Friday, January 25, 2008

Gin and tonic at Government House

Tonight the conference delegates were invited to a reception at Government House – an old colonial building on top of a hill not far from our hotel. In fact, I think it is the only hill on New Providence, and Government House is probably on the highest point of the island – a prime piece of real estate for sure. On arrival we were led to a well-stocked bar on a terrace overlooking the gardens. I ordered a gin and tonic, and the elderly barman – dressed in tropical whites that looked like they dated back 35 years to the days of British rule – filled half a glass with gin, added ice and then topped it up with a dash of tonic. I tried to drink it but it tasted like neat gin, so when nobody was looking, I poured half of it into a pot plant and then went back and asked the barman to add more tonic.

The reception was being hosted by the Governor General, Arthur D. Hanna. When he arrived, we were asked to stand, and I thought we were going to be in for a long round of speeches before we could get to the food. But the Governor General spoke for less than a minute. He said something like: “Welcome to the Bahamas. I expect you’re hungry, so let’s get on with it. Enjoy the night.” I can’t remember the exact words because it was all over so quickly – but he got a big applause for keeping his speech short.

We were then told that we would be entertained by the ‘infamous’ Royal Bahamas Police Force Band whilst we were eating. Nobody said why they were ‘infamous’, so I looked them up on the Internet when I got back to the hotel. I couldn’t see anything that they had done which made them infamous, but one report said they had performed in a Perry Como Bahamas Vacation Television Special, so maybe he meant to say ‘famous’.

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