6 December 2011

BCSA Annual Dinner 2011

The British Czech and Slovak Association's Annual Dinner is one of the two social highlights in its calendar. The other is the Summer Garden Party.

Bad planning on my part has meant that I have missed two out of the last three but this year I was organised enough to get the date in my diary early and to keep it free from encroaching concerts, theatre trips and other nefarious nights out.

The format of the Annual Dinner is simple and effective.

Around 150 people with an interest in things Czech/Slovak (not all of whom are BCSA members) meet at the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel at 7pm for a drinks reception.

We are then ushered in to the dining room where around twenty tables are laid out formally.

Seating is prearranged so it helps to know the organiser. There we have a set three-course meal with wine.

There is an after dinner speaker, as you would expect.

Usually it is one of the four ambassadors but this year, for reasons that I do not quite understand, we had Greg Hands MP for Hammersmith and Fulham who did something Czechoslovakish when at university but who has had no significant contact in the region since then.

It was a functional rather than a stirring speech but it was generally well-received. Not by me obviously as he is a Tory MP. And unbelievably smug too.

The one thing I will say in Greg's favour (just to show how fair, balanced and reasonable I am at all times) is that when I tweeted that I was on the table next to the "ultra-obnoxious Greg Hands" he retweeted the comment to his followers. Perhaps he thought it was a joke.

We also had the annual award for the BCSA's writing competition, a raffle and some time to mingle. And suddenly it was well past 11pm and time to head home happy.

The Annual Dinner is very much a British part of the BCSA and the traditional format is appreciated by everybody, including me.

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