16 November 2006

Pointless waste of an evening

I don't know why I bothered going out last night. I was tired and grouchy after slaving over the keyboard all day, then there was a mad rush to get glammed up and call a cab. The cabbie decided to take the scenic route, so there was a dispute over the fare (which I won). It was raining and I got drenched in the dash from cab to door. Inside, I was offered a glass of Buck's Fizz, which was more buck than fizz, given that there was definitely barely more than a teaspoon of champagne in the flute. Not a good start.

I headed upstairs. I felt overdressed - the dress code had said smart so I'd scrubbed up. I don't know why I bothered, given that most of the others there were looking distinctly casual. There were a lot of waiters hovering, but none with refills. I checked the seating plan to locate my table then chatted a while to a couple of women - one of whom is also a writer and just starting as a freelance.

We were asked to take our seats for dinner so I headed off to my table only to discover I had no place. I checked all the name cards twice. Nope, definitely not on my table. I went back across the room to check the board again. I was definitely supposed to be at that table. So I went and checked a third time. The table was now full and I definitely did not have an allocated place. I spent 10 minutes locating one of the organisers to ask where the hell I was supposed to be sitting, and was then told that I was on a different table because the seating plan had been changed to "improve the networking". Great, thanks for letting me know. If you're going to change the seating plan, at least put the correct one on display...

Things went from bad to worse. The other occupants at my table were mostly in groups together, so they spent the evening talking only to each other. So much for networking. The chairs were hideously uncomfortable, so my back started aching before long and as much as I shifted around I just could not sit without being in pain. Everything was running late. There were some very dull speeches while we waited for food to arrive (including one in which the speaker claimed that everyone in the room must know Ms X, who is apparently a local mover and shaker but I'd never even heard of her). The first course arrived 50 minutes late and we were offered only one meagre glass of wine the entire evening. We were supposed to buy more drinks at the overpriced bar, but no one had said this - you were left to work it out for yourself. More speeches, more lengthy waits for food...

The evening was supposed to finish at 10.30pm, but at that point we'd only just had dessert. I'd been there 4 hours and there were still more speeches to come. I'd had enough.

I nipped downstairs for a smoke, rang for a cab and went home. I doubt anyone missed me. My beloved P was waiting for me when I got back. As always, he lifted my mood and after a brandy each and a chat, I felt a lot happier. That's the last time I fork out hard-earned cash for a disappointing do.

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