First out of the draw was Gretchen Meddaugh who gave what I think was one of the best prepared speeches this season. Linking Kevin Bacon, Frigyes, and Erdös to movies, math papers, and Hungary was just about as clever as it gets. Next Virginia Proud justified the time she spends in front of a television and the important, if not vital, role it plays in social bonding. Addicts: you are absolved. Tasleem Lalji got everyone's attention with her account of taking her kids on a plane and gave some of us pause for thought. I'd like to think that I won't hope the next kid-accompanied parent I see on a flight doesn't sit near me. With the three ladies setting a strong pace, our first gentleman on stage last night was Viktor Morandini who regaled us with the perks of being dumped. And finally, Matt Tricks taught us all we needed to know, including the calls and hand signals, to work on a trading floor in an investment bank. Who'd have thought it, eh?
With not much between them and everything to play for, the competitors headed into the impromptu round. First up, Matt gave the audience a choice: stalking or fingers. Some were a little worried that we might revisit the perianal glands of last month when the audience went for fingers - but instead we got what one judge described as a great step forward for Anglo-Irish relations - British chocolate fingers being dipped in Barry's Irish tea. Next up, Virginia let the audience pick between obsession and getting adjusted to new underwear. Honestly, the mind boggles. No prizes for guessing which one Virginia was landed with. Having recently stocked up on the unmentionables in London, though, she was up for the challenge. Gretchen also went to the audience with a sexy time in Minsk and hair loss. ('Cmon people - can't we do better than this for topics?) It says something about her mental dexterity when she can make shaving your legs sound like a viable option for a weekend in the capital of Europe's last dictatorship. Tasleem had to pick between how much can a kaola bear (yes, it's a pun) and ladies tights. Given the koala, she went to the top of a tree and became a mama bear, causing one judge to forsake their life-long love of pandas and make the switch. Finally the audience picked all good deeds have an equal punishment rather than bed bugs for Viktor, who again, held our attention with accounts trading up after being traded in.
Stellar performances - great talent - a new standard set. Congratulations to you all. But there was only one trophy, one title. And this year it went to Viktor Morandini. Well done, you. Viktor took home a tropy sponsored by the IHBC and a 12-year-old bottle of Jameson, a book on Irish whiskey, and some Butlers Irish chocolates given by the Embassy of Ireland [don't forget to like their new Facebook page, Viktor - I've even added the link to make it easy for you!]
The night itself wouldn't have been possible without the negotiating powers of Zsuzsa Bozo. Thanks to Steve Collison for taking photos (again), Ilona Miklos for collecting the topics (as always), Bea Bincze and Csilla Réka Wheeler for taking care of the roving mics. To Patrick McMenamin, Beth Spilsjack and Monica Heneghan for selling raffle tickets and to Jeremy, our scorekeeper, for doing his usual job with great aplomb. Thanks, too, to the judges - Kevin, Gerard, Viki, Attila, and Hans - who were in great form and did a stellar job. To the Jookers for the music and to the staff at New Orleans for providing the venue.
Prizes for the tombolo came from the IHBC, Indigo Indian Restaurant, Jack Doyle's Irish Pub and Restaurant, Jameson, Liquid Gold (Guinness), Little Britain Language School, and Milestone Management and Forwarding Ltd. Thanks to you all for your generosity.
The night raised a whopping 503 000 huf. Not bad for a Wednesday night in Budapest. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go léir. And if you're thinking about competing in the 2015 season, you have a few months to get that bio ready.