Quite how the farewell dinner of the presidents of the International League (see below) morphed into the annual election and coronation of the Onion Queen – or the Weimarer Zwiebelmarkt-Königin to give the young lady her full title – is a little uncertain. I suppose the warning signs were there earlier in the evening. The presidents were dining on their usual plain and simple fare – truffles, quail, venison – that sort of thing, with perhaps a modest suggestion of parmesan ice-cream loitering in the undergrowth of one course.
And then the rather startling cabaret returned – and this time they wanted us to sing.
Plainly some of the presidents and their spouses and partners would require additional fortification to sing in German – especially as we were to sing about wine, women and song (not necessarily in that order – and not necessarily in a precise translation). We seemed somehow to survive that, dignity more or less intact. We survived the speeches.
We survived the chef being hauled from the kitchen to take a bow. We survived the magnificent dessert. But it was becoming a long evening – and the temptation to join in the local festivities going on elsewhere in the hotel grew apace. It probably seemed like a very good idea at the time. You know how it goes. It was a you-had-to-be-there thing.
The Onion Queen was duly chosen and crowned – petite and flaxen-haired – small but perfectly formed (she had already struck more than one of the presidents as a likely winner). Although had we had a vote our own Russian observer, Alena Lavrenova,
spotted at about this juncture somewhat wistfully holding an onion, may well have been in with a shout. Wine, women and song – we’d well and truly got the message.
A final drink (or so) and time for bed. Up at dawn to catch the train to Frankfurt – a few hours there and then home. Let’s not pretend that I didn’t enjoy myself.