Ladies have the last laugh as lads are left trembling at Long Lunch

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 March, 2010, 12:00am

Pity poor Josh Daniels, found in a corner by the bar, holding a beer in one hand and trying not to tremble.

Just five minutes earlier, the UK-based comedian had been up in front of an audience - as his chosen profession requires him to do - but the experience had left the normally confident man feeling more than a little shell-shocked.

'I felt like I was fighting a losing battle out there,' says Daniels, smiling rather meekly. 'I was nervous you know, it was tough. All I can say is that it will be a good story for my autobiography.'

And off he wanders to collect his thoughts - and his dignity.

Welcome to the inaugural Ladies Long Lunch - cougar town, as one lady proudly declared - a place where all men should fear to tread, bar those with youth and a six-pack of abs.

Daniels had bravely stepped into the breech on Friday when the afternoon's guest of honour Lisa Butcher, model and stylist-turned-host of television's What Not To Wear, fell ill and could not make her flight from London.

Yet the news didn't dampen the mood at the Watermark; in fact the 160-strong gathering relished making the comedian squirm.

Their effect on the group of rugby players hired as 'eye candy' - drawn from the HSBC International Penguins, Hong Kong and Kowloon squads - was a little less brutal.

After being coerced into stripping down for a 'haka'' to get the afternoon's events rolling, the lads were mostly required to strut around and help serve the drinks - and only occasionally rip off their shirts.

For the rest of the time they gathered in a corner, backs against the wall and out of harm's way, finding some safety in numbers.

'We are mostly mums and corporate types,' explains one of the event's organisers, Suzanne Sadler from the Christina Noble Foundation.

'We got a bit sick of our husbands or boyfriends coming back from these type of events telling us they had spent loads of money on some rugby player's smelly old shorts and expecting us to be impressed so we decided to have some fun for ourselves. And of course we're raising a little money for charity while we're here.'

More than a little, as things would turn out. The Christina Noble Foundation ( collected about HK$500,000 from the afternoon's auctions, which will now go towards assisting the work they do helping underprivileged children in Vietnam and Mongolia.

Among the items up for grabs were a private styling session with Butcher, six nights in a private Phuket villa and a 'Tee Time with Tiger'.

That last prize proved to be not quite as scary as it might first have appeared to some of the poor husbands left twiddling their thumbs at home and fretting on Friday, as it included tickets to the golfer's return to action at this year's US Masters at Augusta, hotel and transfers and two days of golf.

One lucky lady also walked away with a set of diamond earrings, a prize patrons qualified for by buying extra glasses of champagne, not that anyone seemed to need the added encouragement.

Yet the prize most seemed to want a piece of was labelled 'Single, Sexy & Yours' and a cool bid of HK$30,000 saw 'four 40-year-old tragics' (and that's self-described) line up a night out on the town with two members of the 'official eye candy'.

'Maybe they can teach us how to talk to our sons,' quipped one of the winners.

After a three-course meal - and about 31/2 hours of an open bar - most of the ladies were off to Hong Kong Stadium as the weekend's main event got under way. 'Gorgeous young rugby players, diamonds, champagne and 160 very generous ladies all came together to make the inaugural Ladies Long Lunch a resounding success,' said organiser Sandy Burgess.

'Best of all, we raised half a million dollars for the Christina Noble Children's Foundation. So, here's a challenge for the men's long lunches in 2011 - top that!''

It seems another Hong Kong Sevens legend has been born and so it is now over to you, lads.