This was another of Rodgers extravaganza’s ‘par excellence’. I think the publicity
flyers just about said it all. Ambience, dress, music, food, entertainment, it was
all covered. Even the price of Fifteen Guineas reflected the era.
The Friday before was spent frantically trying to get the clubhouse back to some
semblance of order following the kitchen renovation work. Don Barnett ran all the
crocks through the new industrial dish washer. Gordon Courtney, Nigel and myself
cleared the clubroom and quarterdeck of building materials, tools and rubbish. Rodger,
Diana and Pete arrived and set about laying up.
Troubles apart, on the night the club looked a picture, all we needed was a couple
of steam launches moored up outside and the odd Duisenberg or Bugatti Royale in the
car park to complete the effect. Certainly the members who attended entered into
the spirit of the occasion. Or maybe they just need an excuse to dress up. Either
way it was quite an evening.
It began with drinks at Shady Pete’s bar. Next door his floozy Liz Archer mixed cocktails,
no prohibition here, more a throwing off of inhibitions. Rodger (The Great Gatsby)
Wheeler appeared agitated but Gatso always gets a bit wound up until the speak easy
is humming. Pat (Fingers) Halling arrived with his mob. Their smooth exterior masking
an unrivalled degree of musical talent. The violin cases looked ominous!
Mike (Spats) Baker looked nervous. He’d seen the menu and was wishing he hadn’t had
the pickled eggs for lunch. His moll Marilyn also wished he hadn’t had the pickle
eggs, but for a different reason! The Ladies looked resplendent in a variety of feathers
and pearls, some even wore dresses! The men looked mean and several were obviously
packing. Hardware not suitcases, come on … do try to keep up.
Richard (The Local Grass) Cannon was filming everything as usual. He got his name
from the curious grass hula shirt he was wearing, no, don’t ask! This made Nigel
(The Fixer) Knowles uneasy. The last time someone took his picture it was full face,
profile and was accompanied by a set of finger prints. Eventually Gatso indicated
with his Chicago piano (machine gun for the less enlightened) that everybody should
sit down for supper. Shady Pete dispensed the French hooch while Gatso and his gang
dolled out the food from the soup kitchen.
Things finally quietened down and all that could be heard was the clatter of cutlery,
clink of glasses, murmur of conversation and occasional burst of gunfire. The menus
were not in English, causing some heated discussion as to what was on offer. For
those of you still wondering what it was all about here’s a reminder. Crudités, Charcuterie,
Les Petits Sauces, followed by Poulet a la moutarde ancienne avec yaourt, Judias
verdes con tomate, Jeunes Carottes, Riz Chou-fleur et Brocoli Gratinées. Followed
by Les Gateaux, Fromages Variées and Café et Delices de Turquie. Admit it! Your still
none the wiser are you!
Between courses and following dinner Fingers and his gang, consisting of Tony Kinsey,
Dave Richmond, Max Britain and Tony Coe ambled over to the band area and made with
appropriate era tunes. This was a rare opportunity to hear quality live music played
by such distinguished musicians. To experience something similar I guess you’d have
to go to Ronnie Scott’s. Oh yes! Pat (Fingers) Halling wasn’t bad either.
The evening was a great success. Well done Rodger for organising everything. Also
to his gang of helpers, Linda Wheeler for the Chicken, Quorn chicken and carrots,
Anne Bond for the Judias Verdes, Eiko Thompson for the rice, Eric Bridgewater for
the Charcuterie and Mary Dennis for the Crudites all of whom helped to ensure everything
ran smoothly and that a ‘St. Aquarius Day Massacre’ was avoided. The ‘concrete boots’
won’t be needed this year.