FEBRUARY - CLOSE UP MAGIC DINNER
The Ringlestone Arms - Magician Micheal McIntyre
This meeting was organised by Brian at his newly re-opened local, the famous Ringlestone Arms. Now run by Dalton and Paulo who opened specially for us.
The fact that the pub was private that night allowed the organiser to present the magician as something else altogether - a male stripper instructor. Cue panic in many faces (am I wearing clean pants? Have I shaved my pubes? How exactly am I going to hide my tiny penis???). Mike latched immediately onto the one man who does not care about such trivia - he is Wayne! Wayne was quickly persuaded to strip down to the 'just about to drop his keks' stage, when to all our relief, Mike explained that it was a gag and he was actually an amazing close-up table magician.
He then did an hour to an audience whose jaws were literally dropping. He was amazing. Shame I can't show you anything except a picture of all of us at dinner.
I do have a video of him performing a trick on my hand and at the same time deftly removing my wristwatch and pocketing it. Brilliantly done with a heavy leather strap which I struggle with.
MARCH - PUB DINNER
The Harrow - Stockbury
This meeting was organised by Chris at his newly re-opened local, the less famous Harrow Inn at Stockbury. Now run by a new team who welcomed us and really looked after us..
The promised entertainment of 'Welly Throwing' did not take place - too dark.
The only entertainment was Phil C refusing to contribute his £20 into the whip to help pay for what was without any doubt a three course dinner with wine. Ron has added Phil's debt to the GASS accounts and the matter will have to be discussed yet again at some time in the future.
Phil's reasoning was twofold - First this is a PUB dinner and he saw no reason to pay extra (despite it being three courses and wine). Second, and I quote, "I drink less wine that the others".
I will leave it to members to decide on the validity of the two reasons. Phil was quite right as it turned out. The bill was £57.80 each. I should have asked everyone for £17.80, not £20.
Perfect excuse for not paying £20. Aside from these two facts.
First being we all agreed by a majority vote at the AGM (which in itself was a repeat of previous votes) to contribute an extra £20 to the fund whenever it looked like the meeting was going to cost a bit more than average, normally three courses and over or expensive entertainment. Phil seems to think that Graham, Brian and Ron (who tend to have to do the deciding and collecting) have 20:20 foresight in that they should know exactly how much a meeting is going to come too. It is not an exact science. After all the last time Phil complained about popping £20 in the fund was at the Argentinian a few months back. And I quote him "this won't come to much over £40" - it came to £85 a head.
Second reason being we had a £1,100 overspend last year and we have to make it back somehow. It was agreed that a simple £20 on most middling to upper cost meetings does that easily.
On the bright side COVID-19 has done the same with knobs on! We are all paying in and the fund benefits.
From a meeting organisors point of view I would add that it is depressing and upsetting to have to end up in pointless discussions with any member who moans about a sum as paltry as £20. It is manifestly unfair if one or two people attend and simply don't cough up their £20 because they disagree with the possible meeting cost estimate. If they object - don't put me in an impossible position and ruin my evening - Make your point openly - stand up there and then and get a vote from all the guys present who have paid, and abide by the vote that follows. I'd bet on it being - pay up.
At least that way it takes the pressure off me, Graham, Ron or Keith who are tasked with keeping things fair but get all the flack. Get it out in the open please.