Tuesday, 9 March 2010

And the Winner Is...

“C’mon. Hurry up!” For once I was having my own back. It made a nice change from Hubby’s exasperated, “For God’s sake Alice, we are going to be late. Get your slap on and let’s go”, to turn the tables and inform him, in no uncertain terms that we better get a move on or else.
It was a last moment invitation, from a farming friend of mine. I’ll flatter myself by hoping that we were cherished guests and not last minute reserves after the original guests pulled out. Not that I mind if we were. I’m always up for a diverting night out and surely it doesn’t get more diverting than the Western Morning News farming awards.
We’d already had a busy day. Hubby had made the most of a rare weekday off and we went to Exeter for lunch. A bit of a trek from South East Cornwall but what the hell, especially when Hubby suggested Carluccio’s. Honestly we thought we were the bees knees sharing a big plate of cold meats and cheeses, a glass of chilled Prosecco delicately sparkling in our hands. My sophisticated London friend thought it hysterical, “But Carluccio’s is a chain!” As though a chain of restaurants were a dirty word.
“I pop in there regularly during my lunch break and grab a filled foccacia and there you are, my provincial little friend, driving a ninety mile round trip and thinking it the height of sophistication”.
“Well, not exactly the height”, I said petulantly, “but it does make a change from the smattering of pubs on the Rame peninsula you know. Besides, where else can I indulge in an antipasti Massimo?”
“Hmm, dunno, but there must be a number of places where you can indulge in a massive anti-pasty surely?” She thought her little Cornish play on words quite hysterical and it took her a while to compose herself and even then it was only to tease me further,
“Oh and by the way, just in case you’d been to Bath and thought you’d come across a little gem. Jamie’s Italian is not Mr Oliver’s one and only. It’s also part of a chain. Not just in Bath but Brighton, Cardiff and whilst we’re talking alphabetically, Canary Wharf”. I thanked her for her information but was able to say that yes, I had been to Bath and had spotted Jamie’s latest venture but decided to go to Wagamama’s instead. By now she was crying.
“Wagamamas? You have to be kidding? Alice, you are living in the dark ages. Only tourists and students go there! Really, you need to get out more”.
Only tourists and students indeed? Bloody well off students then if they think that a bowl of broth and noodles is a bargain at £9.70. I wasn’t up to the ribbing, so thought it best not to let on that a family favourite, and only on very special occasions, is Pizza Express.
That was a future conversation. At this particular juncture Hubby and I were very happy feeding each other mouthfuls of delicious delicatessen things but, all good food must come to an end and whilst Hubby went to pay the bill, I struggled into my coat. A very suave, elderly gentleman came to my aid. Helping me with my sleeve, he handed me my bag and struck up conversation. When Hubby returned, the gentleman was holding my hand and as I said goodbye, he kissed it with a very theatrical, “Farewell you spectacular woman”.
“Jeeze. How many Proseccos had he had?” laughed Hubby as we walked back to the car.
I bristled, “Why did he have to be sloshed? Couldn’t you for a moment imagine that some men might actually find me ever-so-slightly, spectacular?” From the expression on Hubby’s face, evidently not.
It was therefore, with no further ado, that I was able to say, 30 minutes before my farming friends picked us up, that we were going out that night and that he needed to be in black tie, pronto. I must confess that it was a bit of a rush. We didn’t get back from Exeter until four, so picking the kids up from after-school club and then feeding all four of them, walking the dog and straightening my hair was a bit of a quick turnaround but with only minutes to spare I was clean and sparkly and amused to see Hubby sweating and swearing at his bow tie.
An hour later and we were mingling with the great and good of the county’s farmers. It made a nice change to talk sheep instead of ships. Having slammed more than enough lamb in my time I certainly have more of an opinion on them than I do NATOs fleet. After enjoying trays and trays of the most excellent and locally sourced hors d’oeuvres and sinking several glasses of champagne, we took our seats.
Having never been to farming awards show before, none of us had any idea of what might happen next and, whilst I didn’t share the paparazzis’ flashbulbs with Helen Mirren nor knock one back with Colin Firth it was nevertheless a most entertaining evening. A kind of bovine BAFTAs. Where at the Royal Opera House the audience get shown clips of the latest movies, at the Royal Cornwall Pavilion we were shown slides of cows and daffodil fields and sexy Massy Fergusons.
The food was delicious, the speeches amusing, the wine, copious. I leant over and asked my friend if he was nervous regarding which expression to adopt when the awards were presented.
“I’ve seen enough Oscar ceremonies”, I hissed, “And watched enough reactions. If you don’t win, just clap and smile through gritted teeth; clap and smile”. My worries were groundless however because, when the envelope was opened “and the winner is...” announced, they called out my friend’s name. He never once paid tribute to his mother though nor his producer or even his agent...


DL said...

Good for you! S and I would be thrilled with Carluccio's as well. You don't need to be at the absolute pinnacle to have a great time. And there's less far to fall.

Having said that, some lovely friends are taking us to dinner and dancing at the Ritz next weekend: once in a lifetime! Can't wait.

Best wishes, as ever.

Alice Band said...

The Ritz??? Wow-wow-wee beats any wardroom mess eh?!! Have a swell ans swank time.

Anonymous said...

Your restaurant list is the same as ours - except we 'treat' ourselves to either Carluccio's or Wagamamma's in the nearest large shopping mall, on very special occasions we try a Yo shushi! - we are obviously outside of the fine dining loop too. Mind you I do draw the line at a Harvester!