Dinner with Michael and the cast
There were ten guests at the round table and I sat only two seats from Michael, who, we were delighted to see, brought his partner Sue; they planned to marry next year. He told us that they met rambling; I think it's a wonderful match as Michael loves walking so much, I doubt he'd be happy with someone who didn't. He told us they were going camping and walking the coming weekend, a bank holiday. They also share a love of language—the Ouse River running through Bedford, he told me, is pronounced 'oose'—history, and the arts.
poured us all wine and acted the attentive host. Poor man, I don't think he got to eat very much of the meal. Neither did I; I was far too interested in what he was saying.
He was surprised (as Gareth was later) at our relative youth, though one man at the table was older than him. I asked if he felt younger than he was, and he said no as he has arthritis in one knee, but always uses two alpenstocks when walking distances. He was still capable of dancing though, he said, and got up and did a jig, making us laugh. Paul Darrow saw this and came over. "I've been pouring wine for my lot all evening," he said, "and haven’t even had one tip!"
"You want a tip?" Michael asked. "I've got one for you: put twigs in your compost to let it breathe." This got us onto compost heaps (and various fans' problems with them) and of course drove Paul away.
Someone remarked on how tanned and fit he looked. He said he tans very easily due, he thinks, to a Spanish great-grandmother—snap! I have one too, though I remain interestingly (ha!) pale. He says he has to wear a hat these days though as he has rather more forehead than he had. Actually, I think he's aged the least of the men. His hair might be grey now, but there's not that much less of it than Vila had.
Someone asked where the name Vila Restal came from; Michael had no idea. I suggested Terry Nation may have got it—consciously or subconsciously—from 'villain' and 'arrested', and Michael liked that idea a lot and said he could well believe it.
Towards the end of the meal, people started circulating and taking pictures of the guests of honour, so I did too. And then, before I quite realised it, it was all over and they were being rushed off to their hotels.