John Woodhouse: An OAP sing-along was hardly going to descend into violence
THIS may be a bit of a generalisation but, in my experience, women called Alma rarely require the attention of bouncers.
Ethels, Elsies, Dorises, and Joans – you never see any of them being hurled out of bars on What Happens In Kavos.
There's an Enid near us who can get a bit tetchy – but she's calmed down a lot since the rest of the street clubbed together and got her the boxset of Foyle's War.
I mention this because an Alma in Sandyford was this week informed by the council that she'll need to fork out £100 on doormen at a pensioners' sing-along at Goldenhill Community Hall to ensure trouble doesn't flare.
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She's been left somewhat bemused at the news. "I don't know what they think might happen in a room full of pensioners," she says.
And indeed a bare knuckle fist fight would seem unlikely.
I'd say the very worst that could happen is that someone's teeth might inadvertently drop into a fellow guest's milk stout.
"Some people like to have a drink at these things," admits Alma, "but there is certainly not going to be any binge-drinking." You just can't comfortably consume that volume of Harvey's Bristol Cream.
I'm not saying that pensioners aren't capable of a dust-up – you only have to see them brawling over the éclairs in Greggs – it's just that a few senior citizens singing the lesser known hits of Jim Reeves shouldn't be equated with a livelier episode of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
Yes, the modern sixty-something is the Teddy Boy of yesteryear, but unless pushed to the limit – perhaps by a nagging hip inflammation, or a heavy library fine – very few will produce a flick-knife.
As bouncers, therefore, leading the security operation at a pensioners' sing-along at Goldenhill Community Hall is unlikely, for a £100 fee, to be too taxing a job. One imagines there'll be little need for a pre-op briefing such as the Navy Seals had before storming Osama Bin Laden.
I expect the bouncers would be a little embarrassed about it all. Especially when putting Gladys up against the wall and frisking her for offensive weaponry. Not to mention checking Sid's walking stick isn't in fact a telescopic baton.
It's quite clearly nonsense. If violence does erupt – possibly an ongoing feud over a gentleman's excuse me at the Rialto Ballroom in 1942 – then I'm sure there'll be plenty of physically able individuals ready and willing to wade in. You try arguing with an octogenarian when she's shackling you to a radiator with her hairnet.
Thankfully, Stoke-on-Trent City Council has changed its mind and claimed there was a 'misunderstanding' about what was being proposed. It's understandable it should insist on security at some community hall events – experience tells me, for instance, that any birthday party for the under-fives should be expansively policed, and a water cannon put on standby – but logic tells you this isn't one of them. I've seen footage of Vera Lynn and at no point does a moshpit form at the front.
I hope the problem can be resolved because personally I'm all for retaining the tradition of the pensioners' sing-a-long. A roomful of old-timers belting out We're Gonna Hang Out The Washing On The Siegfried Line (Have You Any Dirty Washing, Mother Dear?) is one of the great highlights of British life.
It'll be strange when that generation moves on, replaced by roomfuls of safety-pin punctured septuagenarians bellowing Anarchy In The UK by the Sex Pistols.
I look forward to hearing of the success of the event and the future wellbeing of the under threat Goldenhill Community Hall. With that in mind, if anyone starts a jelly fight I'll be livid.