It may have helped that I was able to get there very early, I arrived soon after 6:30pm which is half an hour before the official start, and so was able to sneak an extra pint of Pilsner Urquell into the evening. Richard was there just before me, we had been on the same tube apparently, and Ruzena arrived soon after so the evening had started to swing along nicely before the people who paid attention to the published start time arrived.
A lot of the evening was as it always is and so I am able to present the now customary picture of my Smazeny Syr (cheese fried in breadcrumbs). I have posted so many pictures of this that I deliberately went a bit manic on the Instagram filters to get a different look. It tasted grand, as always, and several of the people there followed my lead.
I was slightly more organised this time than usual and took just a few notes on my phone during the evening to remind myself of some of the conversations that we had as these are the real point of the socials. This time remembering them was easier than usual as I had two very good conversations, with the same woman.
When I learned that Denisa came from Zilina in Slovakia I moved across to speak to her. One of my au pairs from twenty years ago, Iveta, came from Zilna and I had visited her there a couple of times and knew the town and the surrounding area reasonable well. It transpired that Denisa used to live just a few hundred metres from Iveta. I told Denisa of another coincidence that I had had some years ago when at a friend's party I spoke to their Slovak au pairs only to discover that they also came from Zilna and they knew Iveta as she had taught them English.
Then the small world got even smaller. Denisa said that she used to live and work in Kingston upon Thames, where I live. She had worked for the mayor's office and through my political and educational activities at the time I knew the people she worked for, one was in the Labour Party with me and another was a governor at the same school as me.
There were other conversations with other people and the topics covered included petro-chemical engineering, the different ways that local authorities collect waste and recycling (I think I had more bins that anybody else) and the way that some other languages, like Portuguese, sound a bit like Czech.
There were other beers too as the evening drifted smoothly towards the 10:30pm close forced on us by the venue. I left something over four hours after I arrived and I left very happy.