The challenge about going to any kind of event where one is required to be attired in anything other than a smart suit and tie, is the amount of exposure where one has to travel with the Underwashed and Overscented and they are wont to stare and fail to understand the cut of one's jib.
I took my Particular friend to the Chap Olympics on Saturday.
The cut of the jib on this particular day involved presenting one's self in one's colonial attire. I drew upon my deep DNA memory of the steamy plantations of the Cameron Highlands, the sweat soaked gin dives of Wanchai and the dusty front lines of Kipling's Great Game. In other words, khaki shorts, pith helmet, Sam Browne belt and brogues.
My Particular Friend's attire said Twenties Tennis party with associated freshly steamed Panama.
And such that it was we found ourselves strolling (I said Marching - but apparently that's crass) through the Bloomsbury district of Londinium towards the site of the Chap Olympics this year.
Bedford Square Gardens on a July afternoon. Sun dappled lawns. Cool, white pavilions of calm to entertain the troops and a brass band to provide a musical accompaniment to an afternoon's athleticism.
We passed through the formalities at the gate and presented ourselves to the popsies handing out Gin vouchers. We duly identified ourselves as competitors and had a christian handful of free G+T tickets thrust into our eager mits.
We beheld the scene momentarily and then reviewed our appearance. Until now, we had felt confident we were quirky and unusual enough.
The scene before our eyes was somewhat remarkable.
Ladies in forties dresses, veils and seamed stockings.
Gentlemen dressed as 18th century parsons, explorers and Victorian hunters.
Fortitude was clearly going to be required and I fled to the refreshment tent.
I handed over the Gin voucher to the young lad behind the bar and demanded Military Strength sustenance.
He promptly half filled two high ball glass with Gin, then with ice and topped up the last inch with tonic and cucumber.
Military strength indeed.
I returned to find My Particular friend perusing the programme with a slight furrow in her brow, and a flare to her nostrils. She was concerned.
I read her thoughts quickly and summised we needed to re plan our attendance. No plan, after all survives contact with the enemy.
'I say, Ms A, let's view this as a recce?' Said I adjusting the Sam Browne belt and adopting a slightly rakish angle to the pith helmet.
She pondered this for a moment, while a relieved smile played across her lips.
'Splendid Idea Mr. D. Let's check out the situation, enjoy what appears to be unlimited Gin, and plot our return next year.'
'Quite, my dear.'
'We can review the crowd and think of a unique theme....'
We discussed many thoughts that day. As they are likely to be employed on various chappist activities, I am not at liberty to discuss the nature of the schemes we hatched.
Consequently, we thus devoted the rest of the day to enjoying the Gin to the full force of the liberal behaviour of the staff - I was pouring my own by the end of the afternoon - and some serious people watching.
The events were hilarious, the people delightful and the atmosphere terrific. After all - in the words of Max Boyce - 'We Were There'.
We finally took the public train home and reviewed the experience. It was a delight and it was certainly worth blogging about.
This was our first official engagement, and I rather think it was a hit. It doesn't count as a cultural exchange, as you may recall it was rather her idea.