I am a Freemason, an organisation I joined many years ago for companionship and because as one of the World’s leading charities, I can be confident that every penny raised actually goes to good causes as opposed to being spent on ridiculously large six figure salaries for senior management.
Every year I attend four dinners which are very pleasant formal affairs, conducted to a great extent according to a formula devised over many hundreds of years. It would therefore be very bad form to exit from one of these dinners before the official close and the final toast.
At the last dinner I attended I was sitting next to two gentlemen who were drinking quit heavily, and both of whom had obviously been partaking of alcoholic refreshment before the dinner itself. As the evening drew on one of them in particular was becoming boisterous and trying to involve me in silly banter and tomfoolery which I could see was annoying the more senior and official brethren around the table. In past years it would have probably been me instigating this drunken behaviour oblivious to the frustration it was causing, and I would similarly have been making a fool of myself.
On this occasion I had to sit and suffer as a sober onlooker, and be conscious of the fact I was being labelled as one of the ‘drunken idiots’ by any of those at the dinner table who weren’t otherwise aware of my sober status. In a pub with your drunken mates and when it all gets a bit over the top you can simply leave, at a formal dinner you have no such luxury.
Now I know how my wife must have felt every time we went anywhere for dinner (I was always drunk), and my staff must have felt when we were entertaining clients, and they had to watch their boss acting like a complete arsehole with nothing they dare do about it. Sometimes I look back on those days with deep sense of embarrassment – at the time I thought I was king pin!