My Friday night with Fred

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Having recently suffered three weeks of flu (and we’re talking the serious ‘man’ strain here), I was looking forward to a cosy Friday night at home with Mrs C when she reminded me we had tickets to a fundraising event with everyone’s favourite Pompey-supporting TV presenter Fred Dinenage, and his daughter, Conservative MP Caroline Dinenage.

Blast! I had forgotten about the event and even though I still wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, I couldn’t let Fred down.

He has a special place in my heart for the small part he played when I first started dating my wife back in the late 1980s.

We were friends at first but gradually grew closer, then one day she bought me a book and gave it to me the night she was going away for a few days.

This gift prompted me to pluck up the courage to ask her out immediately on her return.

Three adult children and two grandchildren later and we are still happily married.

The title of that book was Our Story, The Kray Twins and the author was Fred Dinenage!

Fred was touched by ‘our story’ when I first told him at a friend’s wedding, but I’m still waiting for my signed copy.

Anyway, my wife and I made our way to the event with some mutual friends of Fred, with whom we had booked the table.

Our table was right in front of the stage and next to Fred and Caroline’s table where they were hosting the night’s main performer, Jim Davidson, and his wife Michelle, who is a longstanding friend of Caroline. Small world, eh!

As I sat down at the table with my third g&t in hand, Fred made his way to the stage to welcome the guests and announce the night’s proceedings.

At the very end he informed the audience about the auction to be held at the end of the night – and I ended up being the auctioneer.

I agreed on the condition that Fred joined me on stage.

A long-standing supporter of our armed forces and chairman of several associated charities, Jim Davidson stole the show with many anecdotes about his times entertaining the troops, from the Falklands to Iraq and around Europe and the UK.

Then it was my turn. I can’t say it was one of my finer performances – a bit more notice and no g&ts and it might have been a different story.

All I can say is that I don’t think an encore performance will be requested from Fred andI any time soon!