I went to a wonderful Christmas party the other day (thanks again for the invitation, J!) which convinced me that, despite my fears, English eccentricity is alive and well. Take this line from a speech given by one of the evening’s hosts:

“And now for the Thank you’s. There will be four Thank you’s this evening. If you would care to clap after each one, that would be most… gratifying.”

The same person then proceeded to deliver an ‘annual report’ in the form of a song, complete with ‘responsorial verses’ for the guests.

The highlight came at the very end, though. As J and I left the building, we discovered that she had to walk one way to get to the coach station and I had to walk the other to get to my car.

“D’you want me to walk you to your coach?” I asked.

And suddenly, from behind us, this voice that sounded as though it emanated from a mouth filled with marbles of such high quality that they deserve their own space in the British Museum next to the stuff stolen from the Greeks, uttered, “WOULD YOU LIKE me to walk you to your coach! WOULD YOU LIKE!”

I turned around and for a moment was convinced I’d been sucked into another dimension peopled by characters from Evelyn Waugh novels. “Oh… sorry. What was it that I said?”

She took a deep breath and rolled her eyes. “You said, ‘Do you want me to.’ You must never ask a lady if she WANTS you to do something for her. You must always ask her if she WOULD LIKE you to do something for her.”

“Oh, right… thank you…”

And after all that, J didn’t even like me to walk her to the coach!

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