Tonight was the night of the 215th Venison Dinner, an event that has been going for a very, very long time. It was our second in about 15 years and we were really looking forward to it.
In order to have an emergency someone to talk to, we asked Sarah and Nick if they’d like to come with us and they agreed though Nick had to get changed at the castle because he was coming straight from work.
The three of us waited while he changed in the men’s. Having been presented to the mayor by the town crier, we had a welcome glass of prosecco and I ordered the wine for dinner (unlike last time when I didn’t bring any money and felt really stupid).
Very soon, Nick joined us. While he managed everything else, he needed a little bit of help with his bow tie.
Completely adorned, we then all went inside to take our places at table 10 where we joined three other couples. I found myself wedged between two Catholics. At first I thought Henriette was Jewish but she soon straightened me out. This started a conversation between her and Maureen on my other side about their school days at the Convent of the Sucky Heart…or something similar.
Maureen asked me what flavour of stupidity I followed and was a bit abashed when I said I was an Atheist. Her husband, sensing this was probably a topic best left for other times, suggested that he and his wife could rest happily knowing they could wave at me from the ‘good’ side of St Peter’s gate. This had us laughing and we changed the subject and discussed dogs.
On the other side of the round table, over with Mirinda, Sarah and Nick, the talk was about Brexit – almost as inflammatory as religion – with the particularly rabid Mary who wanted England to return to the glory days of…well, no-one can ever answer this question. I guess she meant the time of the Empire when the native poor said nothing and foreigners were servants.
I missed all of that (possibly a good thing) because I was having a very entertaining time with the two ladies either side of me.
But all chatter ceased as the bagpipes started up with a jolly unhealthy wheeze and the chef entered immediately behind the piper, grasping a great slab of venison to present to the mayor for the ritual cutting. The mayor did his stuff and pronounced the meat delicious to our rapturous applause…and the meat went back to the kitchen once more to the bagpipe accompaniment.
Then we ate…then the speeches began.
We sat through the one by the brewery owner and the one by the Bishop of Dorking before having to quickly shuffle away during the applause so Sarah and Nick didn’t miss their train home.
At the station we all laughed at the fun we’d had and swapped horrendous stories about small town bigotry and xenophobia. I didn’t have a lot to add except to say that I was glad I was sat at the Catholic end of the round table.