My thanks go to Tom for his suggestion on how I should avoid any wardrobe malfunctions at last night's Ball. As he lives in Iowa, his suggestion that I should wear suspenders would make perfect sense to him, and, I guess to most of his compatriots. However, I suspect that anyone from Britain reading that advice would get a completely different image, suspenders "over here" being what I believe those on the North American continent call "garters". Wikipedia covers it all here.
Divided as well we may be by a common language, we are clearly of one mind, Tom and I, as my braces did indeed help to avoid any impromptu aardvark impressions. (Oh, and thanks for that image, Matt). Freed from such concerns, I had a truly splendid time. The Ball was in aid of the NSPCC, a very worthy cause indeed, and about 400 people were there. All very classy, in the main, although I did spot one chap in full evening dress but wearing a Bluetooth headset.
Of course, the whole idea of events like this is to get people to dig deep, so there were charity auctions, raffles and the like. This was the star lot on the main auction:
That's the world's first customer Jaguar C-XF. The reserve price was £34,000 so I kept my hand in my pocket (and played with my garter straps). I think it went for £44,000 eventually. Men with Bluetooth headsets need not apply.
The good news - I did get to win my very own Jaguar in the raffle.
The bad news - it's a model.
The good news - this is no ordinary model. This is a 1/12 replica D-Type. It's handbuilt from steel, best part of a foot long, beautifully detailed and is apparently a limited edition collector's item.
I was all for giving it to Katie's dad - a huge Jaguar fan - until I actually saw it. Sorry Glynn, I'm keeping this, and the very moment I get a house with a study, it'll go on display. In fact, sod that, I'm displaying it anyway. My first real car cost considerably less than one of these.
And who was this taking to the stage for the evening's entertainment? None other that Tony Hadley. I'll admit - I was less than enthusiastic at the thought of this. Most male pop stars of a certain age over the last few years seem to have reinvented themselves as sub-Tony Bennetts so I was expecting a certain degree of crooning.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when Tony and his band tore into the Feeder song "Buck Rogers" with gusto. Oh. My. God. This was a complete beer-out-of-the-nose moment. Given that the opening lines of the song are "He's got a brand new car, Looks like a Jaguar" is was probably a deliberate inclusion. But he then followed it up with a set that included tracks by The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs. And he belted them out with all the urgency of a man half his age. Clearly no crooner, our Mr H.
Of course, there were the obligatory Spandau Ballet tracks. Including one of the Holy Trinity for those of us of a certain age.
Let me explain. If you're in your later thirties, you were a teenager during the 1980s. If so, you spent 35% of the decade asleep, 25% playing with a Rubik's Cube and pretty much all of the remaining time trying to get members of the opposite sex to dance with you to one of the following three songs:
- Save a Prayer - Duran Duran
- Careless Whisper - George Michael
- True - Spandau Ballet
In fact, it is a truth universally acknowledged that this part of the disco was known as the Erection Section, such was the amount of angst-ridden hormonal activity going on.
For my international cadre of readers - I don't know if any of this translates to you. For all I know, teenagers in Ulan Bator might well get on down to the throat-singing vibe they have going on over there. All I know was that in the early hours of this morning, the man who I heard singing "True" during too many of my ancient rites of passage was there in front of me singing it one more time for real. I was back in the Main Hall at King Edward VI Grammar School, Aston. Whilst there was no-one selling Fanta this time, I did at least have my special someone with me.
And we danced.