THIS IS VERY LONG AND A FEW YEARS OLD.
As requested by Terry Ward. Think I must’ve been reading Wodehouse when I wrote this
Interesting one this! On the 18th of September my chum Terry and I attended ‘Man School’ an event at the Great John St ‘Boutique Hotel’ sponsored by Franks Hot Sauce (more of which later). The premise was to teach young awkward chaps how to be a gent and basically impress a lady.
Now, this event offered the aspiring gent tips on; telling jokes to women, choosing wine, sartorial elegance and taste, remembering names and facts, and how to distinguish yourself on the parquet of your favourite nightclub. Oh yes… all accompanied by free booze and chicken wings.
As you can imagine a couple of urbane men-of-the-world types such as Terry and myself shouldn’t need such coaching, and indeed we don’t. We are, however, not shy about taking full advantage of free beer and chicken wings. Our entire and sole reason for attending.
After a quick livener in Cask on Liverpool Road we we promptly got ourselves to the said ‘boutique hotel’ a mite earlier than the allotted time in order to weigh the place up and partake of another libation just to loosen things up a little more.
We were met at reception by a charming filly who said that the manschoolers weren’t quite ready and directed us to the bar. NO REAL ALE! So, the sullen young lady behind the counter said that they had only bottles. To which I requested a rundown of the beers on offer. She reeled off about four of the usual suspects and then said that they stocked Estrella and pilsner. I asked her which pilsner, to which she looked at me like I’d made some kind of improper suggestion and fetched a bottle from the fridge. It was Urquel, a beer that I’m familiar with and quite like though I’m not a lager fan.
‘Would you like a glass?’ she said. It crossed my mind to say ‘of course, and at £4.50 a pop I’d like it poured too !’ I didn’t however because as we all know, us reserved British types don’t like fuss (at least not when we’re sober anyway). As we were leaving the bar I pointed out to Terry that it was unfortunate that there wasn’t a charm school in the offing that evening too, making sure that our sparkling server was within earshot.
We were finally called to ‘manschool’ and up in the lift we went, to the top floor of the establishment to be greeted by a charming girl with a tray of beer. Ah yes indeed… it was true! (I had approached this venture with a certain amount of scepicism.) So I selected a Sam Adams, Terry had Corona.
Whilst Terry and I were standing around chatting and making free with the beer tray, a gent in suit started to converse with us and told us that he was Sun journalist. He asked our ages, occupations and reasons for being there, of which we know there were two. Beer and chicken wings.
To my surprise he started to write all of this in his notebook. I had visions of articles about middle aged freeloaders attending events that they strictly had no business being at. Which, as it happens was not a million miles from the truth. I don’t read the Sun so I never found out if we afforded comment.
First up for the evening was the ‘telling jokes or imparting humourous anecdotes’ section. This was introduced by a diffident young chap whose attempts to do just that were of a substandard nature. I was convinced he was the comedian, thinking that we’d been duped! But he introduced another young fella with a rather handsome quiff who wasn’t half bad at his chosen profession.
Turns out that when imparting repartee to a female one should avoid politics, religion, jokes about family members and of an intrusively personal nature. Risqué, we were told is, perfectly acceptable, especially if the lad is trying to ‘test the water’, so to speak, to see if there might be the chance of copping a right portion… I mean… possibly engaging in a romantic interlude later in the evening. Lewd and obscene material is considered beyond the pale and completely unacceptable.
Next was wine tasting. This was taken by a bloke who really knew his stuff. He had been sommelier at Claridges and was well versed in the art of selecting a good enough bottle of hooch to raise your stock in the eyes of a lady, AND without finding yourself somewhat light at the end of the evening. He sent round thimble fulls of really good wines (2 reds, 2 whites) that weren’t too expensive but were all delicious. Terry and myself helped ourselves to two each from each tray as it was proffered. I liked the Barolo which wasn’t a Barolo and didn’t have the same price tag. Terry voiced his opinions to the man which were all relevant and well received by our sommelier. A nice chap he was too.
Having down charged several beers and quite a number of plonk thimbles we were then treated to ‘remembering names, facts, and how to locate lost objects’. Ironic really as I can’t for the life of me remember his name, or any of the tips he imparted. Oh, apart from one; NEVER forget a woman’s name, or worse, call her by a different moniker!
As to finding items that one has temporarily mislaid. I have one, and only one, piece of advice; ask your spouse/lady-friend. She’s sure to find it and will hand it to you with a withering look equal to your own ineptitude. Wilde once said and I quote; I despise women, they always know where things are’.
Right-ho! feeding time. We were all presented with small tin bucket of fries and chicken wings smothered in Franks Hot Sauce. The fries were actually quite good, crispy with just a smattering of salt. The chicken wings left something to be desired. In my opinion Frank needs to have a closer look at his recipe. The wings were well cooked but the sauce tasted of vinegar and chilli… nothing else. This did not stop me from eating two buckets of each and getting hot sauce all over my boat.
Whilst tucking into aforementioned chow, we discovered that all the wine thimbles had been left on the bar! Imagine that! We promptly summoned a pretty waitress and asked her to acquire a couple wine glasses into which we decanted several of the thimbles… several times.
How to dress; this was presented by chap with a splendid beard and some rather skinny trousers who was a Saville Row tailor. He actually looked a little like a gypsy or some other such ruffian, but that’s by the by.
He offered some useful advice on jacket lengths and the like, but then went on to tell us the difference between off the peg, ready to wear and bespoke tailoring. Of course bespoke is the best and he strongly advised us that that was by far the best option, but came with a £3,000.00 price tag. Well he would wouldn’t he.
On hearing this guff, Terry began to harangue the chap in a ‘bliddy southerners! Comin’ up here quoting clobber at £3,000, has tha tekken leave of tha senses!*’ sort of vein. To which all our further questions were scrupulously ignored and we were clearly branded as chippy malcontents. Anyway, the upshot is that Messrs. Marks & Spencer offer a good off the peg solution to your sartorial wants.
Dancing… hmmmm. I have been known to, shall we say, ‘throw a few shapes’ as friends and family will attest. And I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that I’m not half bad. We were told that if you are pretty deft at ‘cutting the rug’ it can indicate to a woman that you’re not too shabby at the boudoir boogie too.
At this juncture Terry and I had had a fair old suck on the sauce bottle and just gyrated on the spot whilst the instructor coached the boys in a few moves which were drunkenly followed. I even asked the nice waitress, who supplied us with the wine glasses, to dance, but she politely declined.
Well that was the end of the evening and time for the final liberty.
Each bloke who had attended was offered a goody bag. The goody bag to ‘manscholar’ ratio was quite high so Terry and I helped ourselves to two each. All in all a pretty successful night out, which I think goes quite some way to confirming that… ‘One can take the man from the bog….etc’.
Oh… and nobody was sick.
* Terry isn’t from Yorkshire. I just did that for Northern effect and i’m not a Victorian.