Sunday, 22 November 2009

Further Adventures in Cambridge

Last week, I received from my friend Liz, an invitation to attend a lecture on Freetrade and in particular, the sugar industry centred in Malawi, organised by the Co Operative Society at The Moller Centre in Cambridge on Wednesday night.

Whilst at first glance, the topic was outside my current interest, the opportunity of attending as Emma was too much to pass by, that and the provision of a pre meeting buffet and some entertainment afterwards.

Arriving at Liz’s later than planned (work getting in the way!), I quickly got changed and ready in a record time of less than 45 minutes from scratch! It helped that I had already decided on my outfit and that I had stripped my make up down to the bare necessities and due to the increased number of times I have been going out, have developed a make up routine which is quick but effective and works for me.

For the evening, I wore a black button through dress with contrasting burgundy fishnet tights with a rose pattern superimposed on them. On my feet, still recovering from an injured knee when I stumbled after catching my heel in a crack whilst out in Manchester over Halloween, I resorted to a pair of bronze coloured kitten heeled pumps.

We drove over to the centre and joined the group attending in the ante room where we were treated to a sumptuous buffet. It was a first for me as I was mingling as a woman with what was generally a fairly older group of couples and scholarly individuals in a completely normal environment. After a few nervous moments having to sign in, I quickly settled down and with Liz, mingled, even chatting to a few of the people there.

On entering the auditorium, we took our places near the front and listened with interest to the various presentations, at the end of which we were treated to a drum and dance group from Ghana to finish the evening. When looking for volunteers to get up and dance, I managed to make my self small and hid behind an elderly couple in front of us. I guess that sort of exposure would have been just too much for me and probably the audience!

Afterwards we repaired to the ante room and took a coffee, joining in a chat with another woman about work, families etc. It felt very normal and I really forgot how I was dressed for a short while whilst talking. We even gave the woman a lift into town on leaving.

Parking the car we made our way to our local – The Pickerel Arms and on entry were warmly greeted by Claire, one of the bar staff who we knew from previous visits. Claire joined us during her break and we caught up with what had been happening. The bar was quite busy, packed with students – obviously a more popular night than our more normal Monday night.

On leaving the Pickerel Arms we went looking for some live music and walked further into the centre past numerous groups of revellers. We eventually found a live band playing at a Jazz bar / club close to the Market Square and purchasing drinks made our way upstairs to catch the last few songs of a two hour set. We got up and danced, joining 4 other girls and a bloke (not many were there which was a shame as they were very good).

On closing time, after chatting for a while with the sax player and the singer – yet another American, we made our way around the corner and found a bar which was still serving. In fact it was a bar that I had first come across when out with Mary earlier in the year. The bar which specialised in cocktails was heaving and it took a while for me to get served, standing at the bar in the midst of a rake of students all paying for their rounds with plastic!

Taking our drinks out, we sipped them outside of Karen Millens and then got chatting to two girls out for a ciggie break from the adjacent Fez nightclub. The girl I was speaking to had amazing eye make up and during our conversation I mentioned how fascinated I was and how had she achieved the effect. In return, she was intrigued by my tights, asking where I had purchased them from.

Whilst talking to the girls, it became obvious that one of the bouncers at Fez’s was somewhat upset by my presence, though to be frank (which clearly I wasn’t!) I didnt give a monkeys! Though it did colour my judgement when the two girls invited us back into the night club as we sadly declined the offer.

Given the time of night and the state of the majority of the people in and around the passage where we were, not surprisingly, one drunken guy cried out “That’s a bloke!” as I retorted No s…t Sherlock! That shut him up and the fact that I was probably half as heavy again as him probably helped silence him.

Again this comment didn’t dampen my enjoyment yet it’s only just over a year ago that a similar situation occurred whilst out late in Towcester, which severely impacted on my confidence, panicked me and left me hiding for over 30 minutes down a back alley before returning back to my car. It just shows how far I have come in the intervening year.

Finishing our drinks we decided to call it a day and walked back through the centre of Cambridge chatting away as two girlfriends, groups and individuals passing us by, we stopped off for the obligatory photograph this time in front of the fountain opposite the Japanese restaurant before continuing to the car and returning to Liz’s.

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