Doing battle with daily dragons

Thursday, October 20, 2005

An Evening of Introductions

The act of shaking hands has always struck me as being rather odd. Some sources claim that it might have evolved from an Egyptian tradition of “passing on authority”, although the common consensus was that it was a gesture of suspicion: a way to check your opponent for a weapon. It’s strange that today we are still so hung up on the handshake as a method of introduction: a way to say, “Hello” or “Let’s do business.” Or possibly “Please allow me to pass on my impressive collection of contagious diseases.” Sometimes I think the Japanese have the right idea; a slight bow to say; “I acknowledge you but cannot help but notice you didn’t wash your hands when you came out of the men’s room.”

I spend rather a lot of times shaking hands yesterday. Through a complicated series of events ( most of which have to do with PPD) we all found ourselves at the AGM of the Royal Institute of Navigation, which seems to me to mostly consist of a) navigation b) drinking and c) eyebrows.

Among the people that I met were this guy…

And this guy.

To be fair, I didn’t actually MEET the first guy as I hadn’t circumnavigated the globe solo or climbed every mountain on the planet over 8,000 metres. But I got to see the Queen’s better half at close quarters which was mildly exciting, although the sniffer-dog search before he arrived was slightly more exciting. The Rock Star and I remarked at the fact that, although we have seemingly unlimited technology, the best way to find bombs is still a small, highly strung dog.

The Rock Star was just about widdling his pants with glee to meet the second guy. Not being a native, I couldn’t possibly comprehend the joy inherent in shaking hands with the amazing, shrinking Professor David Bellamy, who apparently had his own children’s nature television show back in the 80’s. He does indeed have a mighty beard, though, which was impressive indeed. The Rock Star and I have done a website for the Conservation Foundation, a charity that he co-founded. (Note: the link is NOT to the website I designed, but rather the one it's going to replace!)

And then there was drinking. Following the AGM, there was a reception in the main hall of the beautiful old building that the Royal Institute inhabits. (The Rock Star and I crept off to look at the map room where all of the great explorers like Cook, Shackleton and Livingstone sat, poring over charts and planning their voyages) A really rather good catering company was around every few minutes with top-ups for our wine glass and tasty tidbits.

Catering Gnome 1: Wine, madam?

Me: Thank you.

Catering Gnome 2: Sweet potato fratatta, madam?

Me: Thank you.

Catering Gnome 1: Wine madam?

Me: Um..Thank you.

Catering Gnome 4: Duck spring roll, madam?

Me: S’hanks.

Catering Gnome 1: Wine, madam?

Me: S’hank you. (Hic) S’cuse me.

Catering Gnome 5: Cocktail sausage?

Me: (hic) Are you my mother?

After that, there was little I could do but try to stand up straight and admire the impressive eyebrow collection the RIN boasted.

I’m not sure what it is about men and hair when they get older. While it tends to recede from the scalp, it seems to go into overdrive just about everywhere else. What possible use is abundant ear hair? Or nasal hair so thick it actually impedes breathing? I mean, evolutionarily speaking? What use is it? At any rate, since most of the RIN fellows are 50+, there were bound to be some real facial fly-impalers about. Both The Rock Star and PPD inherited the “family eyebrows” which, when left unchecked, can make a break for freedom. Moot says she’s thinking about shaving PPD while he’s asleep. Thankfully, I don’t have to take such drastic action as The Rock Star is all too aware of the consequences and is conscientious about eyebrow maintenance.

As the reception ended early, the whole clan piled into a cab and made a beeline for the Hard Rock Café, which is an excellent place to continue drinking and, should you so wish, eating. This turned out to be the site of a much stranger meeting.

I met this guy again.

Okay, again, saying that I MET him would be charitable. But I was completely gobsmacked to run into him again in the space of a month considering that I don’t live, work or hang out in London. Wearing the same Clockwork Orange homage outfit and everything. (I certainly wouldn’t have recognized him otherwise.) Fate moves in mysterious ways.

I briefly considered going in for a handshake, but I was fortunately distracted by a large alcoholic beverage.