“Jenny, we need a loud, brash, opinionated speaker for the charity do on Saturday, you’ll do it, won’t you?” The Chairman stated.
And I was hooked, lined and sunk into my worst nightmare, public speaking. It’s not the standing up and speaking that gets me, lord knows I can do that without any prompting nor hesitation. It’s the people, they can be, so, negative. It’s like they all have this personal invisible security field around them, that screams, “DON’T TOUCH ME!”
And Saturday night was no exception. Oh joy, a hotel ball room full of do gooders who have never got their hands dirty in their whole life, who judge themselves and each other on these occasions by just how generous they are to the charity they support. Truth is, I’ve seen the figures and each and every one of them lies about the amount they contribute.
I decided on smart but casual with an air of sophistication for the outfit, in other words, black slacks and a white top with a touch of embroiders lace on the shoulders, just in case anyone mistook me for a waitress. As I entered the hall, I didn’t produce a ticket, I didn’t have one, didn’t need one, I was the guest of honour, what did I need a ticket for.
“And who are you?” she was one of the benevolent donors to our charity, so I had to be nice to her. Didn’t I? Now I’d obviously been let in at some point, passed the two monkeys on the front door, past the hostess who was meeting and greeting and through a couple of the not so well-known celebrities that get hired for press reasons at these events. I think one played a child on one of those East Street things, although she was now in her thirties. The other one was a man in a flamboyant pink suit who insisted on calling everyone darling. I didn’t have a clue who they were and just smiled politely.
“I’m sorry I didn’t catch that.”
That’s because I didn’t throw it missus, I wanted to say out loud, but I restrained myself. I had been given strict instructions not to upset anyone this evening. But I just couldn’t resist, after all no one had said I couldn’t have a bit of fun.
“I’m the cleaner. You see you lot at these ‘ere posh noshes can be a nightmare to clean up after, so our boss, he gives us a ticket now and again to these do’s so that we can see who we have to clear up after.”
She looked straight at me, the horror creeping into her eyes.
“You see, we have to clean up when one of you rich bitches, not you of course, I mean, you don’t look the type.”
I was getting to her.
“When one of you is sick in the lav, and there is always one, sometimes two. You can tell if there is more than one, cause of the colour see, especially if they’ve been drinking the cocktails, talking of which, where’s the bar, I wanna try one of them Orgasm things.”
I laughed my best filthy laugh and moved off.
Her chin was resting nicely on her chest and her eyes were rolling as her jaw stuck open. Did I tell her that there was a cure for lock jaw, nar, thought I’d leave that little gem. I’d had my fun, in my best cockney accent. I love Londoners they are so colourful and using their accent, badly or well can conjure so many beautiful pictures in the mind of a posh tot, when you want to upset them.
As she moved off I could see the contempt in every step she took, she was definitely on her way to make a complaint to someone. She deserved it, how dare she challenge me and look down on me at the same time. Who am I, only the guest of bloody honour, mate, that’s who.
Each of these events has a pecking order and you can tell where you are within the flock by where you are seated in relation to the main guests. Right now, I would have been happy at the back of the hall, amongst the almost had been’s and club secretaries who had been invited to show good will. I’m more of a watcher you see than a participant. I like to spy on people. Shoes are always a good give away as to where a person stands. No that’s not a pun, I mean it is, but it wasn’t meant to be. I wear flats and boots whenever possible, but there are those that can master the high heels and those that can’t. And I’m just talking about the men. No honestly, I am. A few years back I got a bit disturbed when a friend of mine turned up for a vicar and tarts party and he had his own size nine, six-inch heel stilettos which he managed to not only walk in, but hit the dance floor in as well.
Our posh bird was lying you see. The dress said, I’ve got money, but the George at Asda plastic, fake leather sparkly shoes said, not as much money as I would like you to think I’ve got. Sussed, sorted and sunk her in one glance. I made a bet with myself that she would have her shoes off her feet as soon as she sat down. Unfortunately, I was unable to see from where I was, nor was I afforded the luxury of a rear hall table. There would be no chatting up of young good-looking waiters, and no being able to swap hysterical observations and comments around what would be become the naughty table as soon as I arrived, I was the honoured guest.
More like the slaughterer to the lambs. I got that right, don’t try changing my words, no grammar Nazi’s please. There they were, the bums on seats, each one bleating. They laughed on que whether a joke was funny or not, even if they didn’t quite seem to understand it. They had to be seen to be one of the flock. They clapped like sea lions on command, and nodded in agreement with the speakers, any speaker, on any subject, the speaker tonight was me and I knew that not one of these people would listen to a word they were going to hear.
It was tempting to start my speech with “Good evening, as I came in tonight I was asked who I was, and continue with the mantra of being an equal opportunity organisation, that was impartial and without prejudice, but I thought better of it and just smiled in Posh’s directing.
My job that night was to get those with money belts to loosen them a tad and let a few pennies drop in our direction, it wasn’t as if I was asking them to drop their trousers, bend over nicely and…. (really must stop getting distracted whilst writing these things. It’s just that I feel there is always an ulterior motive when the almost famous, nearly millionaires start getting charitable. Is that cynical? Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful, as many are, for their help and donations, but some of them always seem to be doing deals under the table whenever there is a charity event.)
I was presented as the official representative for my organisation. (Sh can’t tell you who they are), not the cleaner. I shot a glance in Posh’s direction yet again, as she bowed her head.
In shame, woman, in shame, I screamed inside my head. I felt good.
