The day I nearly met Terry Venables

Last week I tried to gatecrash another PR firm’s bash. I was told that I would get to meet the legendary former England manager, current assistant England manager and all round stereotype crooner/used car salesman, Terry Venables. I was informed that it would be held at O’Neill’s on Carnaby Street, a short distance from a leaving do I was attending for a colleague. Me (and I know technically it should be ‘I’ but it just doesn’t sound right) and Sam figured that we had to get into the party and could not miss this opportunity to see the inventor of the hat with built in wig as favoured by England football fans and connoisseurs of fancy dress parties who have a penchant for Jewish stereotypes.

A bit worse for wear, we made our excuses from our colleagues and made our epic journey to the pub only to find nothing but the regular bunch of single office workers finishing their night drinking because they cannot face going home to an evening of crap TV (I, on the other hand have once again regained my love for Playstation). Sam, as always, was disappointed with me and my poor planning. I figured that it might be near O’Neill’s and the e-mail invite had used the Irish favourite as a reference point. Another bar/really posh hotel opposite seemed the ideal place to host the event – something to do with social networking, mobile phones and sport – so off we journeyed in search of our ‘precious’ [I’m Frodo, Sam is very much Sam Wise].

We went to the front desk and told the staff that we were journalists and here for the Terry Venables event, but we’d been interviewing off site and had not been given sufficient information by our publishers. There was no Terry Venables, we were told, but there was a Celebrity Big Brother event happening. My eyes lit up – “Is it for Channel 4?,” we asked. “Because it could be what our publishers had meant but along the way our wires crossed. I’ll be having stern words with Bob – he’s so unreliable.”

The staff were taken in and we were shown around to check whether either party was on. Unfortunately, nothing materialised and we left spouting something about our ‘publishers’. We had just spent a half hour of free drinking time on a wasted journey and had to console ourselves by journeying back to the work party, tails between our legs, and taking full advantage of the free bar.

I later got a phone call from a friend telling me the party was actually in the O’Neill’s in Wardour Street – again not far from where we were. I spent the next ten minutes convincing Sam to resurrect his belief in me once again.

It didn’t take much effort – he’s easily influenced when he’s had a bit to drink – and we followed this new hope relying on nothing more than our instincts and possibly a star to guide us. When we found the public house of love in question, the bouncers pointed us to the steps and told us to go up – no questions asked. Skimming the room there was no sign of the leather faced one although there were quite a few media types with their funny haircuts and jean/suit combo. We realised that we must have missed El Tel. Disappointed, we thought we’d take advantage of the free bar – after all the PR agency are known for being generous when it comes to entertaining journalists. We ordered a couple of spirits and a bottle of beer in order to make up for the sadness.

“That’ll be seventeen pounds please,” was the rather disappointing reply.

“Balls…” was mine.

I put my card in the Chip and Pin and typed my number in – the night could not get any worse. We wanted to get back to the only party on the night with free booze as soon as possible. The waitress took ages to come back so I removed my card and got my receipt and left. We finished our drinks quickly, not wanting to spend another penny and we again went back angry/disappointed/skint. On the way back I checked my receipt to see exactly how much I spent – ‘VOID’ it said. I had just effectively stolen those drinks! Although my card no longer works and I literally have no access to money, at least the night wasn’t a total loss!

Technically I was a criminal, Sam J Grace (the J is for ‘Jane’ after his mother’s dog she had when she was growing up that died under the weight of her love) seems to have that effect on me. It wasn’t so long ago that we were nearly mugged of a plasma TV we were carrying through Oxford Circus at midnight by our illegal taxi driver only to be saved by a prostitute – but that is a (genuine) story for another time…

Orginally featured here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2007/03/01/tim_hoang_blog_05_feature.shtml

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