THE FIRST MARINER DINNER
WHO WAS THE SIXTH MAN?
It is believed that the first Mariner dinner was held on 19th December 1947. At the time of course the name 'Mariners' had not been thought of; the intention was to hold regular dinners, and there was also a hazy idea that cricket might occasionally be played.
(Subsequent research has suggested that the date of the first dinner was more probably 22nd December 1947. Ed.)
The first dinner took place at Manetta's, in Clarges Street, London, W.1 (now no longer in existence) and it was attended by six good men. They were D. Brown, J. and A. Irvine, S. Booth, R. White, and one other, whose identity escapes the writer's memory after fifty years, With the exception of S. Booth all were Old Carthusians.
At that time it was illegal for a restaurant to charge more than five shillings (25p] for a meal, though classy establishments circumvented this ruling by adding on 'table money' which was always several times the statutory price. The writer recalls that the main course was 'poussins' - a strange choice.
The dinner must have ended fairly early because the company repaired to "Shepherds" in Shepherds Market, a tavern with which they were familiar and where they felt more at home than in a smart restaurant, There they were joined by a certain T. Rees, another O.C. of similar vintage.
It is possible that T. Rees may have in fact attended the dinner, and had left early to join a cocktail party at a Mayfair flat. If so he was the 'sixth man', though the writer is uncertain about that. Whether or not Rees was insistent that the one thing the cocktail party host and hostess needed
to make their function a real success was that those who had been at the dinner should join the guests at their palatial flat.
The diners were more than ready to take him at his word. With enthusiasm they repaired to the party with T. Rees, but they failed to note the small number of remaining guests, the majority having already left. They made themselves at home, and S. Booth entertained the gathering by singing "The Eton Boating Song" while accompanying himself on a magnificent grand piano.
The writer must admit to feeling that the host and hostess lacked the warmth that might have been expected after T. Rees' urgent representations; even Booth's talented performance failed to enthuse them. A single drink was rather grudgingly proffered, with a clear indication that no more would follow. It was not long before it became abundantly clear that the diners were 'personae non gratae'. Being the last people to impose their society on an unwilling host they decided to leave without further delay.
By then it was quite late; on reaching the ground floor of the block of flats it was discovered that the entrance door was locked, and that the doorman had abandoned his post for the night. There was however an open window close by, and the diners saw this as a satisfactory exit. One by one they clambered out, but their sortie was interrupted by a cry of pain. One of their number, R. White, had failed to cross the gap between window and pavement, and had instead fallen into the basement area, a drop of some twelve feet which resulted in a broken leg.
The diners peered into the gloom, making jocular and unsympathetic remarks, but they could see little and were unable to render any assistance. A passing policeman stopped to consider the situation but was equally unable to do anything constructive. Consequently two more policemen, an ambulance, and the fire brigade were summoned, and between them they managed to extricate White from his predicament and conveyed him to St. George's Hospital, then at Hyde Park Corner. Unnoticed at the time the paparazzi were also present, and an item appeared in an evening paper on the following day reporting an "Unfortunate Incident in Mayfair". R. White spent Christmas in St. George's, which he subsequently described as quite an enjoyable experience, largely due to the attractiveness of the nurses.
T. Rees, whose role in all this is somewhat obscure, took no further part in the history of the Club, but the other five diners all became regular players. That sad but memorable event brought the first Mariner dinner to a close.
J.L.K.I. October 1997
This sad little tale first appeared in the fourth edition of the Statistics in 1988. It is repeated here because it seems to offer a charming sidelight on some of the strange things which happen in Mariner cricket.
THE VERY EARLY DAYS MARINERS' TALES