On the calendar every year is the mess Summer Ball. The first summer ball I ever attended was held at RAF Aldergrove, where Hagar, then Puma navigator, was stationed. We were gripped by throws of young love and clung to each other all night. Life had been tough, I was recovering from a major ankle fracture which had seen me disabled and invalid for around 9 months. I was still a bit wobbly on it but not enough to deter me from donning some velveteen, platform wedge heels, that laced up my legs. Funds were fairly tight, as my career was recovering along with my injury, so I got creative with my dress, in the spirit of make do and mend. I took a velvet bodice from another dress, and I had a few metres of green silk that my step-monster had given me from an off cut of a frock that she had had sewn for another event. I found me a very reasonably priced seamstress, and she crafted me a garment fit for an RAF summer ball. With some up to the elbow gloves, an accoutrement that had been a mandatory accessory in my wardrobe since I was a teenager, due to my deep love of nostalgic fashion and black and white films, I was set, and ready to party.
Hagar was on 230 Squadron, also called Tiger Squadron (apparently once a tiger, always tiger, grrrrr!) and so his mess dress was finished with a tiger striped cummerbund and tiger striped bow tie. He look very handsome indeed. Hagar is a fine looking chap; a cross between Darren Gough (the Yorkshire cricketer) and Sylvester Stallone. Oriental air hostesses always get very excited when they see him, and they often start jumping up and down, proclaiming ‘Slywetter Stawwone’ and clapping. Allright loves, calm down!
The best thing about the ball is that all the drinks are included in the ticket so you can drink whatever you want. Our drink of choice that night was, maybe a fine Chablis, a cheeky little Cab Sauv….er no, double vodka red bull on the rocks! To be honest this was back in 1997, so I can’t exactly remember a whole heap about it, other than there was definitely dancing and some kind of shooting gallery. I think there was a bucking bronco but I didn’t go on it. I can remember the shooting gallery because I fell over the bar, trying to lean to far forward to hit the target because I couldn’t see properly, possibly due to the Vodka Red Bull and the velveteen platform heels. The summer balls are always a great night. There are always dodgems and a whole range of activities to attain lots of UDI’s (unidentified drinking injuries).
Over the years I have been to many Summer balls and they have always been hilarious. One year at Odiham’s summer ball, I did have a bronco friendly dress, but by the time I was persuaded to go on it, I was quite drunk. I thought I was Calamity Jane, but in reality I was more like Linda in Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. As I straddled the headless mechanical, leather coated, beast, I growled to the attendant, ‘I’ll give you £10 if you make me cum’. He slowly and carefully started the bronco. It’s mechanical motor whirring a deep low rhythm. The engine driven bovine lunged gently forward, and in about 5 seconds flat, I slipped off the side, like rain down a window! ‘Make me cum, ha! Wishful thinking more like.’
Drinking, dancing, playing, roaming around and enjoying the delights that the Mess Committee’s deliver is always a highpoint of the summer. This weekend is Summer Ball time again. The theme is ‘Mile High in Manhattan’. It’s all Flapper dresses and speakeasy. There’s dodgems, croquet, tin can alley, a casino and cocktails. I am a bit short finals to potentially not sorting out my outfit to be honest but I have a semblance of a plan that I am hoping I can pull off at the 11th hour. I like a challenge. Hagar is worried. We have received short, sharp, shrift that there is to be no dresses above the knee at all, despite that being the fashion of the time. Right ho!! There is still time. Wish me luck.