ICG Burns Night – January 2016
ICG Burns Night at The Market Porter: 21st January 2016.
Having spent the best part of an hour on my totally unheated and positively Arctic train carriage from Dorking to London Bridge, and wishing I had worn a much thicker jumper, I hurried along past Ted’s Veg stall in Borough Market and along Stoney Street to The Market Porter.
‘Please let it be warm’, I thought to myself as I made my way past the throngs of people on the ground floor in the bar, and upstairs to our room for the annual ICG Burns Night Do.
Well, I needn’t have worried. With a fire burning in the grate, our own private bar, a large glass of Shiraz and warm greetings from the lovely Robin Shuker, resplendent in his tartan trews and black jacket, and a big hug from a very elegant Arthur Fletcher, Burns Night began.
After sharing a few stories at the bar with Jacqueline Servat and Midge Clayton, we took our seats at the tables in our ‘teams’. Teams, you might ask? Oh yes. Teams for the splendid quiz, imaginatively prepared by our quizmaster, Arthur. On our table, Andrew Smith and Andy Booth from Firebrand had organised a group of 8 of us to be divided into Team X and Team Y. Competition was fierce, my lovely friend Mary Leslie and I were on opposing teams, and the gloves were off!
Before Bridget arrived, Andy, Scott and I changed our team’s name from ‘Team X’ to ‘Team Princess’ (and next year I think we need to ome up with some imaginative names for our teams).
The quiz was a mix of Arthur asking us questions out loud, and us answering some written questions on sheets, including the very enjoyable and surprisingly difficult ‘guess who these very early photos of famous Americans are’.
(Don’t worry Scott, I won’t mention who on our team took a shine to a photo of a very young and surprisingly attractive woman who turned out to be Sarah Palin – oops, too late, the secret is out!)
Our team missed out on winning by one point (‘we was robbed’, of course) and I’m not sure whose team did win because they were sitting a bit far away, but jolly well done, Winning Team!
(You know how great it is when you know the answer to something a bit wacky? To give you an idea of one of the questions, I was very pleased with myself when I knew the answer to the question about which plant family do tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes belong to? Answer – nightshade.)
We had a Robbie Burns recitation from – as occasion demands – a native Scot – this year – Simon from Swiss Peaks – and it’s the first time that I’d really noticed how (to use Andrew’s term) ‘earthy’ some of Burn’s writing is!
Thinking of Scotland, did you know that England and Scotland were once in the southern hemisphere, and that our lands were separated by a vast ocean called Iapetus?
Then it was time for supper and to ‘address the haggis’. Hello Haggis! Two huge haggis (haggises? haggii?) arrived on our table and quick as a flash Andrew stabbed them with his dagger in case they ran away. I can’t comment on their taste because I had the veggie version, (which was far nicer than two years ago!).
There was also whisky to drink of course, and more red wine. Here is where my memory starts to become fuzzy for some reason. We had some more poems to read out and Andrew also read some very good jokes (thanks Kevin Mclean). I could also hardly wait to tell my joke which I shall refer to as ‘number 42’. Although, she says enigmatically, it could also be called 59 – or indeed, 64. Or 91, for that matter.
Peter Martin told a very funny joke and while we were waiting for more volunteers to face the braying and frightening mob that was the ICG audience I filled the gap with ‘The Brown Paper Kid’ joke. May stood up and did an excellent tongue twister, and if I remember correctly we had some more drinksh.
And then what happened? I think we all needed another drinky or three. Well I know I did. There was a vote for best joke, or poem recitation, and I hid my face in my scarf because I didn’t want to see who voted for me; but I did vote for everyone else with both hands at least, and possibly a foot as well, but I won!
I’m not sure which joke I won for, but I did win a bottle of red wine, and in celebration of my prize I simply had to tell my Beaujolais joke, which a blurry sea of faces seemed to enjoy (even though, and perhaps because, it’s a bit naughty).
I staggered up to the bar later and spoke to the delightful Tariq Mirza who I’d met at our Christmas party, and who I note from his card is Managing Director of Europe; so you see, I know some very influential people in high places now.
You know what they say … be there, or miss out! Miss this, or be square! Or something like that, anyway.
And apart from celebrating Burns Night, we were also celebrating Andrew Smith, who had completed his final ICG committee meeting that afternoon, and who, for those who may not know, has also been our chairman in the past, and who is a jolly decent and lovely chap.
So thanks Andrew, thanks Lucie, thanks Midge and Arthur, and thank you to everyone at the ICG who makes it such a great – no – who make it the BEST group I have ever belonged to, and one of which I am very proud.
Well, this is just my version of the night – everyone else will have their own version of course. So don’t be square, and come next year! But before that, there will be other events including the summer party, and the Christmas party of course!
A very big thank you goes to our sponsors Swiss Peaks and Cobalt Sky.
Story filed, with love, from Corky – your very own ICG ‘Princess at The Palace’.