Friends who can’t be with us or who are no longer with us.
The raffle to raise Society funds was drawn with prizes of £100, £50 and £25. The winners were Old Friend Steve Robinson, Caroline Barrett and Old Friend Stanley Vaughan. Steve and Stanley kindly donated their prizes to the Office Supplies Industry Charity.
The formalities over, the President took to the stage to welcome our Honoured Guest. It was, he said, a regular occurrence for people to randomly approach him and tell him he looks like David Baddiel. Nodding, laughter and calls of “he does” from the floor confirmed this to be true! This was a chance, the President said, to have both of them in the same room at the same time.
The list of David Baddiel’s accomplishments is extensive. Comedian, writer, director, producer, recording artist, creator for radio, television and the big screen. It goes on, in fact, it went on so long our Guest took to the stage before the President could finish!
It was a night of surprises, he said; the first surprise being that in 1963 his mother had clearly has an affair with the President’s father! Family was actually the theme of David Baddiel’s speech as he delighted the audience with extracts from his latest show, My Family: Not The Sitcom. His anecdotes, supported by photos and videos, covered his parents and his children, our attitudes to the dead and to offence.
He sat down to cheers and applause – a very popular choice of guest. He later tweeted how much he had enjoyed the event to his half a million Twitter followers.
But the entertainment was far from over as music took the place of comedy.
The Eastcoast Boys brought the highlights of their show, Big Girls Don’t Cry with over an hour of wall-to-wall Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons hits. Whilst some preferred to listen from the bar, most of the audience stayed to sing and clap along, with a hardcore dancing in the aisles until the encores finished around 11.30pm.
They finished with “Oh, What a Night”. They couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song.