The highlight of the Eurovision Song Contest, that annual TV extravaganza popular with musical folk, was Abba winning the final back in 1974 with their perfectly annunciated Waterloo: “My my, at waterloo Napoleon did surrender/Oh yeah, and I have met my destiny in quite a similar way/The history book on the shelf/Is always repeating itself…” Those Swedish songbirds weren’t joking for in the same way that the Duchess of Richmond arranged her famous ball on the eve of battle, Sandton Square restaurateur par excellence and rainmaker for SA wine, Alan Pick, is arranging a birthday bash to beat all others on January 18th on the eve of financial Armageddon.
Jean Engelbrecht of Engelbrecht-Els, Rust en Vrede and Guardian Peak fame is supplying the wine and without giving too much away, Alan compares this birthday to changing telephone area codes in Israel (a very shaggy dog story I didn’t totally follow when he phoned to invite me to the bash). Mr. Pick is off to India shortly for a holiday with recent events in Mumbai small stuff for a Johannesburg restaurateur.
Invitations to his birthday bash are likely to be the most sought tickets in town as winemakers, retailers, principals and pundits pay homage to the man who has almost singlehandedly set the price levels for SA wannabe icons through his extravagant purchases at the annual Cape Winemakers Guild Auction. With a non too subtle bidding technique of raising a burly arm into the air and leaving it hanging until the gavel falls, a Pick purchase is a huge vote of affirmation for any brand as Gary Jordan, Jean Engelbrecht and André van Rensburg will no doubt confirm.
While Abba have their fans, I prefer the cynicism and wit of Bob Dylan, surprisingly voted the 7th greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine (a controversial list to say the least with Nina Simone languishing at #29). His Million Dollar Bash says it all.
Well, I looked at my watch, I looked at my wrist
I punched myself in the face with my fist
I took my potatoes down to be mashed
Then I made it over to that million dollar bash
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee, Ooh, baby, ooh-ee, it’s that million dollar bash