Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dinner for One

Being so near the border, we were able to get German TV stations even before satellites & digital.
Nowadays I suppose nearly everybody can.

One happy side effect has been that for years we have been able to join about half the German population in their annual New Year's Eve ritual.
If you don't know what that is, you would certainly never guess.

Every year, on several TV channels, they all watch the same, black & white, English-language commedy sketch called "Dinner for One".
Year after year!

Written in the '20s, the 18 minute version which is broadcast actually dates from 1963 & has Freddie Frinton as on old butler waiting on a 90 year old Dutchess (or similar) played by May Warden who is hosting her birthday party as ever, though all her traditional guests have now died.
The butler has to stand in for all the absent guests, particularly in drinking their toasts, so gets progressively very, very drunk.
Every time he moves between the table & sideboard for new drinks, he has to cross a tiger-skin rug with complete head sticking up, which is just obviously going to trip him up this time or next time.
The dialogue is rudimentary & repetitive & that is about it really.
But it is well enough played for millions to watch it every year without fail, as part of a very unlikely national, or now international ritual.

You can see the broadcast version anytime, and I do recommend it, at:
Skip the first 2 minutes German introduction if you like.

Article with more details on the origins & continuing spread of this phenomenon, now apparently gripping not only Germany, but Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Faroes, Austria, Switzerland, South Africa & Australia:

It would be interesting to see a good sociological/psychological analysis of this quite illogical but charming popularity.

Parting thot: "Experience is a comb which nature gives to men when they are bald." – Persian proverb

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