Speech over, I felt as though I had reached maybe 15%, a generous estimation, of my audience, but I was not there to answer specific questions and as soon as I was thanked by our hostess I left the stage and took my seat for the meal.
It turned out to be a good night. I got a chance to feel thirty again, he was bloody gorgeous. The head of the IT department at a sister charity. I mean nobody takes any notice when an elderly lady puts her hand gently on top of a young man’s as she expresses her admiration and concern for him. (Mark wasn’t there)
The food was OK but uninspiring. Prawn Cocktail, soggy Beef Wellington and Trifle.
As they served the coffee I looked around for the tea to come out of the swinging doors that obviously led into the kitchen. Nope couldn’t see any pots anywhere so I just asked.
“Could I have tea?”
Did I swear, did I blaspheme, did I mention something that was so horrendous that the whole World was going to rebel against me? Was it so difficult for a 5 star hotel to come up with one pot of tea?
“Sorry, I asked if I could have a cup of tea,” I repeated.
You could feel the ripple like a Mexican Wave at a Rugby match travel outwards through the diners.
“I’ll just go and sort you a pot out Madame.” The young waitress said with a rather, I’m not too sure what to do, kind of smile.
As she passed the other tables to get to the swinging doors she was stopped by at least four other tables, all asking for tea. Let the revolution begin. This is England. We drink Tea. I said quietly to myself.
We all got tea, eventually. If I was rating this place on Trip adviser, I would have to give it 3 Stars, honestly no tea served after dinner. I began to look around and noticed how old the decor was, it did indeed pay homage to the Victorian era. My mind wandered and I began to see all the ladies in the room in crinoline and lace and the gentlemen in dinner jackets and bow ties. I was quite expecting the women to be ushered off into a separate room, whilst brandy and cigars were handed out to the men. Instead there was a clattering coming from the stage, where I had been giving my speech an hour ago. A disco was hurriedly being put together, with a lot of fluffing and swearing and weak apologies.
Wow, what great start to the night treated to the dulcet tones of “Neil Sedaka, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen.” The hostess, ran frantically to the stage and beckoned the DJ down to her level. The exchange was quick and the laughter as clear on the DJ’s face as the annoyance of the hostess. Wrong party!
The lights were lowered, the smokers disappeared and the drinkers found the bars in the other rooms. The tables graduated back towards the walls with perfect efficiency and the party started in earnest. What I meant was everybody sat around looking awkward, wandering what to do next.
Abba began the call to the dance floor. Who doesn’t like a bit of Waterloo? After all we had already had Wellington that evening. Honest I couldn’t make it up, even if I tried. Just as I couldn’t sit and listen to the Dancing Queen as she struck up her notes, Abba might not have been young and sweet but the IT guy was and I had him on the dance floor, Go Granny. I’m a Diva what can I say, you play it I’ll show you how to do the perfect two step shuffle to fit the beat. I can granddad stomp to anything and tonight I was on a roll. UB40 and then on to Motown, I was on heat. Now my dancing is a bit, erratic, a bit like my writing, I jump about a lot and never quite hit the right notes. I’m as graceful as a hippo in a skating rink, it ain’t no delicate ballet that’s for sure. But hell do I like to strut my stuff.
I found myself out on the dance floor on my own with this, I don’t give a hoot attitude whilst trying to encourage others to get up and boogie. I asked the DJ to stay downtown with Motown, and he filled in perfectly with the rhythms that get your souls singing. And there she sat, Posh. Her long-suffering husband was strumming away with his fingers, and itching to dance, as she sat obviously disgusted with the whole spectacle. Did I avoid her, steer clear, do as I had been advised and stay out of trouble? Well…….
“Oh no not I, I will annoy, for as long as I know how to dance, I know I will annoy. I’ve got all the night to live, I’ve got all my soul to give, I will annoy, I will annoy, hey, hey, ooo, oo, oooo, oo oo….”
I jiggled to the beat and wriggled my way to their table. This was it, the moment of my triumph. “I will survive, hey hey..” I sang out loud.
I looked deep within his eyes with the sexiest look I could muster, which could have been mistaken for Wednesday Adam’s happy look. I lent down and took her hands whilst still fixing my eyes on him, this was going to be too easy. The shock and horror of the cleaner touching her hands must have reminder her that I had said I had cleaned up sick from the women’s toilets. You could see the “unclean, unclean,” being screamed inside her head.
I continued looking deep into her husband’s very soul, which didn’t take much doing, I can tell you, I wouldn’t need a real estate agent to show me around that property. Yanking her to her feet, I beckoned him to stand, spun her around and planted her into his arms in one swift move, laughed maniacally and moved off. I glanced at him with a look of promised unbridled passion and he pulled her to him in a frenzy. (Who says that Fifty Shades of Grey would be hard to follow, stick around.) Like an eager puppy he began to boogie. She screamed and he let go, she fell backwards into the chair grasping desperately for her unclad feet.
“Yes,” I cried, not so silently. I won my own bet, no shoes.
I left shrugging my shoulders as he tried to apologise to her and she screamed at him, but alas her screams were drowned out by the start-up of “Let’s get it on”
The chairman of our organisation grabbed me and pulled me to one side. I hadn’t realised he was there but I was waiting for the lecture on how to behave in public.
“Dance?” He asked.
We sauntered off.
“You did alright tonight,” he smiled at me, “Not bad for the cleaner.”
The music changed again and we led the sheep in the dance.