Moulton Seas End's John Ward recalls an interesting company do...
I have related before about assorted company or the firm’s Christmas dinner events that I have attended but one was quite an eye-opener, or it was to us mere mortals involved.
I had worked for was a small family run concern with ‘old time values’, as it might be best described, in that whether it had a good or bad year productivity-wise, there was the annual Christmas dinner to look forward to.
One particular year marked a departure from the usual ‘place down the road’ to go to as this one was full of promise - a coach trip to London no less with a meal at a well known eatery (to the firm/family paying at least) once there plusa West End show afterwards.
Being a small firm we could take our ‘other halves’ as in wives husbands or partners whatever as owner Stanley took his wife obviously.
So allowing for a very few who didn’t want to go, we were just 35 in total and for those of a numerate mindset; this was one short of three dozen
We went home early that Friday lunchtime to get ‘all tiddled up’ for later as one dear soul put it, plus Frank in the dispatch dept was going to wear his new false teeth: ‘In case there wore gooing ta bee summat wuff gnawing into when we get thar’ was quite a comforting thought - file under TAS as in ‘Thinking Ahead Strategy’ perhaps.
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We all arrived at the agreed pickup time, boarded the coach as we then sped off to London.
Frank was having last minute doubts or fitting problems with his new choppers but he said he was carrying his normal, working teeth ‘Just int case, lad’ in a small plastic bag - great.
We arrived in London on time or as near to the schedule, disembarked straight into the said eatery, then meals were served - Frank held back as he was unsure as to which set of choppers he would deploy so opted for ‘summat shoft’ as he put it to ‘kick oft wiv’.
Once the meal was duly done and dusted - Frank used his new teeth but said he ‘enfoyed the foop’ (soup) wiv his noo teef in’ - plus we were further indulged with a glass of wine before our departure by coach to the, as yet still not named, West End show but ‘it’s a real good ‘un’ we were informed.
Back on the coach, boss Stanley stood up at the front and revealed all as we were going to see the very famous ‘Household Name’, television star etc. etc. in his very own spectacular live show, so sit back and we would be given our theatre tickets as we left the coach.
Mavis from the canteen, who was sitting behind us, suddenly appeared between the back headrests of our seats to ask: ‘Will he be really there, in person sort of thing, live on stage do you think?’ which made me wonder just how do people's minds work at times but we reassured her that if it’s his own live show, a very good chance of that happening.
So to recap: the driver had got us to London okay, dropped us off at the eatery okay, enjoyed a very good meal, picked us up and we were now on our way for the conclusion of the evening to see a West End show, plus bringing up the rear, Frank’s teeth were working as hoped for.
Just what could possibly go wrong?
We were soon to find out as we arrived at the theatre, disembarked again and once in we were shown to our seats as we sat there as the auditorium slowly filled up as a swift look around suggested it was possibly a ‘full house’.
Soon the main auditorium lights slowly dimmed as expected as then the brightly coloured lights opened up on the stage, the orchestra stared up as the curtains opened as about two dozen singers and dancers broke into song and filled the stage with colour.
Mavis, three seats down, said it was ‘better than the show at the local Working Men’s Club back home, even on a Sunday night’ but she wondered if like them, would they have a game or two of bingo here afterwards?
Many who thought Mave didn’t get out much had their suspicions confirmed.
Then the star of the show appeared, but within seconds of introducing himself then went into an assorted four letter tirade, that you could feel the numbness of some of his supposed ‘fans’ there who, while they adored him on the small screen as was the television size in those days, the reality was he was just plain coarse.
On the other side of me sat David, a London show goer of long standing, who leaned over and said he had heard ‘through the grapevine’ that although he was an ‘household name’ apparently loved by millions, sadly his live shows left not a lot to the imagination.
Thankfully the intermission couldn’t come quick enough, but afterwards the complete row behind us was missing as they had all left together, not to return.
We later learnt it was a group of nurses who had saved up all year as this was their Christmas ‘treat’ so we felt really sorry for them.
Sadly they were not the only ones as all around us were now empty seats galore where there were once full before the intermission.
There were the odd outbreaks of laughter but they were rare although the singers and dancers were thankfully lacking in smut that we sat through happily.
I won’t name the ‘star’ as he has now passed away so can’t defend himself - if it was possible - but then why would, or should, he as to him it was perfectly natural as it was the ‘toned down’ side that we saw on the telly plus brought the money in from those who ‘appreciate’ this sort of thing no doubt.
I must admit that this was the first show - so far - that on leaving there was no real jolly atmosphere among the patrons filing out, more like ‘I can’t believe the language he used..’ was the predominant topic.
Once on the coach and settled, Stanley stood up and apologised for the last portion of the evening and to be honest I felt sorry for him as he evidently didn’t know what to expect either.
Come the Monday morning, back to work.
No guesses as to the talking topic but word came back that Stanley was quite upset over it plus it was his wife’s idea as she thought the ‘star’ concerned was the best there was but no longer as it seems she left the theatre in tears.
This process still exists even today - a few minutes on the flat screen wonder as they come over as ‘clean as fresh snow’ and so based on that, an audience goes along in complete innocence to their ‘live’ show only to find out differently but in a lot of cases, too embarrassed to say otherwise afterwards.
The next year’s Christmas dinner was held on ‘local ground’ with bingo afterwards (oh dear) - spoilt we were but Mave was quite happy though.
So have a Merry Christmas or from Frank it’s a ‘Muwee Chrismuff’.