Fujian White Crane Christmas Dinner 2011

This weekend was a busy one that I’d been looking forward to for some months. On Friday, I met Laz at Clapham Junction station and we went from there to his parents’ place, where we would be staying, as it’s closer than Brighton to where we needed to be on Saturday. In the evening, before we went to the house, we met a friend of his in the pub and drank – lots – before we ate laksa, which I was interested to try, to compare it to what we’ve had before. It was good, for the record, though a little short on chicken and fish.

That evening, we went to bed early (for us), as the next day was going to be full. I’d arranged to meet a couple of the girls in one of the West End pubs before going to the restaurant (Joy King Lau in Leicester Square), and I’d been an idiot and left my shampoo at home, so we made a trip into town first to go to Lush to get one of their handy (and very sexy-smelling) Godiva shampoo bars. Then we made our way into central London, failed spectacularly to meet Sharmin and Eleanor beforehand and took the wrong street for the restaurant (I always do that). Once there, however, we found somewhere to sit and a little while later, one of the instructors was giving away kit bags with the FWC logo printed on them (really nifty – we adults had been waiting for them since the kids got green ones). Laz and I had saved a place for Sharmin, but she ended up sitting on the floor below (another epic fail). Once more, we had taken over the entire three floors of Joy King Lau. But someone from another club arrived late, so he took that place instead. At the next table were Eleanor, Sheila and a few more of our guys, so we were able to talk a bit, which was nice, and Sheila gave me a hug for not going back to being veggie. (It’s quite a thing in FWC, as diet for training is of the highest priority.) This was my first event at Joy King Lau since no longer being a vegetarian, so I was eager to try the food, even though I knew it would be great but that one of the starters was lobster. At first I felt a bit squeamish, and I’ve always thought they were dropped alive into boiling water, but apparently that isn’t the case, so I felt slightly less bad about it. And Laz and I discovered together that lobster tastes great. The dishes kept coming and the only thing I didn’t like was the flat fish – it tasted like sea water. Nothing to do with the cooking, just a matter of taste. But the rest of it was practically orgasmic.

The instructors’ speeches at the end were as entertaining as always, with Karim telling weird stories about things that have happened in class, at competitions or at similar events, making everyone laugh when he told a story about another instructor (Carlo) popping his own shoulder when he threw a hard punch and still insisting he could continue to fight. After Tim had read out an email that Dave had received and passed on, from a ‘fellow martial artist’ who suggested a ‘tough’ exercise for students at the end of class (10 press ups, then 10 sit ups, then 9 of each, then 8, etc, down to one, to which Dave’s forwarded response was ‘Hehehehehe! Wimps!’), he read his obligatory poem, illustrating perfectly why the email was so hilarious (anyone who has experienced Dave’s death aerobics will certainly agree that 55 of each in total is truly NOTHING) and then Dennis stood up again for a final speech before we all filed out. A few of us went to the Slug and Lettuce, and by then my feet were aching, as I’d worn a pair of my mum’s heeled court shoes for the occasion (having the same size feet can be a distinct advantage when you’re a size 3) and a nice gent vacated the table so a few of us could sit (‘I could see your feet were killing you,’ he said). Shortly after nine, Laz and I decided to leave (after being regaled with Dolan’s bus story, which I shan’t relate here for reasons of decorum), and we were back at his parents’ place a little after ten. After the chaos of the West End on a Saturday night, the peace of hardly any people, and then the utter peace of being just the pair of us, was pretty much bliss.

I came back home yesterday (Maureen Lipman sat opposite me on the train on her way to Chichester), and Laz stayed on to meet his parents as they came back from holiday. The weird thing about weekends like that is that afterwards, the comedown can be profound and boredom sets in very quickly (whether or not I have loads to do). But I won’t have time to be bored for long, as I have work coming tomorrow and we’re going to see Seth Lakeman on Wednesday (yip-yip!). I’ll write about that here afterwards.

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