December 14, 2017

Family fete in the Embassy gardens

Friday, April 28, 2017

British community maintains an evolving tradition

By Michael Soltys / Senior Editor

Continuity and change were both present at the British community’s family fete in HM Ambassador Mark Kent’s stately gardens last Saturday (postponed by a fortnight from its original date of April 8 due to the memorable monsoon that afternoon). The venue itself, the familiar faces of the veteran volunteers at the various stands — all belong to the tradition.

And the changes? The first was evident upon entry — incredibly tight security at the door with personal belongings minutely searched, on a par with the Israeli or United States Embassies. Doubtless no reflection against Argentina (even in the month of the 35th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1982 South Atlantic War) but instructions to British embassies worldwide in the wake of recent terrorism.

Argentines invariably use the adjective “inglés” to cover the entire United Kingdom but this year this very British event struck a predominantly Scottish note. Not only was the music and dance represented by the St. Andrew’s Society Pipe Band in conjunction with the Buenos Aires Scottish Guard (the “Hot Pickin’ Brothers” Country Music Band certainly made themselves heard but served up a music from the other side of the Atlantic) but the best cakes were Scottish. Until this year the creations of Mary Reid (a Scottish surname, by the way) served at the high tea on the residence veranda had reigned supreme but that event has now been downscaled — instead Dundee cake (Winston Churchill’s favourite), whisky cake, shortbread and other Caledonian delights were very satisfying substitutes.

Satisfying but not satisfactory. This journalist would like to lobby in the strongest possible terms for the return of the BABS tea to its rightful place at the tables and chairs of the veranda as a sit-down event lasting a leisured hour which was sheer pleasure. Surely always the main attraction of this fete as opposed to its Christmas sister offering all the special joys of the festive season — this writer has many pleasant memories with perhaps the peak moment in 2011 when in the same month as the marriage of Prince William with Kate Middleton, a replica of their royal wedding cake was served. Apparently this tea had to contend with high costs, slender profit margins and a reliance on youthful volunteers but this event was also the prime drawing-point bringing in people to make the fete as a whole a success.

There was less for sale than usual although there was a good selection of English-language books and chutneys in the corner as always. The catering was up to standard with the “Old Georgian” BBQ doing a good job with lomitos, choripanes, superpanchos, etc. and there was a well-served “Southern” Bar. Plus “Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe” and Ronald McDonald.

The pleasant autumn afternoon ended with the raffle and door prizes (see box below) with the draw made by Economic Attaché John Gallagher representing the British Embassy hosts (Kent was out of town).

A fete worse than death, as the Victorians used to say? Never!

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Edition No. 5055 - This publication is a property of NEFIR S.A. -RNPI Nº 5343955 - Issn 1852 - 9224 - Te. 4349-1500 - San Juan 141 , (C1063ACY) CABA - Director Perdiodístico: Ricardo Daloia