The British High Commissioner's French manoeuvre

2014-02-13 15:24

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There was the usual talk about Jaguars, culture, arts and GREAT Britain, and Scottish bag pipes welcomed the guests, but British High Commissioner Judith Macgregor’s French manoeuvre was the highlight of the evening.

Macgregor opened a bottle of Pierre Jourdan sparkling wine using sabrage – a ceremonial French method invented by Napoleon of opening a champagne bottle using a ceremonial sabre – at the British High Commission’s annual reception the night before the opening of Parliament in Cape Town.

With some assistance from Achim von Arnim from wine sponsor Haute Cabriere from the Franschhoek wine valley, she managed to cleanly chop off the top of the bottle, cork and all.

The reception, held at the high commissioner’s official residence in the city’s upmarket Bishopscourt suburb, hosted judges, politicians, former politicians, diplomats, senior journalists and apparently some spooks too.

Planning Minister Trevor Manuel rubbed shoulders with former DA leader Tony Leon, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and law professor and blogger on constitutional issues, Pierre de Vos.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela also made an appearance in a very yellow but classically cut dress, and just before she left, she was seen in deep conversation with Lawson Naidoo from the constitutional lobby body Casac.

Various DA MPs also showed up, including David Maynier, Dianne Kohler Barnard and Mike Waters, who all missed yesterday’s march by their party in the Johannesburg city centre because they had meetings in Cape Town.

See the gallery: DA march ends in chaos

Macgregor was wearing a dress by British fashion designer Karen Millen, who had several creations on display at the function.

In her speech, Macgregor said Britain had various initiatives for cooperating with South Africa this year in arts, culture and education.

Apart from the Haute Cabriere wines, fine whiskies like Lagavulin and Johnny Walker Gold, traditional foods with a finger-food twist like fish and chips on a stick and bite-sized apple pies were also served at the do.

The remainder of the invited 600 guests – still networking up a storm in the giant marquees in the garden – were kicked out after 9.30pm, much later than previous years.

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