Numbers were down to 50 for this year’s annual dinner and prize-giving, partly attributable to Mike Barnes’ 60th birthday party in Wroxham on the same night. Nevertheless, those present enjoyed a good meal, which was followed by the Commodore’s speech. This year, Margaret spoke as follows:
”Back in the autumn, I started to feel some sympathy for the Queen. There she was, after 60 odd years, trying to think of something new and interesting to say in her Christmas address. This is only my third speech as Commodore of this club, but already I am running out of things to say. However, we have some time to fill, so I thought I’d tell you a story.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Once upon a time, in a far off land called AMERICA, there was a small kingdom, ruled over by KING FISHER. In a remote corner of this kingdom there was a wood and by it a small hut in which lived a FORESTER with his beautiful daughter, MAY. Now, sadly, his wife had died and he had remarried. His new wife had two daughters of her own, called ANNE and ANNA, who were not very nice to poor MAY. They made her put on her MARIGOLD gloves and wash every pot and every PAN. She had to do all the shopping, the cooking, the washing and the ironing.
MAY was a good natured girl, full of GRACE, and did all these tasks without complaint, although she wasn’t very keen on cleaning in the dark corners and recesses as she was rather frightened of creepy crawlies. She would squeak every time she saw a LADYBIRD, or a MOTH, a HORNET or a RED SPIDER. Her step-sisters would tease her and call her names - “You big JESSIE, MAY,” they would say. But MAY, being kind and good, would never seek RETRIBUTION for the treatment she got from ANNE and ANNA.
Now one MISTY MORN in JUNE, KING FISHER decided that it was high time his son, Prince PIPPINJACK, stopped being a WANDERER and found himself a wife, so he decided to hold a grand ball at the PALACE and invite all the eligible young maidens in his kingdom to attend. Naturally, ANNE and ANNA received invitations, but everyone thought poor MAY was a mere scullery maid and so not eligible.
Great was the excitement as ANNE and ANNA rushed out shopping to buy the latest fashions, have their hair done, their nail and eyelash extensions fixed on and to get their tans topped up ready for the big night. Poor MAY could only watch as at the appointed time the two sisters rushed off into the TWILIGHT in the FORESTER’s best woodcart, to go to the big party at the PALACE. Once left in SOLITUDE, MAY sank down onto a stool and fell into a REVERIE. “Oh dear,” she sighed, “How I do wish I could go to the ball too.”
Suddenly (zing) this strange DAMSEL appeared! “Who are you?” said MAY. “My name is TINKERBELL,” she said, “and I am your fairy Godmother. I have come to make all your wishes come true. You shall go to the ball!” Oh what JOY!! MAY was so happy, until she realised she hadn’t a thing to wear and no way of getting to the PALACE.
“No problem,” said TINKERBELL, “Go into the garden and fetch me a SWEETPEA.” MAY rushed out to the vegetable patch and picked the biggest, greenest, roundest, sweetest pea she could find there and brought it back to TINKERBELL who, with a swish of her wand (zing) turned it into a magnificent emerald green carriage. “But, it won’t go by itself,” said MAY. “That’s no problem either,” replied TINKERBELL. With that, she opened the front door and snaffled a passing PELICAN and with another wave of her wand (zing) turned it into a beautiful white horse, with snow WHITE WINGS.
Another passing SEA BIRD was turned into a handsome coachman (zing) and finally she sent MAY out to fetch two GOLDFISH from the pond and they became footmen (zing). Oh, what a MERRYMAID MAY was - now she could go to the ball. “But,” she said, “I have nothing to wear!” “That is no problem either,” said TINKERBELL and with a final wave of her wand (zing) MAY’s ragged dress became the finest SAPPHIRE ballgown, with a SILVER LINING and a little BLUE JACKET to keep her warm. Round her neck was a beautiful PEARL necklace and on her feet, of course, she now wore glistening CRYSTAL slippers.
