For years now, Entertainment Weekly has been throwing New York’s big fancy Oscar-night party for big fancy Oscar-night people. Comprising mostly ‘A’ list celebs and old-Hollywood types, this bastion of self-congratulation nowadays finds itself under pressure from an upstart in good old Blighty!
Here in Lancashire’s very own Tinseltown it is time for this year’s Oche Awards to take centre stage once more.
And on this night of nights, all along Preston Street, the local hoi polloi have gathered in their thousands, intent on securing a glimpse of their idols.
First out on to the red carpet is Erik Dahl, star of this year’s blockbuster ‘Twelve Years a Darter’ and delivered a 5-3 victory for the Blasted Heathens over hosts Highbury ‘B’ in a tense Team Knockout quarter final.
Sliding gracefully out of the second limo is the director of ‘Captain Phillips’, a rollicking tale of piracy upon the oche. Geoff Coulborn glides silently along the crimson Axminster without the apparent need of any muscular activity. Earlier, the Cons have eased comfortably past visitors Highbury ‘A’ to book their place in the last four, thus bringing down the curtain on a miserable seven days for the footballers.
Bouncing next on to the pavement from the back of his car is one of the port’s favourite matinee idols, Lenny Billington, from the Collapsible Comrades.
Having seen opponents the Workingmens reduce the deficit to 4-2 in their cup tie away to the Collapsibles, it is Lenny who strides manfully to the oche and secures a place in the last four with an assured performance incorporating pathos, comedy and heartbreak.
Back outside the Dockers, pandemonium sweeps through the crowd as Rob Saunders arrives.
His epic performance in the dying embers of a titanic tussle with table toppers Dockers ‘A’ has helped maintain his studio’s standing as dark horses in this season’s title race.
Still the limos arrive and still the crowd screams its delight, this time for David Grigg.
Earlier in the evening, a packed retirement home rises ever so slowly to its feet, Zimmer Frames rattling in supplication, as David turns arthritically to shake the hand of his defeated opponent at the end of a close run encounter in the Plate against the Queens Hotel.
Little wonder that the blue rinses in the cheap seats are swooning, so reminded are they of Errol Flynn in his heyday when Sir Dave plunges his winning dart into the final double to secure a 5-3 win for the aged ones.
Our next limousine seems to be resting rather heavily on its back axle as it trundles slowly to a halt.
The reason soon becomes clear as five tuxedoed troubadours from the Strawberry Gardens pile out of the back seat. Earlier in the evening, Graham Hopkinson, Mark Wilson, Michael Shaw, Andy Ingham and Curtis Sandercock chalk up consecutive wins to see the Fuzzy Ducks safely across the winning line, this after hosts the Bowling Club had seemed in charge of events when 2-0 to the good.
After playing too many tragic roles this season, the Femme Fatales have finally elected for a change of emphasis.
After weeks playing downtrodden damsels of tragic circumstance, this week the girls are happy to employ a little slapstick in reaching the semi-final stage. Carol Evans is first to snatch a cheap laugh in the opening leg, this before Berni Heron has the audience chuckling happily with her knockabout cameo in the second.
And although Mitch Blyth manages to stifle the laughter in the stalls with a win for the guys in game three, before long Tracey Cunningham makes it 3-1 in a blizzard of titillating tungstens.
A dour Chris Blyth refuses to be amused and immediately reduces the deficit at the start of the second half, only for Belinda Yusuf to take the girls to within sight of victory in the ante penultimate leg.
Still the Blithe Spirits refuse to bend the knee as Cliff makes it a hat trick of wins for the family in game seven, his staunch resistance proving to be only a temporary reprieve, however, as skipper Trish Hughes sees the ladies safely into the last four with something to spare.
At last this pantheon of thespian magnificence is brought to a fitting conclusion as the final car of the evening draws up outside Pat’s Bar. A roar of appreciation goes up from the crowd as Darren Rathbone, Dave Pilling, Phil Schofield and Tony Kemp step on to the sidewalk.
Having recorded a quartet of unanswered wins for the Cricket Club earlier in the evening, this after trailing 3-1 to Deaduns, these white clad denizens of Broadwater are seen by the critics as possibly the next big thing.
Cue end credits, walk into sunset... and that’s a wrap!