Lady Captain’s Blog: Ladies’ Christmas Dinner

Dare I start with Karen Buckels’ speech?? No, it would take too long – I’ll come back to that!

Ladies assembled in good time for the Christmas Carvery, undertaking lively negotiations for places on tables. There were definitely a few deals done (did money change hands?), though everyone seemed happy with the end result, which is the main thing.

We had a bit of a shuffle of cards – Christmas cards, that is. Barbara, Andrea and I co-ordinated efforts to try to empty the concertina folder of ladies’ Christmas cards. Like playing cards but on a much larger scale. The temptation to shout “snap!” was almost too great! I’d be no good at poker – I wouldn’t be able to take it seriously enough. I reckon snap’s my limit.
It’d be a bit like being in a library and feeling a little mischievous. You know when you have that urge to say something loud and just see what happens – that would be me.

A pal of mine (Harry) was on a boy’s trip out some years ago, and somehow (heavens only knows how) they found themselves in some kind of social club in the middle of a round of bingo.  Well, you can picture the scene, all these ladies taking the game so seriously, concentrating on their cards, bingo pens poised to pop, all hoping for that jackpot moment. Then what happens, some banana who’s obviously had a few sherberts at that point, shouts “House!”. Which is fine if it’s genuine but this, of course, was a bit of a ruse. Well, Harry was lucky to get out alive by all accounts – the guys ran for their lives rather than face the wrath of the Bingo Belles!! They won’t do that again in a hurry!!

Back to Hindley Hall and the cracker-pulling started, with plastic moustaches, spinning tops, mottoes and all sorts pinging all over the room. Linda Bailey was a bit upset when she thought she didn’t have a hat in her cracker. A full strip search – of the cracker – finally revealed the little tinker tucked in a corner. Panic over!

I’m rubbish at winning the ‘Cracker Pull’. How can you be rubbish at something like that? Seriously though, I won one of my contests against Andrea but that’s about the first time for ten years or more. Maybe my technique is flawed. I suppose it’s a bit like golf – if you get a bit wristy anything could happen. I’ll practice for the next Christmas meal. If anyone has any tips, do let me know.

That’s another thing too, on the subject of crackers. Despite getting the ‘winning’ end of my cracker, the snap didn’t, err, ‘snap’. You see, I manage to get one bit right and something else goes haywire!

Thanks to Bev for arranging the tables with her usual panache. I was tempted to try to smuggle one of the reindeer into my handbag but, sadly, my little bag wouldn’t quite hold the table centre. Bigger bag next time, I reckon!! Maybe it’s like crackers – perhaps I’d be better with bigger crackers. Maybe it’s the grip. What’s the equivalent of three-putting with a cracker? Deep questions this evening – and not a drop of gin has passed my lips! Hmmm… I might come back to crackers later.

Can you believe it, as I’m constructing this drivel, I have the footy results on and Wigan have just won 4-0. 4-0, that’s amazing! Away at Wimbledon too, and hubby’s gone to the match, so he’ll be a happy bunny on the journey back! (And since then they’ve even score seven away at Oxford – the world’s gone bananas!!)

Where was I, oh yes, crackers. No, not me (well maybe me) but those funny things you have on your table around Christmas. Where you groan at the mottoes whether they’re funny or not. Moving on, and after the fabulous meal, I thought I’d risk some entertainment. Always a tricky balance this, finding something that’s fun that hopefully all ladies will be fine with having a go at.

It’s not easy you know, this Lady Captain lark – I reckon a good LC has a chance at Kofi Annan’s job!

Anyway, I risked handing out some sheets of dingbats. You know, like the ‘Catchphrase’ you cringe at on TV, but can’t quite resist having a go at, shouting at the TV as though they can hear you. Maybe they can – I hadn’t thought of that. Too much coffee, it’s sending me barmy.

Dingbats are a bit of ‘say what you see’ (I nicked that from Catchphrase) combined with a bit of lateral thinking. Having handed the sheets out, I returned to base camp, poured myself some vino and sat back, desperately hoping ladies would have a bash at The Dingbat Challenge. Sweat was just breaking out on my brow when I heard some ladies discussing what the ‘it’ was lying down. Phew, at least someone was having a go.

I did have trouble with one table though. You can probably guess which – it was the one with Pat Entwistle and Pauline Pilkington on. There’s always trouble when those two get together. “What’s all this dingbat lark?” So I had to explain – as soon as I mentioned ‘Catchphrase’ they were fine, to be fair. I promised I wouldn’t mention who else was on this table. Ivy Wardle, Maureen Ashurst, Marjorie White, Bev Fairhurst, Cath Burgess and Kay Bibby. Oh, did I put that in print?? Well, we know I’m not going to heaven, so nothing to lose!! Happy days.

It was getting a bit quiet again, so I took another chance and called for a round of ‘Heads and Tails’. That game where you stand up, put your mitts on your head or your bum, and a coin of suitable value is tossed and the resultant ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ called.

So, I started off well, or so I thought, announcing that whichever I called out, be it heads or tails, those people should sit down. Well, I thought I had a riot on my hands – “No, it’s the other way round!” came the call. “No, it’s right as it is!” Kofi Annan – see what I mean?? So I did the first round my way and promised to do the second round the ‘alternate’ way.
Tension swamped the room as ‘heads’ sat down and then ‘bums’. Finally, after a tense standoff, we had a winner, no less than Past President Pauline Pilkington, or PPPP as she is known. Would I risk a second round? Well, you have to, don’t you. Bit of ‘Pass the Parcel’ first though, calm some nerves before I enter the lions’ den a second time.

