The End of 2009 & Pat Halling’s Musical Extravaganza
Friday the 11th December 2009 began the Aquarius celebrations that ended the 2009
calendar for the club.
The evening was cool and dark but the clubhouse glowed warmly ahead as members navigated
their way along the narrow upper path that remained open with the river at such high
The cosy new entrance was lined with tables groaning with food and the main clubhouse
was warm, friendly and prepared for the entertainment that lay in store for those
who had ventured forth.
Chairs were arranged in two sets of arches one on either side of the music rostrum
that waited for the five musicians scheduled to entertain us this frosty Friday.
The stage was bathed in light from above and the area demarcated by gold streamers
hanging from the ceiling. The whole place exuded warmth and expectation that resulted
in an air of quiet excitement that increased as the numbers grew and the wine and
spirits warmed us.
Pat Halling’s wonderful String Quartet had Tony Coe as the guest star playing clarinet
and saxophone. The music opened with the promises of "Spring" from Vivaldi’s "Four
Seasons", an event which we are informed will herald a Barbeque Summer in 2010.
The first half of the evening ranged over a selection of popular classics, some classy
film music and some popular songs. Those who had not experienced the quality of the
string quartet before were very surprised at the standard of the music and those
who had enjoyed them previously were certainly not disappointed.
After what seemed just a few minutes the first half ended and we were presented with
a sumptuous supper that included a fine selection of cheeses, dips, olives, etc all
beautifully presented to an accompaniment of fresh crusty bread.
The second half of the evening featured more of the magic of Tony Coe, both on saxophone
and clarinet and we were treated to some very classy jazz. However the violins were
not outdone by the soloist and they were all kept in time by Myrtle Bruce-Mitford
who strummed her Cello like a double bass.
The pleasure on the faces of the membership was obvious but I could not help feeling
that the musicians were being entertained as much by an appreciative audience as
we were by their playing. Either way, a wonderful evening of great music was enjoyed
As is usual in these events there is a small team of people whose efforts make them
happen and for that we need to thank Roger Wheeler and his crew for organising, presenting
and cleaning up after such a great evening.
Sunday saw many of Friday night’s audience return for the "Cheats Christmas Lunch"
and for this effort we have to thank our Commodore and his team.
As has been the norm for club lunches, the day was bright and sunny so we really
should have been working outside but who cares! By noon the club was already bustling
with volunteers and with the light twinkling and the tables set the place was again
warm and welcoming.
Pre-lunch drinks gave many members the chance to meet, greet and mingle which is
probably why club social activities attract more participation than our sailing events.
It is certainly nice to see families all enjoying themselves at the club.
Although lunch is prepared under the watchful eye of the Commodore, serving is traditionally
done by member’s children. Perhaps with the success of this year’s youth training
programme, those children are likely to be better sailing members that their parents.
With everyone seated, lunch flowed from the galley like a rising tide and we were
soon supping on soup, chomping chicken with all the trimmings and plodding through
pudding. Just as space fillers, the tables all had a selection of fruit and nuts
and to remedy a sudden drop in blood sugar, chocolates were stacked for emergency
I am told that this year’s lunch fed more members than ever before so not only did
Tony’s team do a fantastic job, they broke a record as well. Thanks very much!
The afternoon passed from bright sun to early winter’s dark and having stuffed ourselves
full and perhaps imbibed enough liquor to be a bit fuddled, we all engaged in a bit
of brain straining. In the end I got home before A, B, C, D and E, the men in the
Five Routes puzzle had succeeded in reaching their respective abodes, although I
did sit down immediately and get them home too.
As with all club events, there would be nothing happening if it were not for those
who put in the effort to organise them and they do a tremendous amount of work. Equally,
without the support of the membership there would be no appreciation of the events
and thus no reward for the effort by way of "bums on seats".
In writing this article I convey my appreciation of the volunteers for ALL the work
that is done for the club and to the members who support that work. I know that my
appreciation and thanks is echoed throughout the membership so, thank you all once