Chatsworth House is arguably England's finest stately home. It was there last evening amidst much pomp and ceremony that the Laughing Horse blogging awards were presented to the various winners. Above you can see fireworks bursting in the Derbyshire night and the grand Regency house itself distinctively illuminated in blue. Use of Chatsworth had been made possible only because the writer of these words has become a personal friend of the Duke of Devonshire over the years - since meeting in "The Castle" pub in Bakewell back in 2001.
The house boasts over 175 rooms and a third of these are luxurious bedrooms so there was plenty of accommodation for Laughing Horse winners though Mr R. Brague had to be satisfied with an austere room in the servants' quarters. It used to be the private suite of a former butler and notable womaniser called Percy.
The main event took place in the Grand Ballroom which in its heyday looked like this - very suave and sophisticated:-
|Katherine from NZ, Carol from Cairns and Helen from Brisbane at the ballroom bash|
After The Arctic Monkeys (from Sheffield) had performed on the ballroom stage, the room was skilfully hushed by your faithful compere -
"SHUT THE F*** UP!" "Pray be quiet!" I bellowed. A bucket of iced water was thrown over Ms Kate De Chevalle, the bohemian Kiwi artist as she had continued shouting at the top of her voice - "One Edouard Manet! There's only one Edouard Manet!" like a rabid football supporter.
The awards were presented by The Duke of Devonshire who welcomed the international blogging community to his home and said he'd spotted some gorgeous "fillies" in the assembled ranks who he would happily invite to join him on an invigorating morning ride. "Dirty sod!" whispered Adrian from "Adrian's Images".
The first award was presented to itinerant blogger, Mr GB from both Napier, New Zealand and Eagleton, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Dressed in an evening suit and with his beard neatly trimmed, it was unfortunate that Mr GB hadn't realised that his flyhole was unzipped and this fact caused much suppressed mirth as he read out his lengthy acceptance speech. It was even more unfortunate that the tail of his dress shirt was peering through the hole like a miniature white sail.
Penguin-like waiters flitted about the seated guests, filling their crystal champagne glasses while the awards ceremony proceeded.
Overall Welsh winner, Earl John Gray of "Going Gently" of course delivered his acceptance speech entirely in Welsh, putting his success down to the inspirational power of scotch eggs and the love and support of both his animals and his long-suffering partner and live-in therapist Dr Chris of the University of Bangor's Bestiality Studies Department. Throughout it all, Jenny the "Demob Happy Teacher" smirked at the Earl's woeful pronunciation.
Top Catalonian blogger Brian Cutts appeared on the stage in traditional Catalan dress, raving that his "people" needed the support of the rest of the world if they were to achieve independence for Catalonia and remove the repressive yoke of Spanish imperialism:-
Top Feline Care Blogger, Jan Blawat slid onto the stage like a cat, wearing a tight-fitting cat suit made entirely from feral cat fur. "Hi y'all!" she grinned coquettishly as The Duke of Devonshire's blood pressure rose like an old steam locomotive preparing to leave King's Cross.
And then The King himself was called - The Blogger of the Year who had arrived from Johannesburg that very morning. Dressed in a khaki safari suit and wearing a brand new bush hat made by "Tilley" of Canada, he looked every part the adventurer with medals dangling from his breast and an electronic cigarette in his muscular right hand.
"Oooo! He's gorgeous!" swooned Carol from Cairns.
Cap'n T. Gowans pulled out his long speech. It had been written on Izal toilet paper and rolled back into a familiar cylindrical form. It was a speech that should have been witnessed by "The Guinness Book of Records" people such was its length. It covered happy childhood days in and around Cannock Chase, the important influence of his beloved father, the trials and triumphs of soldiering, snake bites, whisky, African maidens, the love of his two sons, vehicle maintenance, man management, cooking in a medieval helmet, the importance of accurate grammar and spelling, Cliff Richard, his brothers, map reading, airport security....zzzzzzzz!
"God, he goes on a bit doesn't he?" moaned Adrian.
And Mr R. Brague agreed as they slugged back their French champagne.
Finally, Cap'n Gowans was suitably applauded and the evening consequently descended into an unwholesome vision of debauchery and excess that was reminiscent of Gomorrah. After being plied with strong drink, Jan Blawat - the Catwoman - was ushered away to The Duke of Devonshire's private quarters while Katherine de Chevalle's tongue explored Brian Cutts's Catalonian tonsils in the exotic palm house and Earl John Gray chased one of the liveried footmen up to the hay loft in the stable block. And throughout it all, the author of this post sat in a wing-backed armchair like Methuselah with legs crossed simply observing the goings-on. What a night!