It was a balmy Saturday evening in the grounds of St Philip’s Church when parishioners donned their glad rags to attend the Summer Soirée on 29 June. There was a distinctly festive atmosphere, kicked off by the wonderful welcome given to each guest by Dermot Carey, resplendent in his toastmaster’s ensemble.
The grounds of St Philips had been beautifully decorated with bunting and fairy lights, with small marquees erected to accommodate the two bars, the games area and the stage. We were treated to delicious cocktails including Kir Royales, which were accompanied by a never-ending supply of tasty canapés, capably served by black-clad young waiters and waitresses.
We were firstly entertained by the well-named Dulciana, whose angelic tones ran through song choices that would have resonated with both young and older attendees. Thereafter, Mick McDonagh and his jazz buddies entertained the audience with a broad selection of musical genres.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening, bringing older and younger generations, and newer and established parishioners and visitors together, with their friends and invitees. It gave everyone an opportunity to mingle in a most convivial atmosphere and was a great success, enjoyed by all who attended!
Having fun appears to be taken very seriously at the Summer Soirée in the verdant grounds of St Philip’s Church. It is, however, impossible to take oneself seriously in the midst of such quirkiness. Any self-importance one might feel as one sashays in one’s best bib and tucker down the red carpet is dispelled by the realisation that one is possessively clutching a plastic tiddlywink token. No one seems to find it at all odd that a ‘wink’ is a currency of value and can be bartered a beverage. The array of beverages on offer was bewildering, ranging from the sophistication of a Kir Royale to the implied danger of a long drink ending with the word bomb. After the first drink you just have to work out how to get more winks.
Anyone who hungered was well catered for at the Soiree. The canapés seemed limitless and of such standard that Heston Blumenthal would probably have wanted the recipes. One could wax lyrical. How could I compare thee (cheese straw) to a Summer’s Day? And it was a lovely summer’s evening for roaming in the gloaming between the allotments at the back to show visitors the fruits of the labours of the gardeners to standing at a table in the crepuscular light while all around the dulcet voices of Dulciana soared skyward and children unselfconsciously danced.
Such events do not happen without much pre-planning and grunt work. I cannot even begin to imagine how much time and effort it took to bring all the elements of such a good evening seamlessly together. We attendees benefitted from the work of others and out of the work of others came a memorable fun-filled community event that embraced all ages in the idyll that is the grounds and church of St Philip’s.
Twenty first century life is relentlessly busy. We dash headlong from one commitment to another. In the words of the poet W.H. Davies, What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. The Summer Soirée makes one do what W.H. Davies exhorted us to do, to stop and stare and when we do, appreciate both the beauty of nature and the skills and company of our fellow human beings. If you missed the Summer Soirée this year, do not miss it if it happens again. Maybe next time, to keep us on our toes, the currency could be Monopoly money.
Maura King (The Garden Gang)