Last night was the Annual Dinner of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation. An auspicious affair held at Dover Town Hall at which last season’s swimmers are celebrated with ceremony.
I was organising the raffle.
I should have known things weren’t going to go well. I was late (I’m always late) and once I’d laid out the prizes, I had to get hastily changed in the loo. As people started to arrive, I was lying face down on the floor in the cloakroom due to a wardrobe malfunction. My zip was stuck. A lovely lady tried to help. Two lovely ladies, in fact. And the young man who was taking the coats. But it wouldn’t budge.
Ok, I know it wasn’t The Oscars but in a way last night was the closest I’m ever going to get. I thought, I bet Brie Larson’s backless dress was meant to me backless. Mine wasn’t. It wouldn’t do up.
I then learnt very quickly that it’s not a good idea to try and rip raffle tickets and collect money with a Gin & Tonic in your hand. The floor got most of it. I pressed on. I sold raffle tickets throughout the starter. Carrot Soup. And the main. Chicken. Once I’d got rid of the drink, I actually wasn’t that bad at selling, I reckon I would have given Brie a run for her money on that.
But then came the draw.
I went up on stage and was given a mic. No one could hear me apparently, apart from the intermittent word. Generally this might be fine – no one hearing me is not such a loss – but when you’re picking winning tickets, it’s pretty crucial. Nor did it help that I hadn’t grasped the first rule of raffle-ticket-drawing-thumb which is that if you’ve been selling from different ticket books you have to say the colour as well the number. ‘157 beige.’ I shouted out when I’d been admonished for this mistake. ‘It’s white’ my co-raffle ticket organiser hissed. ‘Is it?’ I said into the mic. Everyone heard that.
And with nearly 30 prizes to call, this ignominy went on forever. Some said I was going too fast, others said I was going too slow. Either way the audience got restless and started to chat. If it had been The Oscars, Chris Rock would have been pushing me off the stage and the cut off music would have been playing really loud.
After the dinner most people went to the White Horse, the legendary hostelry where all Channel swimmers get to sign their names. Instead I headed to my hotel room to nurse my raffle wounds. Oh, and the massive bruise I got when I knocked my knee on the toilet roll dispenser when I was changing in the loo.
Yesterday was supposed to be a great night – a celebration of what I achieved last year – but sadly for me it wasn’t. But that’s ok, I’m used to wasn’t. Eleven rounds of IVF wasn’t and I’ve still survived. And today on Mother’s Day 2016, at least I can say that these things I know:
I can swim the English Channel.
But don’t ever ask me to draw a raffle.