My Hippychick clients were immersed in the fair at Harrogate and asked me if I could attend the awards on their behalf in London. To my clients, I’m always obliging – yes I say with my normal enthusiasm. Inside, I’m thinking. A room full of 500 people who I don’t know, on my own?
The evening comes around. My generous sister who is putting me up for the night, lends me a black Balenciaga jacket with gold buttons and a velvet trim to give me confidence and add some pizazz to my outfit. I perfect my timing to turn up one minute before the dinner, so I can avoid the drinks reception where people will be mingling in groups that I know will be impossible to break into.
We are called down for dinner as I walk through the door. Boom! It’s really mild for October and I’m sweating in the jacket. I head to the table plan- there’s a big queue behind me and I need to be quick. I check once, twice, three times. My name’s definitely not on it. This is really not auguring well. I’m directed to one of the organisers. On the surface she’s reassuring – ‘Don’t worry, there’s definitely a place for you. I prepared your name card myself’. But underneath she’s panicking, sweating a bit, like I am in my jacket. While the panic ensues, I check the screens on stage to make sure they haven’t omitted Hippychick’s name as well. But it’s there. Phew.
Everyone is now seated and I’m still standing by myself like a spare part.
‘Sorted’ says the organiser. I’ve found a space on a lovely table. ‘Is it full of men in suits?; I ask as we walk across the crowded hall full of groups all with name cards tucking into the booze. She doesn’t reply. It is.
It’s like crashing a stag do. Thankfully the men in suits are all warm and incredibly welcoming.
There is a spare place to my right. Then a rather striking tall man gambols over to the table half way through the first course, hair in a pony tail, clad in jeans and a casual shirt. He sits down, saying he feels a little under-dressed. Thank god I didn’t tuck into his hors d’oeuvre.
Within seconds, and I can’t even remember how we got there, I have established that he is Barry Manilow’s number one fan. Copacabana is one of my all time secret and guilty pleasures and I know every word by heart. We laugh till we cry over our shared passion for Bazza. I’m starting to fall in love with the evening, as well as with the man who loves Barry Manilow.
And now we’re going to play a game says the Toast Master over the mike. It’s heads or tails. I get through the first round, whilst the rest of my table sits down. I’m still standing for the second round. And the third. I’m really excited now as those still standing are invited up onto the stage. I’m through another round and then there’s three of us left. We all go heads and the Toastmaster says one of us needs to change tack. I agree to switch to tails, clutching my buttocks in anticipation. And I’ve won. A bottle of Moet which I brandish on stage in front of the crowd. It’s my lucky night. I crack it open at the table, share it with my mates and we all toast Barry Manilow and good times.
And then Anthea Turner takes to the stage in a glittering gold lame jacket to announce the awards. She looks sensational. People in various categories sashay in their finery up to her to accept their prizes to rapturous applause. I’m sweating so much now I need to remove the jacket. As I’m wrestling to remove it, I hear the announcement of our category. Did I hear Anthea saying Hippychick? My table mates affirm she did. I can’t believe it. I head to the stage like a pro for the second time that evening to collect the award which is for best B2C brand in the baby, children and family category. We share the award with ASpace and they’ve already got their hands on the star shaped award when I get on stage. I try to grapple it away but they’re clinging on for dear life. This could get ugly. Finally, I manage to get a hand on it for the photos. Fortunately, there’s a second award just for Hippychick waiting in the wings, along with yet another bottle of Moet.
I head back to the table to much applause from my table. ‘You’re our lucky mascot’ they say. And they raise a toast, this time in my honour, with more champagne.
When I leave, there’s a lot of hugging, card swapping and promises to keep in touch. My sister’s keen to hear all about evening. I tell her the jacket is definitely lucky. She says I can have it for keeps and I love her. So, I’ve squirrelled it away to the back of the wardrobe and will only bring it out for the next time Hippychick is up for an award.