A major part of the Spice social programme was dining out. We would book a local restaurant for anything between 8-30 people, rotating the choice of cuisine. We had a great time eating our way around the tasty (and some less so) gastronomies of the world, as our burgeoning waistlines will testify.
Our Spice ‘realm’ covered a large area; Oxfordshire to the north, Hampshire to the south and Berkshire in the middle. Each area had their own events enabling members to meet others local to them and this included a weekly meal.
How can I say this delicately? Not all members were created equal. Some could bore for England, so pity the poor soul stuck with the ‘autocrat’ who would blather on, oblivious to anyone wanting to get a word in edgways. Or you could be sat next to the ‘mouse’ sitting in nervous silence, desperately trying to avoid any attempt at conversation.
Luckily, there was a solution. After each course, every second or third person would get up and move to an empty seat, to sit next to someone new. Chaos would invariably ensue with those not knowing their left from their right or how many empty seats to leave between them. Wine glasses, napkins and various items of clothing would then have to be retrieved from their original start points, whilst the restaurant’s other patrons would look on in mild curiosity and/or disapproval at the disruption to their evening’s festivities. And so the Dinner Shuffle was born.
Now, not all events went ahead, some being postponed or cancelled due to low numbers (or lack of interest). Even after 12 years in the role we were unable to predict what would and wouldn’t appeal and telling members an event wasn’t going ahead was a job we both dreaded.
Being dyslexic, Dom normally passed any member correspondence over to me. I must have been out of the office on the day he received an email from a Hampshire member. The full response is irrelevant, but the poor chap must have been totally perplexed by the closing paragraph:
“Sadly on another note the Sinner Shuffle in Southampton tomorrow night has had to be cancelled as only 2 had booked.”
Always looking to engage with our members, I posted the following on Facebook, and some of the responses from our members was priceless:
“Oooh, Dom’s just created a new event genre. Anyone fancy coming to a Sinner Shuffle?”
Hazel: “Ooh that sounds like fun!!”
Elaine: “OMG yes!!!”
Hazel: “What new sins can we try on this event???”
Karen: “Where do I sign up?!!”
Melanie: “Do we have to renounce our sins between courses?”
Karen: “There wouldn’t be enough courses to renounce all my sins!!”
Chelsea: “Or perhaps we get to commit the sins between the courses…”