This was thanks to porsupah, who found out about the popup cocktail bar, successfully applied for tickets, and invited me along thinking, correctly, that it was relevant to my interests.
Our group of four arrived at 1800 hours and was ushered in to a dimly-lit basement with diagrams and scribbles of code on the walls.
At every place was a folded uniform jacket, so everyone could look the part. To my dismay, the one that fitted me was devoid of medal ribbons and shoulder stripes, making me the junior of the party. We were asked to select code names based on favourite colour, which, of course, meant I was Agent Orange.
I am never not going to have a good time when I spend my evening being addressed as ‘Agent’.
The staff, all appropriately dressed, were simply wonderful: putting up with my awful jokes1 and admiring my hat, staying in character, taking drinks orders and offering help with the challenges when needed.
Welcome drinks arrived and we settled down to our first puzzle: taking it in turns to create a unique code based on name and date of birth using our table’s Enigma machine, then working out how to call up the bar staff by radio and place our drinks order.
The cocktails we had won ourselves were one-off creations based on the codes we had passed over, never to be repeated. Each came with a list of ingredients (mine contained lemongrass, basil, rhubarb, orange and whisky) and instructions on how to encrypt and place our next order.
That was it for the coding; for the rest of the night we could order as we pleased to the end of our drinks allowance. I asked for a Noel Coward-style Martini (fill a glass with gin and wave it in the general direction of Italy) and, my, they delivered. I think we also got an extra drink each because we were so damned entertaining, following our order of a round of B-52s which arrived on fire.
1COMPANION: I’d like a Screaming Orgasm, please.
WAAF: Oh, nobody’s ever ordered one of those before.
ME: Well, someone had to come first.