I used to think toastmasters were a waste of time, a pointless import from America. Who on earth needs someone to keep on bellowing, ‘Pray silence, ladies and gentlemen… Please be upstanding for their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Ruritania’?
I changed my mind on Tuesday, when I saw Theresa May give a speech at the Savoy, for the Two Cities Lunch – a fundraiser for the Conservative Association for the Cities of London and Westminster, the constituency held by the Tory MP, Mark Field, at the 2017 election.
Field is, in fact, Theresa May’s own MP, given that she lives in Downing Street. As she said at the lunch, ‘Now I know who to call when the drains go wrong.’
But enough about politics. Much more important is the crucial role of the toastmaster! As the guests strolled over to have a friendly chat at neighbouring tables – or left early for other engagements – it made life tricky for the waiters.
Enter the toastmaster.
‘Would you please make your way back to your seats, so the waiting staff can see who wants pudding?’ said the toastmaster in an amiable, but authoritative, way. Thanks to this intervention, people returned dutifully to their places, pudding was served only to those who were there – and no pudding was wasted on an empty place setting.
All hail the toastmaster – and puddingmaster.
HARRY MOUNT, @mounth.