Byour SSAC reporter, Jill:
Wobbies (or should it be wobblies?), drinking like fish instead of spotting them and theft on a grand scale - yes, it was the SSAC Christmas Party Night!
The evening started early, in the rooftop bar at the Aurora Hotel, where we eventually took over a table - after an impromptu party type game of musical stools - and did our best to boost the profits of the bar in true SSAC style. For many people it was a chance to meet the fabled Lynn and Paul, people we only know of as they're the ones who are sailing around the world, and for others it was the chance to welcome them back into the club.
A short walk later, via the bottle shop for many of course, we found Hannibal's restaurant and moved down to the beautifully named 'Golden Tent Room' (though it looked like red and white stripes to many of us!) After a bit of jostling for places, particularly for those with dodgy knees and/or pregnant bellies, we settled back into the cushions and the food started to arrive.
Some members of the party were distracted from their food by the arrival of the belly dancer. Reactions varied from those who didn't make eye contact, in case they were dragged up to join in, and those who couldn't tear their eyes away - and it wouldn't be seemly to say here who fitted into which category! As predicted, those belly button jewels had been polished up, the hip snaking practised in the privacy of bedrooms and some of our men were all too happy to get up and shake their bellies (the aforementioned wobblies!) - with varying degrees of success!
Food, wine, beer and snaking hips, however good and plentiful they were, were no more than distractions to hold us back from the main purposes of the evening - the presentation of awards and, of course, the exchange of Kris Kringle gifts.
When the time arrived, Bec and Jules dressed appropriately- full marks to you two! - and the present opening began. Poor Ben (didn't there used to be there sweets called Poor Bens?) - was the victim of grand theft on several occasions, losing out first on the portable stove and then the flask - no food or drink for you on your next camping trip Ben! Rob lost the opportunity to prove he could read when Bec took away his copy of Neutral Buoyancy (and then rumour has it that Mike stole the wine cooler from him just to wind him up - as if! However, we did use it the following day cheers Rob!)
Amid the debris of wrapping paper that ensued it was then time for Club Awards to be presented and, reindeer and elf hats put aside, Stuart donned his MC hat.
Ben made up for his disappointment in the Kris Kringle affair by winning two awards. His picture of Angel Fish was voted by members as the Best SSAC Photograph of 2009 - though there was also recognition for the quality and size of Ross's wobby!! Ben also won the Award for Supporting the Diving Activities of SSAC by Organising the Most Overnight Expeditions in 2009 (maybe this should win a prize itself as the longest titled award in the history of diving clubs!) narrowly pipping Bec at the post for this prize, a dive donated by Baz of Southern Cross Divers.
One of the most keenly sought accolades was the Award for Supporting SSAC Without Participating in Club Dives (aka The Sussex Hotel Beer Drinking Award), for which Robert won a beautifully engraved glass tankard for the Beer DRIVER of the Year! We're told it will be corrected but personally I think it's better as it stands! Pete, told he came close to owning this cherished prize, has already ordered his first two rounds for next Wednesday at The Sussex to get an early start for next year! Close, however, is what Pete wasn't, when he confused his west and east as Dive Marshall on a training day, almost losing his trainees, and this nearly won him the Annual Golden Fin Award for the Biggest/Funniest Faux-Pas on a Club Dive. However, the recipient of this award had to be our DIVING OFFICER, Ross, for his excellent mid-shipping lane navigation at Bear Island! The concern for next year is that people are going to make deliberate errors in order to have the pleasure of displaying the beautifully crafted (thanks Owen!) Golden Fin Award on their mantelpiece!
Festive spirits were high and a good night was had by all. Everyone went home clutching goodies of one description or another (apart from Gary who donated his windchime to Lynn whose chocs were consumed!) and the planning starts here for next years event!