I don't really enjoy going out on Saturday nights.
It's not the going out or the Saturday night parts that I don't enjoy, it's just that every idiot in town is out as well and the traffic is bedlam.
It was the athletics club annual dinner, held at Morgans at 401, right in the centre of the city.
The plan was to drive as far into the city as possible and then jump on a tram for the rest of the way. Easy.
Once we reached Royal Parade it didn't seem so busy, so we drove into Elizabeth St and then, after a hook turn at Collins, found an on-street park DIRECTLY OUTSIDE Morgans. And the meter is free on Saturdays. Amazing.
Pre-dinner drinks in the gallery.
I've been to these dinners before, of course. There are always speeches. Sometimes several. Sometimes they are crashingly boring. Especially when delivered by sports bureaucrats from some government organisation with an impossible name such as the Department of Sport, Recreation and Leisure (Community Participation and Facilitation Strategy Implementation Unit - Western Region).
Why don't they just get a stand-up comedian? When you run all year, why would you want to hear a speech about sport for two hours in between entree and main course on the main social event of the year? Speaking of main course - ah, here it comes at last.
Main course: tenderloin of chicken, bone in, with mashed pumpkin and a veloute of vegetables and a reduction/jus/wine/herb-infused pool of gravy/brown liquid/whatever.
It was OK. But the mashed pumpkin? We just had pumpkin soup. What's dessert going to be? Pumpkin pie?
Then the President came up to the microphone and announced some 'rather bad news'. The night's guest speaker had failed to appear and there would be no speech.
Faces around the room brightened noticeably for just a fleeting moment before politely frowning their disappointment at being deprived of the pleasure of sitting for the next hour or so listening to some windbag talking about strategy implementation, thinking outside the envelope, shifting the square and achieving outcomes.
Soon dessert was served.
Dessert: Lemon tart with berries and a red jus covering half the plate like a king tide.
And ice-cream served silver-service style. The waitpeople came around serving ice-cream balls to go with the lemon tart.
'One ball or two, Sir?' the waitperson demanded, tongs at the ready.
I am totally serious. This actually happened. If anyone is thinking of getting into the restaurant or catering game, DO NOT EVER DO THIS. IT DOESN'T WORK. IT IS JUST WRONG. PEOPLE DO NOT WANT BALLS OF ICE-CREASM SERVED SILVER SERVICE STYLE.
Then the annual prizes were handed out. In place of a guest speaker, the oldest person in the room, a club athlete from the 1940s, was invited to present the trophies.
This beautiful old man strode painfully but purposefully to the podium, leaning heavily on his walking stick. He patiently handed out the trophies while the President read out all the various achievements, and while the athletes posed for photos.
Then, afterwards, the old champion took to the microphone and said 'Congratulations to all of you. I, myself, joined the club after the war,' adding (by way of clarification) 'the second world war.' The dear old man thought we may otherwise have believed he was in the Great War. He went on: 'I remember my days at the Melbourne University Athletics Club with great fondness and I hope you all will feel the same in the future. Well done!'
And with that he hobbled off the stage.
I have never heard such thunderous applause.