MAY was so pleased. But there was one final warning from her Fairy Godmother - “Enjoy yourself, MAY,” she said, “but make sure you are home by the time the last stroke of midnight sounds, as at that time, the magic will disappear and all will be as before. “I will,” said MAY, and with that she was ushered into her carriage by the footmen and the coachman drove her out under the GOLDEN MOON to the PALACE.
When MAY arrived at the PALACE, of course no-one knew who this MYSTERY lady was, but Prince PIPPINJACK was immediately BEWITCHED and he would dance with no-one else all night long. As they twirled around the room to a MELODY from the NUTCRACKER suite, he thought to himself, “What a FINE LADY this is.”
MAY was having a ball of a time, but suddenly, she glanced at the CUCKOO clock on the wall and realised with horror that it was nearly midnight. “HONEY,” she said to Prince PIPPINJACK (they were getting on quite well by now) “I must just pop to the ladies” - and off she rushed, out of the ballroom, through the great hall and down the steps, of course, shedding a CRYSTAL slipper as she fled. Hopping into her carriage, the horse took FLIGHT just as fast as it could go. Fortunately, there was a FORCE FOUR BREEZE behind them - what a LUCKY BREEZE that was!
Just on the twelfth CUCKOO, she arrived home (what an ACHIEVEMENT!) and the magic dissipated, leaving her in her ragged dress, wearing one wooden clog and, at her feet, two gasping GOLDFISH, a bewildered SEABIRD and a very out of breath PELICAN. The pea rolled quietly away into a corner.
In the morning, on REFLECTION, Prince PIPPINJACK decided MAY was the girl he wished to marry, despite her abrupt EVENING FLIGHT. So he went to KING FISHER and said, “Pops, I’ve found the girl I want to marry.” “Oh, SON, GLORY be!” said the king. “Where is she, you must introduce us.” “Ah, well, slight problem there,” said PIPPINJACK. “She’s done a runner.”
So it was decreed that Prince PIPPINJACK would SALLY forth into the land, accompanied by a herald and the CRYSTAL slipper on a cushion, in order to seek the lady whose foot it would fit. Well, what a HASSLE that was! They started by looking in the castles and posh houses, belonging to men of RENOWN, before working their way down through the town houses and the bungalows, the back-to-backs and the cottages before eventually arriving at the hut in the woods where the FORESTER lived with his family.
ANNE and ANNA were very excited. They knew their hut was the last place to be searched, as they had been following events in the Daily Mail. They both pushed to the front, demanding to try the slipper on first, but, try as they would, they couldn’t get their large feet into the delicate CRYSTAL slipper.
PIPPINJACK was dismayed. “We have looked everywhere,” he said. “Are you sure there is no-one else in the house?” “Well, only MAY,” they said. “She shall try too,” said the Prince. And so, MAY came shyly forward, reached out her dainty little foot and of course, it fitted into the slipper perfectly!
The Prince was delighted and reaching into one of his POCKETS, he pulled out a WHITE ROSE and dropping to one knee he cried, “MAY! You are THE ONLY GIRL for me!! Marry me, Darling!” Of course, MAY said yes.
In due course, there was a wedding, followed by a sumptuous feast at the PALACE, served on gold platters by handsome staff - just like the meal we have had here tonight. But of course the drawback at a wedding feast is all the endless speeches and the toasts to everyone’s good health and that evening was no exception.
However, there was one toast, which is omitted from most chronicles, perhaps because no-one understood why it was there. But I think you, tonight, will understand and so I would like to repeat that toast now. Would you please stand and raise your glasses to the Yare Sailing Club.
(Of course, they all lived happily ever after).”
The prize-giving was a slightly bizarre affair, with most trophy winners unable to be present, but the upshot was that Golden Moon won the Hiawatha Prize and Anne took home both the Wherry Trophy and the Luna Barometer, winning the latter by a very tight margin from May.
In other news, Margaret Kilner won the photographic competition with her picture of Limpenhoe drainage mill at sunset. Helen Hunt won the sweepstake on the length of the Commodore’s speech (12 minutes and 47 seconds) and Leonie Dowsett went home with the prize hamper from the raffle.