Un-napped, showered, dressed and decorated, I went down for landlady to take photos. Inexplicably, she got out her camera too and took more pics of me with that than landlord took with mine!
With mask, without mask, with jacket, without jacket, now hold the mask to your face, now by your waist, now up here. Felt like a publicity shoot. No desire to be a celeb.
She said to me, "No inhibitions, have lots of fun." And I did. I turned on the charm and sparkled wildly.
The car came late and there was lots of traffic, so I missed the champagne reception, but I find those boring and tiring on the feet anyway. I was seated at a table of friendly people (as they all are at the club) who welcomed me with open arms (almost literally) and we launched into the sort of conversation expected of members of a literary and arts club. BUT I was the only person of the lot I met who actually had studied it, so got all the hard questions and forced my mind around a lot of information I had not touched in a year.
Dinner was two hours long, there were red and white wines flowing, and the menu was all in French but it went like this:
-- Prosciutto ham with melon, rocket and parmesan, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar
-- Fillet of turbot in a saffron cream sauce on a bed of ...celeriac I think. What's that bulb thing with the ends cut off, that is also the name of a seed in the herb cabinet?
-- Beef medallions with tiny parisian potatoes and spinach (Medaillons de boeuf, pommes de terre parisienne, et epinards...qqc) ooh la la.
-- Mousse au chocolat (in martini glasses)
-- Cafe et folliards (?) - espresso with tiny mince pies
Out on the courtyard terrace were two towering figures dressed up like 18th century Venetian masqueraders. V. Cool.
Vica, who sat on one side of me, was a vegetarian and did not like her mushroom risotto, and I didn't want all my spinach and potatoes. So we shared, and she, being Polish, was happy that I knew how to say Nasdrovye (Cheers). She wants me to go to the opera evenings and is going to make sure I go.
All evening I got: you're so lovely and exotic, where are you from? I dug up my heritage countless times and then had to do it again for the cab driver on the way home.
My mother hens (Elizabeth & Paul) looked out for, but could not find, the Club director so that they could introduce me because he would know exactly who I needed to know. All evening, she kept saying she hopes I will meet the people I need to meet there.
They loved my mask, even more so when I told them I'd made it. Elizabeth showed it off to everyone else for me. I didn't even mention my handmade bracelet and ring!
There was a raffle for some things, including a stay at the Mandarin Oriental, and I was asked to pull out the first number. The mic wasn't on so we couldn't hear what the prize was; neither could we hear what was being auctioned next, although guests - and staff - were bidding blindly. Something to do with golf.
During dessert the jazz band struck up. Drums, bass cello, flute/clarinet, piano and vocals.
When it came time for dancing I had a dance each with the 3 men on my table. Two of them were older and knew how to dance, so I followed. One was younger and made it up as he went along but did it so well I asked how he'd learned; this was my first attempt in years (and only my second time ever - the last time being with Dad at their 25th anniversary) so we butted heads once.
Then Elizabeth introduced me to another table which included Ian the membership director who said he was glad to see me there but that I ought to go round more often. The member Lee and his 4 guests work together in the media department of Barclays and they were a nice bunch. Lee danced with me twice. We were both rubbish but still better than worse, and I was the one saying, "Let's try a twirl", in which I ended up twirling him the second time...but when you end a dance with your hand being kissed it makes up for the cafuffle, so I curtseyed in return. Once, all 5 of us danced together, including Belinda who left her crutches behind for it.
Back at the table, Sue said she loved my dancing and how my skirt swished around. Huh!
I told her, were it not for the crinoline skirt, the dancing would look appalling.
It got so hot that at one point I had to go and stand outside on the steps. A few people went by, peering curiously through the doors (as I would if I were them). One group went by and after a lingering look, one commented, "...Looks nice..."
Then there was more dancing and by the end of the evening the staff were letting their hair down, although the major domo, Giulio? Luigi ?, had been swinging a very smooth shoe all evening! In fact he was better than most of the guests!
I had ordered my car for midnight, so I went out at 00.01, found the driver, and told him I was right on time. He said, pointing at the clock, "No, you're one minute late." (Oh, the coach will turn into a pumpkin!) I asked for another minute so I could do goodbyes, and Lee kissed my hand again. Back out at the car it was 00.08. I said, "Ooh I am 5 minutes late." He said, "Six." He was funny.
And I am not missing a shoe.