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Well after all that we needed some light relief and on comes Sergeant-at-Arms who is evidently a bit of a funny man and before all his dry announcements, he invites us to imagine what it would like to live our lives backwards, finishing off with an orgasm! (The photo is of course our Ken, not the Sergeant-at-arms)

After fighting for a cup of coffee and a quick look round the Conference village, with a vast array of good causes to tempt us and to persuade our club into supporting them for next year, we were back in the hall for the third session headed “Accentuate the positive” – I must say that I was getting a little fed up with all this positivity, preferring a rather more subtle message.

Well, Karen Eversleigh introduced us to the District 1090 Vocational Training Team for 2014 who were off to the Kamidi Mission Hospital in Uganda. They were travelling that weekend to teach midwifery skills, and they showed us some graphic demonstrations of their training methods. In the UK, 4.2 children in every thousand die in child birth while in Uganda it is 76! Then came the Rotary Scholars and they needed no lessons in positivity! They were an amazingly talented and enthusiastic group of young people from all over the world learning through Rotary, as they said, “to make the world a better place”.

Ben Mee came next – now Ben Mee had been all over the telly as the man “who bought a zoo” and the story which was made into a film starring Matt Damon, had us riveted. Particularly when Sovereign, the jaguar, whom he described as quite the most wily and dangerous animal he had ever come across, escaped from his cage and decided to have a go at the tigers!

After that, a bit of class – upper class, actually, in the form of

the Countess of Carnarvon who told us about her home – Highclere Castle – the real Downton Abbey (apparently the most popular TV show in the world!) She was full of amusing anecdotes in her clipped accent, describing one of the previous Carnarvon wives, a bit of a drinker, as someone “who didn’t go far to the gallon”!

After a morning like that we needed to relax before the big night and while some of us went off to a mini-golf grudge match I got dragged around the town which had definitely seen better days – still I don’t suppose one would normally come to Torquay for the shopping.

So then to the elves – six of them – all sporting the identical costume - thanks to the magnificent efforts of Sharon, who laboured long and hard to make them. We all piled into the President’s boudoir to be plied with booze to give us the courage to go and face the party.

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