The 943rd meeting of the Paddock Party Committee was held at a number of venues on 1 January 2008. This wasn't as a direct result of the Committee being unable to agree where to meet at the last meeting but more a matter of members agreeing to meet in different places. It helps if you're somewhat inebriated when attempting that sentence.
The Chairman asked whether we were quorate. No-one said much to that being either unsure of what the current choir rate was or whether to admit to having been quarantined recently.
A rather large number of starters, appetisers and the like were on display at the residence of the Chief Saladeer where most of the Committee commenced their deliberations. An even greater number of pistacchio nuts, however, lurked near bottles of wine in another room so they were duly dispensed with. One member tried to confuse things by replacing the opened shells in the same bowl as the unopened ones.
Dishes included one entitled Lithuanian Aphrodisiac prepared moments before by the Minutes Secretary who appeared not to have succeeded in resigning after all and a wide variety of vegetables in varying degrees of dressing.
Staggering across the road to the Chairman's domain in twos and threes took about twenty minutes where further supplies of fine wine and champagne were available and limited quantities of non-alcoholic beverages. Here members were treated to vast quantities of slow-cooked chicken, beef and other dishes plus another range of vegetables.
A new member of the Committee created something of a stir when greeting a lady with the remark You've got legs! Now, normally this might have been perceived as bad form but he uttered the word legs! with such relish that the owner of the aforementioned blushed and appeared quite pleased and business resumed.
It was noted that the owner of the legs had just reached a Notable Golden Age and there were several points of order, punctuated with Cheers, Toosoo! and request that the Member give a speech for she was a jolly good fellow or a similar combination of those words. Thanks were recorded for the super efforts of the Member for Arts in providing suitably irreverent and immensely entertaining posters to mark the Leg Member's achievement.
Presents were opened at the first venue and cake candles lit at the second. The procedures for cutting the cake had to be dispensed with on this occasion as the device for said cutting, which might have resembled a slice did in fact bear more resemblance to a substantially different type of device for which totally new instructions would need to be consulted. The handle bore several buttons. Pressing one produced a noticeable vibration accompanied by an approximation to the Happy Birthday tune only one of which was particularly pleasurable. Other button-pressing brought further vibration and variations on the celebratory theme. Some twenty minutes passed while Members regained their composure and witnessed the obligatory destruction of a delightfully decorated gateau.
There was some discussion as to exactly how the Member with Telescope had assisted the Chief Saladeer with the creation of an extract from the sheet music for Happy Birthday (fortunately now out of copyright) including accurate treble clefs.
During consumption of the main course the Member with a Maths GCSE assisted the Minutes Secretary and the Member with Telescope in their impression of Bookends.
There then followed a batch of quizzes designed to assess members' knowledge of carol titles, new year around the world, pirate actors and their ability to listen. It was unanimously agreed that the Chairman's Wife had excelled herself not only in the production quality of the handouts but also in the amalgamation of such a bizarre group of topics.
The Station Master excelled himself by recognising 100% of the pirates but other members failed miserably in the tests of their knowledge. Particular noteworthy was the performance of the Member with a Maths GCSE who proceeded to ask Can you read that again? on each occasion that the QuizMeister announced Listen carefully - I shall say this only once. No-one thought to mention 'Allo 'Allo but the occasion was almost as funny.
The Member with Legs asked whether any Committee Member wished to share their New Year's Resolutions. Being late on January 1st all Members succeeded in pretending to have forgotten them, fearing it being found out that they had failed to honour commitments of about 22 hours earlier. Whilst some Members feigned inebriation and others deafness, all were relieved that the Member with Legs didn't press them further.
The highlight of the meeting was the switching on of The Chocolate Fountain. There was some mumbling about something being smaller than some had expected which may or may not have been a reference to the device but all conversation ceased abruptly as the moment of switch-on arrived. Consulting the instruction manual, the Chief Saladeer pressed the electric switch and immediately there was a tremendous whirring and wobbling as the structure of the device rotated in a decidely dodgy fashion for a minute of two. White chocolate and brown chocolate were drawn up the central tube and for a moment it was thought that this might be the very first sighting of striped chocolate in England. However, a slightly lighter brown sludge appeared at the top, courstesy of Mr Archimedes and his screw, and splodged pleasantly down three dishes that formed the fountain platters.
Mercifully, at this point the wobblying ceased and chocolate flowed evenly and the thing stabilised. Members grabbed their melons and other accoutrements and approached the descending choc with their prongs outstrectched. After a quick twirl in the mixture and leaving a trail of melting Belgian across the tablecloth there was much yumming and generally approving noises made.
2008 had well and truly begun in style. Well, we wouldn't have had it any other way, now, would we!