During this period, my wife Janet and I would attend the Independent Television News Annual Dinner. Well, our company was part owned by them, so we went along taking with us some of our outside documentary team and their wives.
It was always a grand affair sometime at The Savoy and other times at The Dorchester. It was a case of black tie for the men with the ladies in full evening dress. On one occasion, we shared a table with some ITN technicians. Already on the table upon our arrival were two bottles of Champagne by way of an aperitif.
There was a top table at which were assembled the Directors of ITN. These gentlemen were also, by definition, directors of the ITV group of companies that provided the daily television programmes around the country.
The Chairman stood up to give a speech. There were moans all around. The speeches, if any, were meant to be a simple greeting to the guests, paying guests , and seasonal greetings. A minute would do nicely.
The Chairman went on and, he went on, and, he went on. Not realising we were in for the long haul, one of the ITN diners at our table started to dislodge the gold foil on one of our bottles of champagne. He gave the cork a little twist. He was hoping to open the bottle the moment the speech ended. The speech went on, we were now into the seventh of eighth minute. It was not as though the speech was entertaining. It was dreary as if prepared for the Annual General Meeting.
The cork in the bottle started to rise and our bottle opener picked up his serviette and draped it over the bottle, holding down the edges of the serviette in order to prevent the cork making any further progress.
This manoeuvre made no difference, the cork was relentlessly moving upwards. By now, everyone on our table was eyeing the progress of the cork.
The speech went on. All at once, the serviette was removed from the bottle, the cork flew out, hit the ceiling and came back to the table with a crack. The whole room burst into laughter and The Chairman sat down.
It was a happy opening to a fine night with excellent food and wine as well as entertainment by professional artists.
Next chapter: Chapter 82: Vive la différence