Food and friendship at heart of craft club

Getting together over a good meal is a lovely way to spend time catching up with friends
Getting together over a good meal is a lovely way to spend time catching up with friends

Socks are a cool Christmas gift.

Not my view, but it must surely be the attitude of the founders of a new club whose aim is to take men’s hosiery to a new level.

The Sock Club London sounds like a funky new nightclub with an ironic name but membership is by application only and costs £20 which gains you access to other sock lovers where you can talk about and laugh your socks off at other peoples’ socks, which, they say, should be worn proudly. Well, whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Or rocks your socks.

I am quite proud to belong to a rather exclusive club myself. In fact, we meet this weekend for our annual Christmas get-together.

Our club is called the CRAFT club and we are small (only 10 members at full strength) but no less beautifully formed as a group of people with one thing in common – we were all colleagues at Ulster Television in days gone by. Almost unbelievably, this is our 20th anniversary year.

I wasn’t there when the club was formed spontaneously all those years ago when two people began chatting in the corridors of Havelock House about their increasing capacity to forget things. One came out with that now immortal line “I can’t remember a flipping thing” (or words to that effect – some of the detail has been forgotten over time).

“Let’s treat ourselves to lunch today,” they said, gathering a posse of other colleagues, and the Can’t Remember A Flipping Thing Club (or CRAFT Club for short) was born.

It’s about friendship and food – colleagues turned friends, catching up over a meal, one of the most social experiences in life, and we have but one rule: we meet monthly and each meal (either a lunch or dinner) must be held somewhere new to us. In other words, we do not visit the same restaurant twice, although there are sub-clauses to that rule, like if the establishment has had a makeover or changed its name since a previous visit. It’s a good rule – it means a restaurant has only one chance to impress us before we spread the word

about it.

We choose where to eat by rota – at the start of the year, each member is assigned a month for which they are responsible for organising our meal. That member organises the venue, date and time and the rest turn up. (In July and August we follow ‘summer rules’ given that it’s a holiday time). The bill is split equally with no quibbling about who had a starter and who didn’t have the pudding.

This weekend is our annual Christmas Craft. Yes, I know it sounds like some sort of school fair, but it’s the traditional festive meal and like every gathering, we will raise a glass to “absent friends” – those no longer with us, who have passed away or moved on over the years, but nonetheless whom we remember fondly.

As is our custom, we will have a photograph taken and this will be stuck into our yearbook in time for the next meeting and which we will all sign as an official record of our attendance. Proudly, the friendships made and maintained over a CRAFT Club meal have long outlived a lot of the restaurants we’ve dined in.