July 2004 Archives - wibbler.com
Would the person that just emailed me about Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal kindly email me again? My oafish fingers managed to delete the email before I had the chance to reply…
“Do you want to be security for me for one night next July? He’s rich, and there’s ?100 in it for you.”
So here I was, one year later, sitting in the pitch black at the entrance to one of the largest houses I’ve ever seen. Paul D, old friend and Event Manager, was organising the night, I’d enlisted Jac as my comrade for the evening, and together our remit was to parade the substantial grounds, making sure no border mischief took place in the grounds. The event? A combination of one birthday, one A-level completion and a 25 year wedding anniversary. The location and family involved I’m sworn to secrecy about, but suffice to say that the party cost around ?35,000 and was frankly enormous.
The evening begin with a stutter. Jac had managed to catch the end of the M25 roadwork nightmare, and issued an urgent text message from the depths of his Renault, indicating a degree of lateness. No matter, I surmised, we’d built in lateness – and sure enough Jac turned up in time for us to don our bouncer attire – suit and a bow tie – and leave for the event. It was about 2 miles from my house – by no means a difficult journey but easy enough, we found, to turn up in completely the wrong place. A few minutes of calling loudly for Paul and a quick phone call ensued, before we bundled back into the car again, following revised instructions. We arrived – and took in the sheer enormity of the estate. The long gravel drive swept past the first field, a huge white tent gracing the area in front of the house and containing the dining area, dance tent and catering section. Leading from the tent, around the side of the house, were fairground entertainments – the Bucking Bronco, Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting and Dodgems. Round the back was the car park – and the headquarters for the event management and security team. Jac and I parked, bristling with excitement.
Paul briefed the team at 1700 hours, informing us that the whole thing should be finished by 2am, as he had to get home to London and up to a Farmer’s Market for 6am, the poor soul. Having had a tour of the grounds, we helped with the flowers (don’t ask) and then headed to our lookout points. Jac, as usual, chose the tradesman’s entrance, with the job of ushering in the staff and bands. I, meanwhile, stood imposingly by the front gates signing off party arrivals, while the third man (and joint organiser of the night) stood by the tent, offering help to drunken revellers.
And that, essentially, was that. The job of a bouncer is not to enjoy the event, but to enforce security – and we were barely challenged the whole night. We rotated our points throughout the night, spying for the slightest breach of security. And save for a passing policeman and a jogger, I can proudly tell you we weren’t breached. The intercom radios provided entertainment (“I’ll take them round the back, over”) and the fireworks at midnight were so loud and spectacular my mother rang from our house miles away to congratulate us. But other than that the night passed peacefully and enjoyably. We left Paul and the rest of the team and drove our weary selves home at 1.30am, hungry – and chortling at the thought of Paul and his imminent Farmer’s Market. Even Event Management has its downsides…
Well, tie me down and call me Bertha, I’ve been bombing around the country this week. Here’s a brief overview:
Hull – The fact that it rhymes with dull is no coincidence. Saved only by the magnificence of the Humber Bridge (see right).
Grimsby – As enticing as the name suggests. A constant and sometimes overpowering smell of fish hangs over the town, although the locals are oblivious after years of fishy assaults on their nasal passages.
The M62 – The views in some parts are spectacular. The drivers in the area, however, are not.
Leeds – Dark, but presumably only because I arrived late. Has not improved since the last visit, although the transvestite hitching a lift off the motorway was an interesting distraction.
Manchester – Surprisingly pleasant. However, a word of advice: never make jokes about back passages and Canal Street while in the city. Oooh, the stares I got…
Simon H, as many of you will still be in shock to know, is about to become a dad. So, in accordance with strange birthing custom, the girls all had a “baby shower” last Wednesday night, complete with “coo”s and “ahh”s and big pink balloons. So, Simon H was sat home alone. An opportunity, we thought, for some surprise male bonding without any girls present, under the guise of a “father shower”. So 6 of us turned up unannounced at his house that night – a stealthy operation that couldn’t have gone better if we tried. Still, in true bloke style, we hadn’t planned past the “getting there”, and there we sat for the rest of the night, supping beer, watching television and giving presents (Jac and I gave a packet of condoms – “so it NEVER happens again”). Still, it was emotional – the last time we’ll see him before the little sprog drops…
Before I go, I should mention the trip home. Jac and I had popped into the baby shower to collect Michelle, and noted that a considerable foody spread had been laid out. So, we took advantage, and piled a couple of plates high with biscuits, smarties, quiche and more for the trip home. I stumbled back to the car, noting my balance was a little comprised by the four cans of Stella earlier. This balance was to rear it’s ugly head again on the drive home – just as we turned a particularly vicious corner in the road. Cue the plate of food toppling out of my grasp, spreading its considerable contents all over Jac and the driver’s seat, to the cries of “OooooHHHHHHAAAAAAAA, QUICHE!” We were in tears of laughter for a full five minutes as Jac picked smartie after quiche after smartie off his floor. He was stll finding them on his drive to work the next morning…
Work is going well, there’s no doubt about it. I’ve been in my new post for two and a half months, and suddenly Michelle and I are whisked up to The Belfry for a weekend of revelry – all paid by the company. How could we say no?
It was knocking on the door of eight o’clock on a sunny Saturday morning, and Michelle and I were struggling to rise. The Company Weekend was starting in 5 hours – and the general idea was to turn up at a hotel, listen to the obligatory presentation, before setting about demolishing entirely free drink and food for the rest of the night. The thought if the upcoming fun spurred us on, and we arrived 200 miles away within 4 and a half hours. Speeding – us? The hotel is set in spectacular grounds, regularly used for the Ryder Cup, and we swung past the security into the hotel complex, suitably impressed. After mistaking the in-grounds nightclub for the hotel reception, we eventually booked in and made for the designated conference room.
I’ve learned two things about corporate events. One is that they usually involve a bit of teamwork – and this was no exception. Split into our “teams”, we were told that for the next 2 hours we were to build and market a breakfast cereal, which we would present at dinner. This required unusally high brainpower for a Saturday afternoon, especially with the Managing Director on our team, but we eventually cobbled together a cereal (“Crackawhack”), a marketing strategy – revolving around pimps in playgrounds selling our highly addictive cereal – and a few posters. Oh, and a jingle, which I was informed I would sing later on that night. Oh joy.
We retired, knackered, to our rooms a couple of hours later and waited for dinner. Little did I know how debauched the evening would turn.
The clock struck six thirty, and we sat down to be met with wine. Well, it would be rude to resist, and the entire room was fairly sozzled by the time were due to conduct our presentation. Things degenerated into hazy chaos, as each team tried, and failed, to present their ideas. At one point, two managers managed to lose their inhibitions and most of their clothes as they danced around the tables.
Michelle and Mark, my manager, decided to top off the night at the local nightclub, which was surprisingly impressive. Sloaney types strutted around, cheesy music blared out, and I managed to get away without buying a round for the rest of the night. At around 1am, we stumbled back to our room, leaving Mark and the rest of the funsters to dance into the night.