Thursday, July 26, 2012

The King and I.

Ah… the Olympics. What a jolly exciting time.

For those Brits lucky enough to be in the thick of it, it'll be an Olympics to remember forever. For me, it's old hat. It's not my first Olympics, you see. And I'm far less involved in the London Olympics than I was in the Sydney Olympics. While some of you saved lives and built villages on your gap yarrrrs, I pulled some strings and got myself a job at the Sydney Olympics.

My dad's kind of a big deal in the sailing world and he had it organised that I'd be a trolley dolly. I move in high circles when I pull strings. My job involved helping sailors get their boats from the boat park to the water, then putting their boat trolleys back while they went and won medals. I was quite good at it, actually. Trolleys can be difficult to navigate, I'll have you know.

Being in the midst of the Olympian mayhem was unforgettable. And although I was just a humble volunteer trolley dolly, my dad was Mr Big Wig, so I got to be his plus one at all the fancy events.

I've gone with Dad to a lot of fancy events in my time - he's always been single and I've always been willing to be his well behaved daughter, showing off to his friends how articulate and well brought up I am, in return for some free flights to foreign climes. But there's one thing I always request - at these lavish dinner parties, where the average age of attendee is 60, and the average topic of conversation is yachts, knots and political boycotts, I just want to sit next to my dad.

And so it was, as we walked from our hotel to the black tie, invite only, exclusive dinner laid on by the Sydney Olympics, that I reminded Dad about my request. 'Don't forget Dad, I want to sit next to you.'

As Dad is the aforementioned big deal, we were on the top table. I'm fine with that. I'll bosh out my best anecdotes, eat with a knife and fork and won't even lick my plate. I can pretend I'm not feral when needed. But as we approached our designated seats at the top table, some bloke sitting on the opposite side of the table beckoned me over. He didn't even speak, he just pointed at me, pointed at the seat next to him, and immediately people were shuffling out of the way to make room for me next to him.

Well, of course, I had nothing to worry about, Dad and I had our agreement. I looked over at Dad expectantly, ready for him to explain to this man that I already had a seat and it was next to my old man.

Dad just sort of waved me over there dutifully, and then a waiter had my elbow and I was on my way to sitting nowhere near my dad, and instead next to a man who had ordered for me. Not happy.

I sat down in a huff at this black tie dinner, Sydney Olympics. Who was this bloke who thinks he can decide who sits next to him?

In retrospect, Dad might have thought to mention to me that we were going to be sitting with royalty.  

I proceed to make light conversation with the stranger who had demanded my presence.

'I'm Kim,' I say. 'What's your name?' He laughs so hard the table actually shook, as everyone around him sort of laughed along politely in an 'anything you laugh at must be funny, your majesty,' sort of way.

'Don't you know who I am?' he asked.

God, bit arrogant, I thought.

'No,' I say. Because I don't. Not a clue. So far all I've surmised is that he's a bit demanding.

He hands me his accreditation. This being the Olympics, we've all got our ID hanging around our necks.

HM King Constantine.

Hmmm, I think to myself, none the wiser, seeing as I'm thick as two short planks. HM - those must be his initials. I've got initials, he must have some too.

King - a nickname? King Constantine - a double barreled surname?

I hand his ID back to him, the penny a long way from dropping.

'She still doesn't know who I am!' he bellows, banging his fist down on the table in delight. Then the woman to his right leans over. 'You are sitting next to the King of Greece,' she whispers.

Well, that was embarrassing. Thanks for the heads up Dad.

I managed to turn the situation around with a heavy dose of flirting. He loved that I didn't know who he was and I was soon scribbling down his phone number while he made promises about helping me on my gap year. As I was wearing a pocketless dress, I had to hand the King's scribbled down phone number over to my dad. Now that's one scrap of paper I wish I still had.

Embarrassment subsided, King got bored of me and started talking to his right. So I turn to the handsome chap to my left.

'Whoops,' I laughed, pointing to the King with my thumb as I rolled my eyes and shook my head in a 'what's he like, silly King!' sort of way. Not sure if you're allowed to point at kings with your thumbs.

Young handsome man to my left smiles sweetly.

'I'm Kim,' I say. 'What's your name?'

And so began the entire sequence all over again with HM King Constantine's son, the Prince. Well done Kim, well done, a double whammy of social faux pas. I even asked them why, if they're the Royal Family, they don't live in Greece. (Exiled since in 1974. Political minefield. Probably best not to mention it.) I was 18 years old. I didn't read newspapers, I was ignorant and my subscription to the Week didn't commence for another ten years.

So that's my best Olympic story. I have another one about how I snogged a medallist, but I don't think Dad would like me to recount it.


Liza said...

smiling an' laughing royally here in California!

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