What’s the point?

What a turnout. Are you all here voluntarily?

I never knew Andrew had so many friends. It appears he has 71. (Not that I’m competitive, but 76 people came to my fiftieth a few weeks ago). Actually it’s not really 71 friends is it? A number of you are family. And then a fair few of you are only here because your partner happened to be at the same school or university at the same time as Andrew many years ago. So, if we exclude relatives who are obliged to attend and hangers-on, that leaves us with maybe 8, possibly 9 friends. But friend or foe, it’s nice to that so many of you should give up your weekend to celebrate an old man becoming even older.

Andrew was born on a Wednesday. Child of woe. He is in esteemed company. American Footballer Carl Banks, Japanese composer Hiroka Kikuta and Canadian Voice Actor Ian James Corlett were all born on the same day. That incidentally is the very same Ian James Corlett whose voice can be heard in both ‘Sonic the hedgehog, the movie’ and in ‘My Little Pony’.

At much the same time as a US spy plane first noticed the presence of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, Mrs Denison was being admitted into the maternity ward at Addenbrokes in Cambridge. It would be fair to say that the world has been a very different place from that moment on.

In preparing for this speech I noticed Andrew’s star sign is Virgo. Not being an astrologist myself, I decided to check out astrology-online.com. Male virgoans, it said, may have trouble with their sexual organs. I don’t know what this means. As I said I’m not an astrologist, but it sounds important so I’ll repeat it. Male virgoans may have trouble with their sexual organs.

Something I’ve always admired about Andrew…. not, let’s be absolutely clear about this, his sexual organ… I’m making a new point now…. I most definitely don’t admire his sexual organ. What I do admire is his elevated sense of the importance of the here and now. I first became aware of this when a fourteen year old Andrew, or ARKY as he was then known, explained with great earnestness that the mock o’levels we were about to do were the most important exams of our life. His argument was that how we did in the mocks would determine how we would perform in the real thing, which in turn would set the course for the rest of our lives. Thankfully he was wrong on this. Had my life been determined by my performance in my mock o’levels, my life would have been fucked. Nevertheless I was struck by his sense of occasion.

So it seems appropriate on this momentous occasion, exactly fifty years after the Cuban missile crisis kicked off, to ask the question that has been on our minds for some time now.

What exactly is the point of Andrew Denison?

What is his specific contribution to the evolution of mankind ?

Why was Andrew Ronald Kennedy Denison put on this planet?

What is he doing here?

I’ve given this some considerable thought in the thirty seven years I’ve known him. And I have to put my hands up and say, ‘I have absolutely no idea’.

So maybe we need to ask another question. Does Andrew serve any purpose? I think perhaps he does.

There are times when his purpose has been clear. He passed his driving test before me and so there was a period in our lives when his purpose was to drive me to the pub. Now, as my business partner, it could be said that he exists to make me money.

He has undoubtedly improved this country’s quality of stock with the successful import of an attractive, intelligent and charming Guatemalan wife. In this respect he has helped make our country a better place. I would incidentally like to thank Dagny for organising such a fantastic party. Could you please all raise your glasses to a wonderful hostess. To Dagny.

Returning to the question of what, if any, purpose Andrew serves…

He has successfully reproduced himself. And it would be hard to argue that the three Denison boys don’t represent an evolutionary upgrade on the basic DNA of their father.

In terms of a social purpose I am sure many of you would agree that Andrew has entertained you (sometimes intentionally, more often than not unintentionally) at various points in your life. One of the reasons, I suspect, that Andrew has so many good friends is that he helps us to feel better about ourselves.

My son says he’s a pretty cool Godfather, ‘one of the best’ he said. In fact he went further than that, he said that Andrew is in the top 2 of all his Godfathers.

So while we may never fathom the fundamental point of Andrew Denison, we can at least acknowledge that he serves some purpose. He can drive people to the pub, hopefully he will make me some money, he has imported some high quality Guatemalan stock, he has reproduced better versions of himself, he’s a top 2 Godfather and he makes us all feel better about ourselves.

That surely merits a toast. So I would like you all to raise your glasses to a man with 71 friends (including hangers-on), who may have trouble with his sexual organ, but who is not without purpose. To Andrew.

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