29 November 2013

BCSA Annual Dinner 2013

The British Czech and Slovak Association Annual Dinner was described on the booking form (which I wrote) as "the main event in the BCSA calendar". And I was right.

The format has remained the same for all the years that I have been going, and that is part of its success. There is no need to change a successful formula.

The event was held at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel. It always is but the hotel seems to change its name subtly every year.

The evening started with a drinks reception at 7pm with, as usual, beer kindly provided by Budweiser Budvar. There was wine too but I did not try that.

At 7:30 we were invited in to the dining room where the starters were already out ready for us. Ruzena does the seating plan and she normally puts me, and regular companion Richard, on a table with people who go to the monthly socials in the Czechoslovak House in West Hampstead.

I was seated between Dagmar and Zuzana and many delightful conversations followed; in one I advised Zuzana to live in Slovakia rather than Chicago or Vancouver - wise advise.


The table next to us had some Very Important People on it.

Chief of these was Sir Nicholas George Winton, MBE who organised the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War.

Sharing the table was (Baron) Alf Dubs who was Labour MP for Battersea from 1983 to 87. I took some time off work to campaign for him in 1992. I grabbed a few moments to tell him this and he had the kindness to remember me.

The meal went very well and the wine and conversations kept flowing. Our table did quite well in the raffle winning three of the minor prizes, mine was a bottle of Peach and White Tatratea.

The after dinner speech by Sian MacLeod, former HM Ambassador to the Czech Republic, was pitched just right and was well received. The more cynical people there, like myself, might have suggested that this reinforced our view that life in the diplomatic corps is one long jolly.

After the dinner some of us lingered to talk to people on other tables. These conversations were considerably oiled by sampling the complete range of Tatrateas and this has slightly impaired my recollection of them.

Every part of the evening worked very well and I had a thoroughly excellent time. I hope the people that I harangued all evening managed to enjoy some of it too.

I will, of course, be going to the BCSA Annual Dinner again next year. It is in my diary already.

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