You’d think ‘Pass the Parcel’ was easy, wouldn’t you. Well I did. We had music on tap, but not everyone could hear it, so I ended up shouting “STOP!” as loud as I could when Music Master Olivia pressed the ‘pause’ button on the music system.
The only snag with that was that somehow Karen Buckels won the parcel FOUR TIMES on her table! Ludicrous. Every time I turned round, Karen had the packet in her hands. Maybe it didn’t move round at all??

Then, finally, the parcel did manage to find it’s way into Angela Shawcross’ mitts, though I do believe Karen ended up with the final prize in the middle of the paper wrapping. It’s just a good job Karen didn’t give a long speech later in the evening. Oh she did? More of that later…

Incidentally, mid-blog and my little phone has just signalled a message on Facebook. I definitely have ‘L’ plates when it comes to social media, so don’t be expecting too much from me. However, a little mole has revealed that, allegedly and all that, Cath Burgess was holding on to the parcel a little longer than anyone else when it landed into her mitts in the ‘Pass the Parcel’. It wasn’t gin in the middle of the parcel Cath, or Prosecco! Have to watch that one!!

So, having survived the ‘Pass the Parcel’, and fortified by a glass of wine, I got all brave and thought I’d risk a second round of ‘Heads and Tails’. I know, I’m shaking just at the thought. It did seem like a good idea at the time, as did reversing the instructions in response to the first round heckling. Phew – here goes! Well, to be fair, it did seem to work out okay (no one threw anything, which is always a plus) and Moira Purtill survived with hands on bum to win a bottle of Shiraz.

Marking of the Dingbats came next and, to be fair, everyone seemed to manage the challenge okay. I think, basically, ladies’ competitive nature came out and drove all the tables towards the finishing line. Bit of a dubious winning table though. Having seen Karen Buckels so successful in the ‘Pass the Parcel’, she was once again on the winners’ podium as her table scooped the Dingbats prize of mini boxes of chocs. The winning team were Marjorie Dickinson, Sandra Brogan, Karen Buckels, Joyce Hutchinson, Sue Wilson, Anita Moyster and Angela Shawcross. Handicap system needed next year, I reckon. Watch ’em Linda!!

Well, here we go – we had a few prizes left from earlier in the year and today seemed as good an opportunity as any to present them. The only snag is that left an opportunity for the successful ladies to say a few words. Here’s where Karen comes into her own.

To be fair, Karen’s taken a little ribbing for missing presentation evenings and committee meetings due to her extensive travelling and travails this year. (I’ve even threatened that Karen will have to do an extra year on Committee to make up for it!) So Karen made up for her absences – in fine style! Karen, you’re a star, and certainly had us hooked with tales of your year. We all now have visions of you with wellies on in Joyce’s camper van, exiting the camp site at a rate of knots as high tide threatened. Only you could laugh through that Karen!

It must be said though Karen, getting the North East mixed up in your tales with the Far East could be a bit tricky. I mean the local lingo in the North East can be challenging, but I suspect you and Joyce would get up to far more trouble in the Far East!
Karen was followed by Joyce in the speeches, though Joyce was a little more concise. Thanks Joyce (phew!!). Then we had Cath Burgess who, trust me, did her very best to get out of saying anything at all. We did manage a few words from you Cath – it’s all good practice!

Then, just when I thought it was safe, Bev and Kay grabbed the limelight and sneakily presented me with a bottle of gin for the Sugarcraft Modelling Evening. Very naughty girls, especially with your little play act about giving me a gin bottle with very little gin left in it. I’d have happily believed Kay had snaffled the majority of the bottle, too!!

The thanks for the Sugarcraft evening go to everyone who was able to attend and who thoroughly engaged with the fun of the event – thanks girls. That’s a great note on which I can retire from sugarcraft demonstrations!!

Next in proceedings came the Hamper Draw. It must be said that Lynne, Liz and Barbara have done a cracking job with the hampers, and the ticket-selling. The table looked spectacular and it’s a credit to everyone for their generosity in getting involved in whatever way.

The Hamper Raffle is always a popular event, as is Shirley’s Tombola, and both do a great job of raising funds for the Club. Shirley’s Tombola this year made a record profit of over £900, amazing! The Hamper Raffle also smashed records by raising £363. Girls are much better at fundraising than guys, and this is a great illustration of your skills – FABULOUS!

I must say I did like the idea of the ‘Hangover Hamper’. I’m sure we’ll hear what Richie Randell thinks of it! I like that kind of lateral thinking – it starts the brain working on what could be done at the next Hamper Raffle. My brain’s hurting but there’s a tinsy winsy bit of mischief fighting it’s way through….love it!!

Shirley is retiring as Head of Tombola, and Vice Captain’s wife Linda Walmsley is keen to keep it going, at least for 2018. Once Shirley’s brains have been picked on what needs to be organised, volunteers will be needed to get involved, so stay tuned and don’t be shy of volunteering!!

Moving on slightly and, the day after Karen’s speech – er, the Christmas Dinner – I called at the Club only to find Bev having a bit of a tidy behind the bar. Lucky me, I just wandered in as Bev had her maracas in her hand. (No, don’t!!)

Bev was looking for something to do with her maracas so, as you do, I offered to take them off her hands, which I thought was quite a reasonable offer. I said I could put them in my Maraca Drawer, which gained hoots of laughter from the Members’ Bar. (As if they’d been quiet up to now – you can picture the scene!)

Well, doesn’t everyone have a drawer for their Maracas?? What else do you do on a Saturday night?? I can’t see what was funny – I think it must be me….. probably linked to those Christmas Crackers……