They know how to party

With precious few sightings of the sun in January, we certainly needed something to break the post-Christmas gloom. So it was with a thrill I look forward to the Travel Weekly Globe Awards every year.

This glitzy occasion manages to cast twinkling lights over the dullest winter schedule. Its only drawback is its proximity to the festive season. It’s a lot to ask to squeeze the additional five pounds of fleshy indulgence into your posh frock.

Armed with magic, tummy-taming control pants, I made my way to the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, the prestigious venue for the event, where I’d arranged to meet Gabbi from Rendezvous Travel in the ladies’ loos, which, as ever, were to serve as our dressing room.

Between the two of us, we believe we’ve stripped (almost) naked in the lavatories of most of London’s top hotels, all in the name of business. En route to travel functions, we’ve changed from office wear to evening wear in some of the most marbled, polished and shiny environments the capital has to boast.

Name the hotel and I’ll tell you the luxury brand of hand lotion on offer at their basins.

I arrived early and promptly staked my claim in front of the mirrors and wash basins. However, Gabbi was nowhere to be seen. Time was pressing.

It transpired she was running late and had no option but to get changed in the taxi en route to the hotel. God knows how she did it, but she managed to get out of her jeans and into a long, fitted gold ball gown, all in the space of a black cab.

It’s a wonder the driver didn’t have an accident with all that distraction in the back. Gabbi did mention that he seemed to swerve unnecessarily on the bends. I told her I was surprised he hadn’t tipped her when she paid him the fare. After all, it can’t be every day that a cabby gets let in on that kind of knowledge.

We finally met up and joined other guests for pre-dinner drinks hosted by British Airways, before being ushered in for dinner.

Where’s Brad and George?

I had studied the table plan and established that I was going to be seated at a Travel Weeklytable, hosted by Flora. According to the diagram, I was to be sandwiched between Brad Pitt and George Clooney – my heart raced.

What could they be doing here? Shouldn’t George be at a premiere somewhere? Shouldn’t Brad be with Angelina putting Maddox and Zahara to bed? What could I talk about? I fell asleep during Ocean’s Eleven and I can’t stand ER.

With a showbiz smile, I strode over to the table. But there was, alas, no sign of Brad or George. Or any cockney types that even looked a bit like them. No, just Neal Baldwin and Paul Norris, who announced that Brad and George had called to cancel at the last minute.

Good grief, the stunts they have to pull to get table companions these days!

The Travel Weekly team are a lively, fun-loving group of people and I found myself talking to Megan from the subbing department. Megan is a star, who doesn’t complain when my copy is late, but she’s not the only one to shine in her house. Her boyfriend Rob Heeney, is a stand-up comedian who you might well have seen appearing at London’s Comedy Store or Jongleurs comedy clubs. Rob’s act has taken him all over the world, starring in shows from the US to South Africa and Dubai.

So at the awards night, when Graham Norton took to the stage to provide the entertainment, Megan was transported back a few years, as the fabulous Mr Norton had compered Rob’s first London gig.

But it seems our industry is full of comedians. Gabbi found herself laughing so much at her dinner companion, Paul Smith from Quartz Travel in York, as well as at the so camp, so funny Graham Norton that she had to keep disappearing to the powder room to replace her make-up and ensure she wasn’t doing too authentic an impression of Alice Cooper.

The evening was a great success. The food was delicious, the wine copious, the entertainment buoyant and everybody felt warm towards the winners of the awards who were applauded loudly.

Unfortunately, my South West Trains service beckoned and it was with reluctance that I headed for the cloakroom to collect my things. There, I chanced upon a red brick with legs.

I’d drunk more than enough and thought perhaps this was my pink elephant, but no, the red brick was a costumed chap promoting Legoland Holidays operated by Holiday Extras. It didn’t stop me vowing to drink more water in future.

The morning after

Back in the office the following day, the annual ‘mystery coach tour’ was back on the agenda. It was this particular event that prompted a heavily pregnant Nikki Rich from Bakers Dolphin Coach Holidays to call in to the shop.

I told her that one of our old boys had called in to ask whether or not we’d be having a mystery tour this year and, if so, where would it go?

Upon hearing that, we had no idea, he suggested a place and presented us with a route, mileage and timings with directions for the driver.

We thanked him and promised to pass it on.

“When will you know if they’ll use it?” he asked. “Only I thought the driver could drop me off at my sister’s and pick me up on the way back. I’ll have to let her know when it’ll be so she doesn’t go to the community club that day.”

Nikki laughed so much, I thought she’d go into labour.