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passing the port

(26 Posts)
NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 17:33:59

So. I was at a military dinner/awards thing last night. At a hotel, not the mess. Not as formal as a full black tie mess do.

The port was passed to the left, as you would expect.

What I didn't know is that the male of the species is the only one allowed to pour, and I was not supposed to touch the decanter, what with having a vagina.

I do have to admit that once the queen had been toasted the decanter seemed to stay at our end of the table, and DH was regularly tasked with topping up duties (as I couldn't possibly do it myself)

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 17:36:05

Drinking all the port was my revenge on the patriarchy.

Perhaps not my best idea, but I enjoyed it at the time.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 18-Jan-15 18:22:46

I was reliably led to believe that if women touch the port decanter, it turns the contents into blackcurrant juice, because women suck the fun out of everything. The 'person' who told me this was later bounced for getting caught with his Mess trousers round his ankles with one of his subordinates wives. Just so you know the calibre of the man. blush

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 18:41:24

Nice. What a top chap.

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 18:42:35


Takver Sun 18-Jan-15 18:57:51

Didn't appear to be the case at my one and only opportunity to appreciate the port - and madeira - at a Cambridge college in the SCR. The only peculiarity, I think, was that the port went one way, and the madeira the other?

There certainly wasn't any prohibition against women touching it, and as a result everything else is rather vague (in my defense, I must have been about 23, it was very good, and I was determined to make the most of the opportunity).

The hangover, I do remember, I don't think I've ever felt so grim, and IIRC correctly it got worse, not better, as the day went on.

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 19:03:33

Maybe it is a military thing?

It was my first 'do' despite DH serving for years. But he an antisocial fucker where these things are concerned.

At least I have been spared the mess balls as a result.

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 19:05:54

There is also a thing where you must not leave your table unless it is an official comfort break.

No dashing to the loo.

This was explicitly stated as being lifted for part of the evening.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 18-Jan-15 19:23:06

It's def a Military thing, especially the not allowed to go to the bloody loo thing. Heavily pregnant wife of sat in agony because of some chinless wonder droning on about something, eventually we demanded that she went.

AnyFucker Sun 18-Jan-15 19:29:16

I love port

The hangovers are awful though

Marphe Sun 18-Jan-15 19:35:17

Did DH get asked if he knows the Bishop of Norwich a lot Norma? grin

elfycat Sun 18-Jan-15 19:39:51

I had a guest run from the table as dinner was being served, despite not being a comfort break. Her husband was ex-army so they knew the rules. DH was summoned to discuss this.

The server had just poured hot gravy over her, my husband explained, and she had retired to the bathroom to deal with the scald rather than create a fuss. He didn't get a port fine and the RSM came up to us later, apologised and checked that she was ok and then bought us a round of drinks.

When pregnant they stole my water glass (I had HG and was very fainty) before the port and speeches. I had the RSM's permission to have it fainted in the bar before we went into dinner and protested. Halfway through the speeches I fainted off my chair and onto the floor - causing quite an interruption. I came round to the voice of the RSM demanding that my water be returned. He had a good voice.

But the bloody port rule, the port fines, the no-wee breaks for as long as the bloody RSM could hold out for (as a nurse I got asked about incontinence devices a lot). I don't miss that.

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 19:46:28

Bishop of Norwich? We are confused.

Marphe Sun 18-Jan-15 19:51:43

If a guest requires more Port it is extremely bad manners for them to openly ask for the Port. The correct method of obtaining the Port is to ask the guest nearest to the decanter whether they know the Bishop of Norwich. This 'signal' does not require an answer but should result in the decanter being passed (left-wards) around the table to the person requiring the Port. If unfortunately the guest to whom the question is put does not understand the 'signal' and mistakenly answers "No I don't" then your response should be appropriately scornful "The Bishop is a terribly good chap, but he never passes the Port !".

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 18-Jan-15 19:56:27

Aha. Another antequated bit of nonsense. Love it.

It's all a boys club thing isn't it?

MagratsHair Sun 18-Jan-15 20:00:33

I thought it would be terribly bad mannered to pass the port as one must slide it only.

The bottom of the decanter must not leave the table.

AmantesSuntAmentes Sun 18-Jan-15 20:04:38

In all powsh functions I attended when younger, the womyn weren't even allowed in the same room as the port! It was only drunk in the 'smoking room', post meal, which was a male only space, ofc. If there was no smoking room available, the womyn had to sod off and allow the men to 'retire' in situ, alone with their port (and cigars) at the table.

kalidasa Sun 18-Jan-15 20:27:42

I had a job for a while which involved a lot of dinners like these (thought not military). I do not remember ever being forbidden from pouring my own port. I was even allowed the snuff. They were still unutterably ghastly though.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 18-Jan-15 20:39:58

Marphe, I've not heard of the Bishop one, but there was a similar one about the Reverend Robert Runcie... jolly good chap but he never pastor port so the port bit was known as the right reverend.... (not in a military setting though) ba da tish!

OmnipotentQueenOfTheUniverse Sun 18-Jan-15 22:00:51

I have never heard of any of this.

I would be thrown out of any of these gatherings very quickly indeed!

It's all to do with gangs and codes and being able to tell who is "in" and who is not, tribalism, isn't it.

Do men go in for this sort of nonsense more than women? Do they have more time to do so, more inclination?

Reminds me a bit of those lodges in america like in Peggy Sue got Married and the Simpsons (stonecutters?) where they all have to wear silly hats and twirl their fingers in a certain way and what-have-you.

AmantesSuntAmentes Sun 18-Jan-15 22:14:16

Ugh. The Freemasons? ...(am quite pissed off that my spell check not only recognised that word but capitalised it too!!) Worse still!

scallopsrgreat Sun 18-Jan-15 22:22:34

It is so cliquey and the type of stuff the patriarchy is built on. The haves and have-nots.

whatdoesittake48 Sun 18-Jan-15 22:30:59

Wow.... This is all news to me. Does this sort of stuff really happen. I mean rules about popping to the loo or drinking water? What on earth does it all mean? Sorry but it just sounds weird. ..

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 18-Jan-15 22:39:35

I've never been disallowed from touching the port, not even in formal hall at a v.traditional Cambridge college.

It sticks though, we always pass the port to the left, even at home grin

southeastastra Sun 18-Jan-15 22:41:16

its like the ripping yarns sketch when they pass the port to the wrong side, cannot possibly live with the mistake, then take themselves out of the room to shoot themselves in the head. grin

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