Food Vs Fun

This is what I went to for our work Christmas do. It reinforced my suspicions that food and fun do not mix. This is the first time I’ve been to one of these ‘dinner plus entertainment’ things, you see them advertised on the tube all the time (ABBA dinner! Murder Mystery!). At the risk of sounding like a dreadful old foodie snob you cannot really imagine this kind of tat being stood for in other European countries. These dinners exist because there’s a class of office bod who thinks just going out for a nice meal is ‘boring’, but that it’s well worth paying high prices (’10 a head over the St John Christmas Feast!) for getting your waitresses dressed as wenches and having a compere dressed as Henry VIII mugging through a script and dreaming of his Equity card.

(My work had no such excuse, we knew it was going to be rub and got what we deserved.)

Good aspects of the evening (there were a couple):

– the strongman act between the starter and soup. Nutter in his mid-60s pulling nails out of boards with his teeth. Frightening and slightly sad but also heartening that he’s getting the work (also genuinely quite impressive!)
– all the performers were very game despite the very small crowd – only 30 or so people there.
– sitting next to us were a 13-or-so year old boy in a suit and two much older men who had taken him out to dinner. They were from Azerbaijan, staying at the Ritz, and the men had enormous rolls of banknotes and left a very sizeable tip. Much speculation as to what their ‘story’ was.

Dreadful aspects of the evening:

– unlimited flat beer and weak wine.
– horribly dry chicken
– no salmagundi
– version of Whisky In The Jar performed on a lute
– dreadful pacing of the entertainment. Full-participation medieval madness for the first two courses, with several entertainers, constant noise and shouting, no time to talk to other people (it would be quite a good night out for an office that hates one another), then peace and quiet for a long stretch of chicken-munching, meaning you fall out of medieval mode entirely, then without warning the whole singalong business starts up again, just at the point you’re very very glad to see the back of it.
– constant smell of highly unmedieval disinfectant on the stairs, perhaps because Milords and Ladies have occasionally had a bit too much of the unlimited flat beer.

Thankfully everyone I was with thought it was awful so we had a good raised-eyebrow time and snuck off quickly for a pint afterwards. But let this write-up serve as a warning to the curious.