One of the best lessons I learned at university was the art of pacing oneself at serial cocktail parties. For undergraduates, the May Season came to a fuzzy end each year on the great Cocktail Party Day - a continuum of separate revelries, commencing at midnight and ending 24 hours later.
As with so much in pre-IT Britain, the whole exercise was designed to reinforce the natural order, defining one's social standing by just how early in the day your first invitation was for. Princes, first order peers and other chinless wonders at midnight, Grammar School oiks like me at lunch time. Fatally, the day was designed on the conga system - having entered at your first party, you just grabbed hold of other guests and followed them to the next place. As with so much at university, you were supposed to find this out for yourself and so, along with the other oiks I guzzled as much punch as I possibly could, as quickly as I possibly could and was thus rendered unspeakable and unspeaking long before I left the first bash.
My last memory of the day was getting into a spirited debate with a fellow guest as rosy-cheeked retainers stood soberly by, respectfully in their place.
It all came flooding back last month, as I grabbed the stack of invitations in my office and set off for the IT/investor equivalent of today. Starting at the Bank of England Museum we concluded at the Science Museum. The bank is a temple to the history of money and it was an appropriate setting for the impressive Teresa Wallis to celebrate the impact on Britain's IT sector of her creation - the Alternative Investment Market. The scene at the Science Museum was very different. Held in the Steam Hall our hosts had arranged for the giant beam engines to be working. Hundreds of guests stood around in that temple of technology, discussing money as the rosy cheeked engineers stood soberly by respectfully in their place.
Some things never change, although it was a relief not to have to crawl home!