A sea of faces, a life of a party
The Grosvenor House on Park Lane (now known as Le Meridien Grosvenor House) houses one of the largest conference venues in London. Not quite two years ago I attended the gathering of a utility industry lunch. Tonight is yet another huge industry event.
I arrived just as the pre-dinner cocktails were ending. I found my name at table 65. Out of the 1,200 who were attending, I managed to find 5 people whose names and faces were familiar to me. And that was very reassuring.
Otherwise, it was a sea of faces, strangers in black tie or cocktail dresses. Like other energy events I've been to, it's populated by men. And as a result, it's harder to remember their names, because, after awhile, they all look alike.
The head waiter introduced himself and apologised for interrupting our dinner. Apparently a silver purse had been found --- in the gents. Would someone please come and collect.
Then he broke out in the most amazing tenor voice, a passage from a famous aria. The editor sitting next to me remarked that the waiter wasn't really from Italy, where she was from. She could tell by his fake accent.
A short while later, a French waiter got on stage and claimed that he was dared by a guest to sing. His tenor voice was equally amazing as the first. I concluded that the hotel probably hired music graduates or music students as waiters.
But how wrong I was. Yet another waiter, an Englishman, walked down the stairs singing West Side Story. Before long, the three waiters were singing pieces I recognised from the radio.
This was just the beginning of a night of entertainment. These were not waiters, but "The Three Waiters" --- as in the three tenors (get it?)
Following this act appeared Lenny Henry, who was funnier than I remembered him. He had tailored his 40 minute stand-up comedy act to the occasion, even bothering to consult th industry publication. I laughed uninhibitedly - almost rollling to the floor.
After Lenny came the barrister-trained TV presenter Clive Anderson to present the industry awards. He had something funny to say about each candidate. It was then that I realised how much I enjoyed the dry, deprecating sense of English humour. It's not "in your face" (obvious) like the American slapstick comedy.
A sumptuous 5 course dinner with all you can drink, it was. But now is finally the moment I've been waiting for --- when the dance floor was freed to the guests. The DJ moved to centre stage, and his entourage of young, straight-haired blonde girls with revealing belly buttons showed up. They danced to encourage everyone to move to the floor.
I didn't need any encouragement, and soon I discovered there were plenty of dance partners waiting in the queue. Of all the people in the room, who did I long to be?
Not Lenny Henry who made people laugh. Not Clive Andersen who made people chuckle. Not the managing director of a large company. Not the DJ.
You guessed it! Why didn't I think of working as a dancer when I was a young chick? It's the best job in the world --- to get paid to dance like no one's watching!
8 December 2003 Monday